October 22, 2015
Contact: Rachelle Curran Apse, Executive Director of PRLT, (207) 400-7154
The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust joined today with members of Gorham’s Great Falls School community to officially open a 1-mile nature loop trail on conserved property adjacent to the school. Though also accessible to the public, the school plans to use the trail throughout the year for outdoor learning opportunities.
The ribbon cutting is the culmination of a four-year collaboration that mobilized over 70 volunteers in donating hundreds of hours of time to build the trail. The trail is on the Hawkes Preserve, which is 40 acres of conserved land owned by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust that includes over 2000 feet of frontage on the Presumpscot River. The loop trail has two trailheads that are both open to the public, the first is behind the school and can be accessed by parking in the school parking lot and the second is at the end of Tow Path Road off Route 202 in Gorham.
After the ribbon cutting nearly 100 students went on the inaugural hike with guides from the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust. Students were the first to get to experience the six educational stops along the trail where they learned more about the unique natural lands in their community. Informational pamphlets for the new nature trail are available at both trailheads for the public to use and explore.
At the ribbon cutting, Presumpscot Regional Land Trust board member Don Wescott spoke about the volunteers who made the trail possible. “As a volunteer board member, I led the creation of this new nature trail, which would not have been possible without the the hundreds of hours of time volunteers committed including students from this school. Volunteers were involved in every aspect of building the trail from trimming to mulching but by far the most effort was spent building and updating more than ten bridges, the largest bridge alone took three full days of volunteer work crews. My grandchildren are my motivation for devoting countless volunteer hours in order to see this trail completed, knowing this preserve and trail is permanent and future generations will be able to get out into the forest and explore is why I have been a leader with the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust for nearly a decade. I look forward to being a part of creating more new trails in this region for the public to enjoy in the coming years.”
Principal Becky Fortier spoke about the importance of the new trail for the school. “Teachers are constantly searching for ways to bring the science and social studies curriculum alive for their students. What better way than to get outdoors and see it in action? We are so fortunate that Great Falls School is located on this amazing property that has allowed teachers to take advantage of many outdoor learning opportunities. Our school garden, outdoor classroom, and pond area have been utilized tremendously by all students in kindergarten through grade 5. To think that we now have a 1-mile nature loop trail adjacent to our school property is extremely exciting. The learning opportunities are endless. Thank you Presumpscot Regional Land Trust for creating this experience for our students and community.”
State Representative for Gorham, Linda Sanborn, spoke of the importance of the trail for public health. “As a retired family doctor and State Representative that has spent years focused on health care issues, I am especially conscious of the health benefits the nature loop trail provides for students and the public by increasing opportunities for exercise, preventing obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular risk factors. Disease prevention saves the state taxpayers money and saves lives.”
BACKGROUND: The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust is a non-profit that conserves lands and provides public access to families, and future generations, to have the room to play outside, to hike and bike through the forest and along the rivers, and to enjoy the fruits of local working farms in six towns connected by the Presumpscot River Watershed: Gorham, Gray, Sebago, Standish, Westbrook and Windham. The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust has conserved over 1000 acres of land and has 6 public access preserves with trails that are free and open to the public. Learn more at www.prlt.org.
Above on the left: Becky Fortier, Principal of Great Falls Elementary School
Above on the right: Don Wescott, Board Member of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust
Above on the left: Gorham State Representative Linda Sanborn
Above on the right: Eight Grade Student and Trail Volunteer Haley Caron
Above on the left: Eight Grade Student and Trail Volunteer Connor Donnolly
Above on the right: Fourth Graders on the Inaugural Nature Loop Trail Hike on Hawkes Preserve
Fourth Graders on the Inaugural Nature Loop Trail Hike on Hawkes Preserve