CALAIS _ A unique partnership between the Washington County Community College, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Cobscook Hikes and Paddles of Perry has led to some wonderful summertime activities for area residents.
Dubbed “Paddles for the Public,” the ecological summertime program has been a hit among nature enthusiasts.
According to its web site, MCHT promotes the conservation of natural places statewide. “Founded in 1970, the trust was a pioneer in the use of conservation easements as a way to protect land. Since this time we have worked to protect more than 139,000 acres in Maine, including more than 300 entire coastal islands,” the web site said.
WCCC and MCHT officials working with Steve and Tess Ftorek, Registered Maine Sea Kayak Guides and owners of Cobscook Hikes and Paddles has allowed kayakers to explore some really exciting coastlines here in Washington County. This summer kayakers have had an opportunity to see Sipp Bay in a remote corner of Cobscook Bay located near the towns of Perry and Pembroke and Treat Island located between Lubec and Eastport. The two sites are protected by MCHT.
“I think one of the beautiful parts of this is the collaboration with the college working with Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Ftoreks in offering these kinds of programs to the community,” said Chris Woodside director of WCCC’s Outdoor Adventure Center.
And the partnership has been a winner with the public. “It has been a highly successful partnership this summer,” he added. “Maine Coast Heritage Trust has some preserved land that people have been able to enjoy.” He said that at times more than 20 people have climbed into kayaks to enjoy the outdoor adventure.
Tess Ftorek agreed. She said that the trips have allowed people to get to the islands for the first time. “Maine Coat Heritage Trust puts out a newsletter to their members that ‘this is a way to get to our property’ when you can’t get there any other way. You can’t walk there, you can only go by kayak or boat,” she said.
Ftorek said that MCHT’s land steward also offers a tour of the island after they land. “She does a history piece on Treat Island,” she said.
Woodside said each trip is built around the tides and being an experienced kayaker is not a requirement.
“We get people who have never been in a kayak before. It is all levels. I do a safety lesson and then take people out in very stable tandem kayaks,” Ftorek added. “And of course, we don’t go out in bad weather. Safety first, fun second.”
“It has been a lot of fun,” Woodside agreed. “The guides are pointing out some of the wildlife we have in these protected areas. Paddlers have seen seals, eagles, ducks and other animals that live in the area.”
The OAC director said the day-time adventure lasts between three and four hours. Future paddles include Treat Island on Aug. 23.
Woodside said although he would like to see more people participate, space is limited. He urged people to sign up immediately with Ftorek at 726-4776. The cost is $50 per person which covers the cost of equipment, instruction and a tour of the area.
“We provide everything they need to get out on the water. In addition, we have spray tops and skirts available so they won’t have to worry about potentially getting wet at all,” he said. “So you can come in your street clothes and enjoy nature.”
Although there is only one trip left this summer, more are planned for next summer.