This past Saturday was the perfect day for a cookout. The sun was out, a slight breeze was in the air, and people came from all over Franklin County to join us in the backwoods of Madrid.
This past June, the High Peaks Alliance saw the completion of the Perham Stream Bridge Project. The Bridge is the final product of a three-year collaborative project between the High Peaks Alliance, North Franklin Snowmobile Club, Narrow Gauge Riders ATV club, landowner Mark Beauregard, and others. On Saturday, August the 27th, the High Peaks Alliance and clubs all came together to celebrate the bridge’s completion with a cookout and ribbon cutting ceremony.
Vehicles lined up on the Reed’s Mills’ roadside. Bicyclists, ATV riders, snowmobile riders, community members, and several local officials converged on the bridge for the cookout. The event was attended by 50 to 6o people, much more than was expected. Food and beverages were donated by area businesses including the White Elephant of Strong, Maine, Edmund’s Market of Phillips, Maine, and the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Farmington, Maine.
Members of the press from Franklin County Newspapers came to cover the event and some of their articles have already been published. This lovely piece was written by Lauren Abbate for the Morning Sentinal and the Kennebec Journal. Valarie Tucker, a Special Correspondent for the Franklin Sun Journal wrote this article.
Among the attendees were Senator Tom Saviello of Wilton, Maine, Franklin County Commissioner Gary T. McGrane, Ralph Luce of the North Franklin Snowmobile Club, and Charlie and Kathy Gould of the Narrow Gauge Riders ATV Club. Several HPA board members were present, as well as a local Game Warden. Nancy Perlson acted as the High Peaks Alliance’s spokesperson. [Tucker 2016]
Senator Saviello, Nancy, Commissioner McGrane, and Ralph Luce all spoke in front of the assembled attendees before the ribbon cutting. Commissioner McGrane stressed how important projects like this were to Maine’s Economy. Though the effects are not always visible, non-profits contribute $10 billion to Maine’s economy and volunteers contribute 350,000 hours of their time every year. [Tucker 2016] He also made the observation that the bridge provided connectivity between sections of Franklin County that expanded the economic impact of outdoor recreation and sports. [Abbate 2016]
Senator Saviello congratulated the organization and collaboration that went into the completion of the bridge, saying “That’s why this success lays out here because you did it together.” [Abbate 2016]
Public access is a major interest of the High Peaks Alliance. The bridge is just one of many trail connectivity, and economic development issues that the High Peaks Alliance has worked to address. As Nancy Perlson put it, “For this region, as most of you probably know, backcountry recreation is kind of the backbone of the regional economy. So it’s important to have these kinds of facilities and infrastructure that let people safely and comfortably enjoy what we have to offer.” [Abbate 2016]
The old bridge had been patched together from the remains of old riveted iron beams salvaged from the railroad and was becoming unsafe. Ralph Luce commented that when pulling trail grooming equipment over the bridge, he could feel the bridge’s failing structure reacting to the weight. [Abbate 2016]
The support girders were badly rusted and the center support was washed out by Tropical Storm Irene in 2012. The new bridge doesn’t require a support in the stream and was able to utilize the existing granite cribbing to minimize impacts on the stream which is a tributary of the Orbeton, which supports native brook trout and Atlantic salmon.
The multi-use trail which accesses the Perham Stream bridge, crosses through six thousand acres of working forest, which was recently protected by a conservation easement in partnership with the Trust for Public Land. Funding from the Forest Legacy Program, the Land For Maine’s Future program and many generous donors supported the acquisition of the conservation easement. The Linkletter family continues to own the land and harvest trees. Income from tree harvests and the easement sale support their mill operation and contribute to the region’s forest products economy. The High Peaks Alliance served as a local partner for the TPL, organizing critical local public support for the project. Public support allowed the project to successfully compete for funding and established the terms of the easement which preserves the beautiful trail for multi-use public access.
The High Peaks Alliance was grateful to meet with so many members of the Franklin County community and is especially appreciative of our collaborative partners with the North Franklin Snowmobile Club and Narrow Gauge Riders. We would like to thank those that donated food to our celebration from the White Elephant, the Coca-Cola bottling Company, and Edmund’s Market. And, an especially grateful thank-you to those who provided our funding at the Franklin County TIF Committee, the Betterment Fund, and the Maine RTP Program.
Tucker, V. (2016, August 28). Bridge spanning Perham Stream now open.Franklin Sun Journal. Retrieved August 29, 2016, from http://www.sunjournal.com/news/franklin/2016/08/28/bridge-spanning-perham-stream-now-open/1983987
Abbate, L. (2016, August 27). Perham Stream Bridge completion touted as successful collaboration. Morning Sentinal. Retrieved August 29, 2016, from http://www.centralmaine.com/2016/08/27/perham-stream-bridge-completion-touted-as-successful-collaboration/