News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, November 27, 2013
Wheelchair nature trail coming to Young’s Point Road Road
Project nature trail and park project wins National Park Service grant

by Anne Berleant

What began as a “dream of creating a wheelchair and walker accessible nature trail,” now has the backing of the National Park Service.

Joan McCracken, of Brooksville Friends and Neighbors, said the Young’s Point Road project has been awarded a “Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance” grant, through the NPS Brunswick Office.

“It’s not a grant of money, it’s a grant of time,” said NPS staffer Julie Isbill, who visited the site in June with McCracken and Selectman John Gray.

The site is located on 2.3 acres of town land about halfway down Young’s Point Road. It borders 40 acres of land currently owned by The Conservation Trust of Brooksville, Castine and Penobscot, a parcel that includes Bagaduce River shorefront. A trail to connect the town land with the conservation land is being discussed, Isbill said.

McCracken was “the mastermind” of the proposed project, Isbill said, while McCracken credits Brooksville resident Lola Bogyo for her inspiration. “It was her idea,” McCracken said.

The NPS grant will allow Isbill to help plan and write grants to fund the creation of a trail for wheelchairs and strollers and a nature playground for children.

McCracken said project planning and grant writing will take place in 2014, with the work to begin in 2015.

The cost of the project can only be determined “once a design plan is in place,” Isbill said. The town voted to put $1,000 towards the project last March.

“That was the initial vote of faith,” McCracken said.

The final project cost will depend on the how much volunteers can contribute, Isbill said. The Friends and Neighbors group is assembling a team of volunteers, including a logger, a landscape architect, and a grant writer.

“The major cost is creating the trail,” Isbill said, which will require materials and heavy equipment. A nature trail that can be safely used by wheelchairs and walkers essentially is a dirt road, she explained. “In the end, it’s like making a packed dirt road or driveway.”

The trail will lead from Young’s Point Road to the park, which will have its own trail around its perimeter or in a figure eight.

“It will be a place for the elderly of Brooksville, where they can get outside,” Isbill said.

The National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program supports community-led natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the nation to help design trails and parks, conserve and improve access to rivers, protect special places, and create recreation opportunities.