It was another exciting and busy year for the Conservation Commission. It marked a year full of administrative and project growth. We had a very active seven member committee along with the support of Tom Poirier and the rest of the Planning Department. We have highlighted some of our accomplishments below.
In addition to growing our social media presence (our Facebook page is at 550 Likes), we were able to build our very own website. Both platforms have helped the residents of Gorham connect with GCC and discover what the Town has to offer with regards to conservation, open space and a multi-use network.
We also built a physical presence by having displays at the Gorham Marketplace and the Energy Fair. These events were a success and drew much interest. The common theme we took from these events is that the public wanted trail maps and access to open space.
We were able to create simple maps of the Weeks Road Parcel and Frazier Trail, the Claire Drew Trail behind Narragansett School and the Tannery Brook Preserve. A much more detailed parcel map with information and a color-coded trail reference is currently in production.
These detailed maps will be displayed on the new kiosks that we erected at Claire Drew and Tannery Brook and a similar kiosk is planned for Weeks Road parcel. These beautiful structures were built by Gorham resident, Jonathan Gray. We thank him for donating his labor.
Weeks Road parcel received some much needed attention and love in 2016. It began with repairs of the trail network caused by the Into the Mud events of past years. This also marks the last year of the event at this location. Local Eagle Scout, Aaron Jones, completed a bridge repair at the pond behind the Middle School. Areas of the parcel were hardened and re-routes were made to improve the network. The suspicious "bunker" that was discovered by a dog walker was removed by GCC members and volunteers. The logs were repurposed to turnpike a hazardous section of trail. The entire network of trails have been marked and blazed. In all, I estimate that we spent a total of 300 man hours of labor on this parcel in 2016. We must thank the Gorham Recreation Department for use of their equipment. We also must thank Gorham resident, Corey Theriault, and Windham resident, Jim Hill Sr. Jim and Corey supplied GCC with tractors to move literally tons of gravel and donated their labor.
In the early spring, GCC along with the help of Dale Rines, initiated discussions with Dan and John Shaw to make the "Crosstown Trail" a reality. After much work on behalf of Mr. Rines and the Shaws, the plan to donate the railbed parcel to the Town fell through. Fortunately, the Council voted to purchase the land sometime after that. GCC is currently reaching out to abutters for trail connectivity.
Improvement continues at Tannery Brook with the addition of two new trails. We welcomed a group of 25 volunteers from St. Germain Engineering one afternoon to relocate a section of trail to avoid poison ivy. We also removed two barrels worth of rusty barbed-wire and piles of trash and debris. GCC thanks Mr. Burns and Public Works for aiding us with this removal.
Finally, we continue to strive for a multi-purpose connected trail network in town. In 2016, GCC (aided by Mr. Poirier) worked with developers to create more open space and trail easements. We acquired a trail easement in the Wilson Fields Subdivision, which offers access to the Indian Camp Brook. GCC acquired deeded access along the north side of Glenwood Subdivision along with a trail easement. This is a major win as it gives us direct access to Tannery Brook from the village. It also connects Avesta Housing and Pheasant Knoll communities to the village.
GCC will continue to reach out to private landowners for access. We will also continue to work with the Planning Department and developers. With the arrival of spring comes trail cleanup and repair. Our goals in 2017 will be to make the Crosstown Trail a reality and begin work on the Glenwood/Tannery conservation.