Category: News

Caribou Mountain Trip Report

A group of five kicked off the month of June with a community hike up Caribou Mountain via Bog Road. This White Mountain National Forest hike includes 1,961 ft of steady elevation gain through deciduous woods and a brief taste of higher elevation forest before the summit opens up to 360 degree views of the Presidential and Mahoosucs mountain ranges. Our group set out at 9:30 am from a small, full parking lot and reached the 2,480 ft summit at noon on Sunday, June 1. Those with bug nets considered themselves lucky as most of the trail followed a stream busy with mosquitos, mayflies and blackflies. Still, the numerous toads and high elevation trillium made for a delightful day amidst the wildlife as bright sun poked through the tree branches. All were rewarded with a comfortable breeze and plenty of snacks during our lunch break as we took in the scenery and mingled with the other hikers and their dogs on the mostly open rocky summit. We descended relatively quickly and left the scene by 2 pm with mud, sweat and smiles to remember the day.

 

Keystones Project Completed

Hikers on Saddleback Jr. on the Appalachian Trail overlooking the Keystones.
Orbeton Cascades in the Keystones.
Project map showing conserved lands and the Appalachian Trail.

Over 2,700 Acres of Critical Wildlife Habitat Protected in Maine’s High Peaks Region

Conservation partners and the State of Maine collaborate to conserve important “Keystones” connections between Mount Abraham and Saddleback

The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust (MATLT), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Maine, and the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) announced today that 2,706 acres have been added to the Mount Abraham Public Reserve Land managed by the State of Maine. Created through the acquisition of multiple properties, the “Keystones project” holds the larger landscape together, playing a critical role in preventing development and fragmentation while ensuring public access.

In the valley between Saddleback and Mount Abraham, the Keystones parcels form the lynchpin in a landscape that has been gradually conserved over two decades. Protection of these properties builds on recent conservation successes and contributes to a contiguous landscape of over 100,000 acres that are permanently conserved and that play important roles in supporting outdoor recreation, connected wildlife habitats that allow species to move across the landscape, timber harvest, mature forest, and carbon sequestration and storage.

The project partners coordinated with seven different landowners to protect 21 separate parcels over the last three years. The addition of these lands to Maine’s Public Reserve system connects a 5,000-acre conservation easement held by BPL, the Mount Abraham Public Reserved Lands managed by BPL, the Appalachian Trail Corridor, and the Perham Stream Birding Trail property owned by the High Peaks Alliance. The project came together thanks to strong partnerships between the conservation partners and support from the Land for Maine’s Future program.

These lands are part of the traditional territory and are of ongoing cultural significance to the Wabanaki People. They include four and a half miles of frontage on Orbeton and Perham Streams, which are listed as Wild Brook Trout Priority Areas by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The streams join each other before meeting with the upper Sandy River, a tributary to the Kennebec River that is widely considered to be the top priority in Maine for endangered Atlantic salmon recovery.

The Keystones project creates better road access to the Mount Abraham Public Reserve Lands, opportunities for new access points along Perham and Orbeton Streams for fishing, swimming, and hand-carry boat use, a trail connection to Orbeton Cascades – a series of gorgeous waterfalls – and permanent access for hunting and other recreational activities. It also protects local ATV trails, almost five miles of Snowmobile Trail ITS-84, and the viewshed along the Appalachian Trail, located less than a half mile to the north.

“The Keystones project is a testament to what we can achieve through collaboration and dedication to conservation,” said Amanda Beal, DACF Commissioner. “It reflects our shared commitment to preserving critical wildlife habitats and ensuring public access for recreation while maintaining the ecological integrity and beauty of the High Peaks region for generations to come. Furthermore, it moves us closer to the important conservation goals articulated in Maine’s climate action plan.”

“Completing the Keystones project marks an important milestone in our enduring efforts to safeguard Maine’s natural heritage and longstanding tradition of public access,” said Bill Patterson, Deputy Director of the BPL. “These protected lands preserve critical wildlife habitats and ensure public access to outdoor recreation, further enriching the lives of Mainers and our visitors. We sincerely thank all the partners, donors, and landowners whose dedication and collaboration have made this achievement possible.”

“The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust is very pleased to see this project completed after years of effort,” said Simon Rucker, Executive Director of the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust. “The lands along the A.T. in Maine play a critical ecological role, are important for outdoor recreation, and provide a wealth of community benefits. Thank you to partners, donors, and the landowners for making the Keystones project a reality.”

