The U.S Forest Service recently announced that Maine would receive $8.7 million in federal grants to protect 17,000 acres of working forest from development and promote recreation in Franklin County’s High Peaks Region. Included are 5,800 acres surrounding the Orbeton Stream in Madrid Township and 11,800 acres on and around Crocker Mountain in Carrabassett Valley
“This is exciting news for all the recreational trail groups in the High Peaks Region,” says Lloyd Griscom of the High Peaks Alliance. “We are grateful to the many individuals, organizations, businesses, schools and trail clubs who supported the 2012 Forest Legacy application. It has taken more than four years of hard work. And while there is still a need to raise additional money from the private sector for the two parcels (stay tuned) there is light at the end of the tunnel. ”
The 5,800 acre Orbeton Stream parcel is best known for the fledgling Fly Rod Crosby Trail that passes through the heart of it on its way from Strong to Oquossoc. The land, which is owned by Linkletter Timberlands, a family run business located in Athens, would remain privately owned but would have an easement stipulating that it would always be managed for wood products and be open to public recreation. It is currently home to ATV, snowmobile and hiking trails, is a very popular hunting and fishing destination and a source of income for local Maine Guides.
The 11,800 acre Crocker Mountain parcel is best known for the 10 miles of the Appalachian Trail which makes it way through it. The parcel, which is owned by Plum Creek, would be purchased by the State of Maine ; timber harvesting will continue on the property with guarantees for public access to other types of recreation including hunting, mountain biking and cross country skiing.
The Fly Rod Crosby Trail takes its name from local heroine Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby, Maine’s first Registered Guide and the first person to market this area as a destination for early recreation.. The 45- mile -long trail will eventually connect the communities of Strong, Phillips, Madrid, Sandy River Plantation, Rangeley and Oquossoc through back-country hiking and other forms of recreation. A section of the Fly Rod Crosby Trail was built, on the Orbeton Stream parcel by volunteers in 2010-11 with generous permission from Linkletter Timberlands.
Volunteers working on the Fly Rod Crosby Trail
The Orbeton Stream parcel is also home to the Moose Loop ATV and Black Fly Loop Snowmobile Systems. The Black Fly Loop, which is run cooperatively by seven local snowmobile clubs, has been in place in the High Peaks Region for more than the 10 years and provides access to over 300 miles of trails in the region. In 2010, the High Peaks Alliance assisted local organizers to start the Moose Loop Trail, which stretches almost 140 miles and is run cooperatively by seven local ATV clubs.
The Fly Rod Crosby Trail, Moose and Black Fly Loops, as well as local trails that augment these larger systems, are made possible through the generosity of local land owners. Creation of permanent trail corridors on the Orbeton Stream Parcel would ensure that these recreational opportunities are always available to future generations living in the High Peaks Region.