MILLINOCKET, Maine — Area business owners and state snowmobile officials are hailing a decision made by conservation philanthropist Roxanne Quimby to allow an alternate snowmobile trail on her property in the Millinocket region this winter.
Quimby also has contributed supplies for the construction of a bridge needed for the new trail.
“It’s a genuine concern for the local snowmobile economy,” Quimby’s land manager Mark Leathers of James Sewall Co. said Monday of Quimby’s decision.
Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association, said Monday that it has been a long time coming.
“I think it’s a great gesture on her part. It’s been really disappointing kind of watching this whole easement deal unfold; it’s just taken forever,” he said.
The alternate trail was part of the discussions that began in 2007 among Quimby, Gov. John Baldacci, Millinocket officials and the Trust for Public Lands regarding the exchange of land and easements in the region south and east of Katahdin Lake, according to Meyers.
That exchange of land and easements has not yet been inked, so for Quimby to step up to allow use of her land this winter was great news to snowmobile enthusiasts.
Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said Monday night that Quimby has said in the past that she wanted to help local officials have a trail from Millinocket to Matagamon on land she owned.
“This piece in what we call the Three Rivers parcel is a very important piece of that trail system,” he said. For Quimby to give permission to reuse the trail that was there a few years ago, even before any exchange has been completed, is a big help, he said.
Terry Hill of Shin Pond Village and the Bowlin Matagamon Shin Pond Snowmobile Club said that businesses, town officials and snowmobile enthusiasts have been trying to get an alternate trail for the main corridor of ITS 85 for three years.
The use of Quimby’s land on the east side of the East Branch of the Penobscot River will allow a better trail because it is mostly over roads in the region, she said. The alternate route will travel on River Road between Whetstone Bridge and Sherman Lumber Road, which passes by Lunksoos Camps. It will make it much safer for traffic, she noted.
“It’s the best scenario we could hope for at this point,” Hill said. She said the old trail will continue to be used, but the new trail will split the heavy traffic and provide an alternate route. ‘This is a great thing for all of our communities.”
The fact that Quimby contributed the concrete abutments and the steel I-beams for the bridge over Dry Brook also pleased officials. That bridge work already is under way.
“This trail section seems to be the No. 1 concern of the local snowmobile community,” Leathers said. He said Quimby recognized that and was willing to help out the Millinocket area.