“This conservation effort was a model of conservation collaboration and we’re so grateful to our partners for an amazing outcome,” said Kate Dempsey, State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “This conservation of the Keystones is a critical step in maintaining biodiversity and a climate-resilient landscape in our region as we adapt to the changes we’re already experiencing in Maine, as well as those yet to come.”

This project was supported by funds from the Land for Maine’s Future program, grants from The Nature Conservancy in Maine, Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, Maine Mountain Collaborative, Davis Conservation Foundation, component funds at Maine Community Foundation, the John Sage Foundation, the Fields Pond Foundation, L.L. Bean, and The Betterment Fund, and private donations.

Sneak Peak! New Edition of MATGIC Mapping Tool Coming Soon

First created in 2020, MATLT’s innovative mapping tool will be getting a refresh and will feature image outputs in 3D! The MATGIC tool (Maine Appalachian Trail Geospatial Information for Conservation) focuses on ecological values in the landscape and is now trying to assess data from a human perspective. This view is looking north from the summit of White Cap Mountain towards Katahdin, over the Hundred Mile Wilderness. What makes this a special landscape? Why does it look like this? What are the ingredients of a healthy ecosystem and a recreation destination?

Later this summer, MATLT will be publishing a report with this information on about a dozen of these views. For now, you can catch up on the Maine A.T. 2020 report for background on where this data comes from and how we made it look so awesome.

#WEOUTSIDE Winter – A Visit to Indian Island

Tami leads the way.
Gluskabe

The #WEOUTSIDE crew recently paid a visit to Indian Island, home of the Penobscot Nation, to learn about how the natural world all around us informs Wabanaki perspective and lifeways. We were SO fortunate to have our guide, Tami, leading us on some of the trails around the island. Tami is in the Nation’s Department of Agriculture. We learned about how some plants all around us – cedar, black ash, spruce, and more – can be used as medicine and in ceremonies. The kids – who are very curious about native cultures and religions – were quick to ask questions about Gluskabe at his statue, or about what the Natural Resources officers do, or how ancestors were honored. Tami was gracious enough to take us to the new farm property the Nation acquired recently, and to show us all the work that has been done to prepare for growing season.

It was a wonderful way to wrap up the #WEOUTSIDE Winter season!

Maine Outdoor Film Festival Earth Day Event

Great group of volunteers!
MOFF’s Nick Callanan introduces the lineup, including the #WEOUTSIDE Borealis segement.
Ooooh

MATLT was lucky enough to be the featured nonprofit for the Maine Outdoor Film Festival’s Earth Day screenings! This event, held with Northern Forest Canoe Trail, featured several thoughtful films which focused on paddling, farming, and the plight of indigenous First Nations in Canada. There was an undertone of sorrow in these films which, while celebrating the humanity and community around some of these rivers, also dealt with the changes we have inflicted on our planet. Great films, lots to think about.

We were fortunately enough to also have the #WEOUTSIDE Borealis segment screened also, since we always want to reach new audiences about this great program. And finally, the sales of beer brought in donations for the High Peaks Initiative program, which is focused in conservation and recreation in Maine’s High Peaks (around the A.T. near Sugarloaf and Saddleback).

Thank you to everybody who attended and to our super volunteers!

#WEOUTSIDE Winter Edition – Dog Sledding, Guiding and Living the Outdoor Life

Meeting the dogs!
Kevin talks about dog sledding adventures in Nunavik
All about how Wabanaki people make canoes.
Marshmallows

Despite the end of the snowy season, the #WEOUTSIDE program marched on so that these New Mainers could get the full experience of “spring” in Maine. Recently, the group was able to pay a visit to Mahoosuc Guide Service to visit with Polly, Kevin, Helen and all the amazing sled dogs that they use for guided trips during the winter. They also run Wabanaki Cultural Canoe Trips during the summer, partnering with native guides who teach participants about Wabanaki lifeways, medicinal plants, and cultural practices. They won an award at the recent Maine Outdoor Economy Summit!

We had a great day learning about all their adventures in 40 years of guiding. Alaska, Nunavik, Maine, and more. Kevin is a master craftsman and makes wooden canoes in the way of the Wabanaki. And of course there were the dogs! So many dogs, all with unique personalities and traits. One has so much energy that she runs around in circles when the kids come near. One is very nervous and stayed away! Another was even more nervous and barked when we came near (“Jiminy Cricket”). The kids fell in love with the dogs and most of their questions were based on how they might breed them for puppies they could take home.

