Another primary purpose of our organization is to ensure adequate permanent infrastructure and trail surface maintenance and stewardship. This is a large undertaking with the number of trails in the Bethel area. We may coordinate with other trail managers or send out a work crew. In the future we hope to engage the local students in service projects or part-time employment, where appropriate. Here are some of the things we've been doing to maintain quality trails in the area.
The Mt. Will trail is owned by the Town of Bethel and has been a great resource since 1991. The Mt Will Trail is located close to a significant population and provides scenic views of the Androscoggin River Valley. Our Projects Committee has recently toured the trail network. Jake Lubera, Assistant Ranger-Recreation, White Mountain National Forest, Androscoggin RD, prepared a report that was provided to the town on trail maintenance and improvements. The Town of Bethel approved funding for the recommended trail improvements. Our plan is to rehabilitate and reroute sections of the north side of Mt. Will Trail (located on Bethel Town Forest property and abutting landowners) to accommodate a wider range of users, eliminate a potentially dangerous ledge climb, lower future maintenance needs, and limit erosion damage to the trail and adjacent streams.
The work will be done by The Bethel Conservation Corps. Mahoosuc Pathways and the University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond have teamed up to form The Bethel Conservation Corps, a leadership and job skills program for local high school students. The program consists of:
- Two weeks of residential leadership development training at the UMaine Bryant Pond 4-H Center. The leadership-training phase focuses on outdoor skills such as back-country, Leave-No-Trace camping, outdoor leadership, and safety.
Volunteers (age 16 and up) will work under the direct supervision of UMaine 4-H Camp professional Crew Leaders, who have extensive experience doing trail construction and working with young adults. Daily transportation from the 4-H Camp to the work site will be provided. We estimate that this work will take approximately 13 working days. The work consists of building water bars, grade dips, and check steps on the existing tread way, as well as a major relocation of the section of trail that currently ascends the steep ledges near the top of the climb. The drainage structures will be prioritized, and as many as possible will be built in the allotted time. The work will be accomplished between July 15 and August 15, 2013.
- Volunteer work building and maintaining recreational trails. While participating on the trail crew, Corps members receive a stipend, job skills training, hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education (including GIS mapping), team-building and leadership experience. The program promotes environmental stewardship and community service.
Grafton Notch Loop Trail / Puzzle Mountain / Woodsum Spur
The Woodsum Spur trail is accessed from the top of Puzzle Mountain, one of the peaks traversed on the 38-mile Grafton Notch Loop Trail. After comments from a trail user that the trail was difficult to follow, we inspected this trail and improved markings, as well as removed blow-downs and other trail maintenance. To improve this trail further, a work day was scheduled for the Great Maine Outdoors Weekend to re-route the trail and perform additional maintenance. The grand reopening of the Woodsum Spur was held on June 2, 2013.