I appreciated the recent columns by Douglas Rooks on the opportunity we have to create the Merrymeeting Trail (“Show support for Merrymeeting Trail,” March 28) and George Smith on the amazing resource that is the Kennebec River (“Bring back the Kennebec River Initiative,” April 3).

These pieces actually knit together quite nicely. Shortly before emptying into the sea, the Kennebec feeds into Merrymeeting Bay, along with 40 percent of Maine’s freshwater. As it does, it provides some of the most beautiful vistas, unparalleled wildlife habitat, and cherished recreation opportunities in the state.

Along that stretch of the Kennebec and the north edge of the bay runs a rail line that has sat largely unused for over three decades. Merrymeeting Trail is the perfect way to preserve that unused corridor. Doing so would also bring tremendous benefits to the region and to Maine.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in Maine generates $8.2 billion in consumer spending annually. Much of this comes from visitors to the state. Trails connect downtowns — in this case, the towns of Gardiner, Richmond, Bowdoinham and Topsham — and in turn connect those visitors and their dollars to local businesses.

Trails make communities healthier, providing safe transportation alternatives and scenic places to get outdoors. The fact that older adults, parents, teens, and toddlers share trails means they strengthen the social fabric of communities. Building the Merrymeeting Trail would also allow everyone to experience the splendor of the Kennebec River and Merrymeeting Bay.

As Rooks noted, the Legislature is considering L.D. 1141, which would direct the Department of Transportation to put Merrymeeting Trail into its work plan, a critical first step toward its construction. If you’d like to see the Merrymeeting Trail become a reality, please let your legislators know.


Jeremy Cluchey


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