Next adventure…Indian Island!

Report from the Zone of Totality

Signs!
Snow cover is getting thin due to sun’s angle at this time of year.
Great crowd, everybody having a good time.
Eclipsing!!!
Almost there…
Totality.
Great day on the summit.

The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust was fortunate enough to get a great first-hand report from the recent eclipse zone of totality, which passed directly over the A.T. region of Maine on April 8th. Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Maine Regional Manager, Leah Beck, was stationed on Saddleback Mountain to assist the Saddleback resort in managing visitors for the day. Leah writes:

We ended up seeing between 300-400 people post up in alpine between the Saddleback side trail and the summit.  A small handful ventured over to the Horn as well.  Folks were extremely receptive to our messaging and I’m happy to report that I feel our presence made a big difference in protecting the alpine zone. Saddleback was super helpful throughout the day, they provided us with radios, ski rentals, lift passes, and a few support staff. 
To summarize our crowd control strategy: laminated temporary signs (attached) were placed sporadically from the entrance to the side trail up to just before the summit.  One volunteer posted up in the first vulnerable location where visitors would be prone to wander and directed them to stay on the tread surface, rock, or deep snow.  Two other volunteers were at the next pinch point (the side trail intersection with the A.T.) showing folks that they could rock hop to spread out if need be.  It seemed to work out! People were even yelling at their kids to “stay off the plants!”. Right after totality people were eager to get back down and ski, but no one rushed and a long but fast moving line formed on the tread surface.  
We would like to extend our great thanks to Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Saddleback, all the volunteers from the Maine Appalachian Trail Club and to Leah Beck for making sure the resource was protected and people got to have this great experience!

#WEOUTSIDE Winter Edition – Downhill Skiing at Mt. Abram

#WEOUTSIDE!
On the slopes!
Gearing up…?
Nice undercast to start the day.

The #WEOUTSIDE crew was at it again for more winter adventures, this time teaming up with Mt. Abram, one of Maine’s beloved smaller ski areas. Despite the rough winter in terms of actual winter, the ski area had more than enough snow on their closing weekend for the #WEOUTSIDE crew to get out on the slopes. Special thanks to Kevin, Allie, Lori and all the instructors who worked with us.

Some of the kids have been attending high school and had been skiing at Mt. Abram just a week before, so they jumped out of the van and went right up the chairlift. One of the goals of the #WEOUTSIDE program is not just to introduce these New Mainers to everything the Maine outdoors has to offer (in all seasons), but to ensure that they have a path to advance in their interests for their benefit and the benefit of all Mainers. The last thing we want are kids sitting at home, thinking of the great experience they had skiing that time, but being unable to pursue other opportunities to ski, or unable to fill lift operator or ski patrol positions because of the gap in knowledge for all parties.

The new skiers took to things pretty readily and by the early afternoon everybody was going up and down on the West Side chairlift…and up and down…and up and down. Staff were having so much fun that lunch wasn’t served until 2pm. After that…up and down…up and down. Mais um! One more! They all said, until the chairlift was shut down and nobody was around. Even then, some kids took to taking off their skis and walking up the magic carpet slope for a bit more fun before leaving.

Every week we say, “that trip was the most fun yet”, but the truth is they are all the best.

In Memory of Former MATLT Executive Director Carole Haas (1950-2024)

Former Executive Director Carole Hass, who was the organization’s first staff hire and then led MATLT until her retirement in 2013, passed away in January. “Carole was very loyal and dedicated to MATLT and important to its early success,” said former MATLT board president Bill Plouffe, and “she was instrumental in getting MATLT started,” said director Lloyd Griscom.

Prior to leading this organization, Haas served for three years as chair of the Maine Chapter of the Sierra Club and was involved in the national branch’s Wildlands Committee. She also served on the board of the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust and on the town’s Conservation Commission. Haas’ tenure with MATLT began in 2007 and in short order the organization was working on large, complex, conservation projects along the A.T. in Maine, most notably in the High Peaks region. According to her obituary, Carole’s most treasured achievement was overseeing the Crocker Mountain project that preserved spectacular views for Appalachian Trail hikers. This was quickly followed by the Orbeton Stream Conservation Easement project, and the groundwork was set for several others.

Without Carole’s leadership, MATLT would not be the organization it is today. Her dedication to protecting the A.T. landscape in Maine is infused in the organization’s culture and success, and her legacy remains an example for all of us to strive for.