AUBURN — In additional methods than one, the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for the path system at Mount Apatite.
Extra individuals than ever have been taking to the outside for recent air and train, and in Auburn, skilled trail-builder Wil Libby has been capable of dedicate himself to path upkeep and stewardship at Mount Apatite Park.
Libby, now 42, grew up on the path community there — a self-described “BMX child” who went on to construct trails professionally in locations just like the Katahdin Woods and Waters Nationwide Monument and on the Appalachian Path.
In regular instances, Libby runs a nonprofit group referred to as Evergreen Out of doors Schooling, which conducts wilderness outings for veterans and folks with particular wants. He additionally works for OBP Trailworks, based mostly in Turner, which has performed path initiatives throughout the nation. However, due to COVID-19, Libby’s outings have been particularly restricted.
“Mount Apatite, being a spot I grew up and used for a superb chunk of my life, I assumed I’m simply going to do some volunteer work, tweak the paths just a little bit and see what I can do,” he stated.
Mount Apatite Park is a 300-acre leisure space within the western a part of the town, that includes an in depth path system. Libby stated he’s by no means seen the paths so busy, and that individuals will typically cease to ask what he’s as much as, which he makes use of as an opportunity to show them about erosion and different points.
What started as an opportunity to “kill a while” within the spring changed into a summer-long mentoring program for highschool college students, which he’s hoping will foster a brand new era of path stewards within the area. The chance got here by the central Maine chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Affiliation
Sabrina Finest, director of Auburn’s Recreation Division, stated Libby has carried out “a tremendous job” all through the summer time, rebuilding trails and mentoring new path stewards.
Libby and the scholars constructed a brand new leg of path, the place they discovered about sustainable trail-building and the way it can impression the area people and economic system. He stated the suggestions from riders thus far has been “phenomenal.”
He stated the pandemic has additionally highlighted “the significance of getting exterior in protected inexperienced areas to your personal psychological well being.” He’s run throughout a number of individuals at Mount Apatite who instructed him they’d by no means hiked there earlier than, and had been amazed by the “path community so near dwelling.”
Libby has used the inflow of recent hikers to host small strolling excursions, utilizing the Pals of Mount Apatite social media web page to supply perception on learn how to make the path system higher.
“I believe it’s about learn how to put some TLC on these trails, and assist the typical volunteer enhance their ability set so we are able to all be good path stewards, and care for this property collectively,” he stated.
Libby grew up in Turner and lives in Livermore. He’s additionally carried out work at Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth, the Camden Snow Bowl and different areas throughout New England. He helped the Auburn-Lewiston YMCA construct a wheelchair-accessible path alongside Bobbin Mill Brook.
Going ahead, he plans to work with metropolis workers in Auburn to arrange a “sturdy volunteer group,” in order that extra organized work can happen within the spring. However, he stated, he plans to be out on the paths all through the autumn, and he snowshoes throughout the winter.
“We are able to make a very targeted job record heading into subsequent spring, and get the paths up and even higher,” he stated. “If we comply with that mannequin for a number of years, we’ll have a world-class vacation spot proper right here in Auburn.”
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