canada africa partner reservation Maine Trail Center gets a generous boost from Mark McAuliffe’s gift

Maine Trail Center gets a generous boost from Mark McAuliffe’s gift

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Since 1976, the Maine Trail Crew has been a critical part of the Maine Appalachian Trail Club’s efforts to maintain the state’s 270-mile stretch of AT – plus side trails, shelters, campsites and privies. These people do the hard work, building bridges and rock work for example, which regular volunteers cannot do.

But over the past thirty years, the seasonal team has been forced to move six times due to a lack of a home base. However, that situation is about to change dramatically, thanks in part to the generous donation from a MATC member.

The new facility, located in Skowhegan, will be formally named “The Maine Trail Center: Honoring the Memory of Mark McAuliffe, a Devoted Member and Volunteer of MATC.” McAuliffe, 66, died last October at his home in Scarborough, but in his final days he arranged a monumental gift of more than $1 million to catapult the club’s 10-year ‘Trail Champions’ capital campaign into position to finally begin construction make it possible. to start.

Educated at Colby College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McAuliffe enjoyed a successful career as a businessman and entrepreneur. He was also a passionate hiker and cyclist, outdoorsman and world traveler, and was actively involved in a variety of professional and non-profit organizations. Among these groups was the MATC, where he had volunteered as a trail manager since 2005.

“Joe Kilbride and I were good friends and long-time hiking buddies of Mark, and we were the team that maintained the Buck Hill portion of the AT in Monson,” said Chris O’Neil. “It was Mark who referred us to the North Woods, and Mark took the initiative to sign us up as trustees. Mark’s rationale was clear: “Think of all the paths we’ve walked, and how much we’ve taken away from them. Don’t we owe it to those trails to give something back?’

“Mark loved the precision of the maintenance work and the reward we received for something as simple as making the trail passable, safe and enjoyable,” said O’Neil. “I get tingles when I think back to the passing walkers who always thanked us for our ‘work’. Mark found particular satisfaction in this unassuming and unpretentious aspect of MATC volunteering: that our toil takes place in the folds, with really only intrinsic rewards.

The new Maine Trail Center will be a permanent home for the Maine Trail Crew. The modern building will incorporate passive solar energy and other green energy into its design, meeting space, a kitchen, housing for 34 people, showers, laundry room, office space, a tent area, an outdoor work area and parking. A maintenance building will serve as storage and workshop. Last summer, two crew quarters were built by the National Guard.

According to Lester Kenway, president of the MATC from 2009 to 2022 and chairman of the Trail Champions campaign, construction has already begun on the ramp to the complex, which is located on 55 acres of land leased from the Somerset Woods Trustees. Work on site will continue through May, buildings will be completed from June and the project should be completed by the end of the year. The crew will occupy the center in May 2025.

“Mark’s gift made this possible. There is a sense of relief now that the goal has been achieved. No other AT club has taken on such a huge project. But this was important to do,” Kenway said. “Mark’s love for Maine and the AT was matched only by his love for his family. Mark’s memory will live on in the memories of all who visit the Maine Trail Center.”

Nearly 500 individuals, foundations and corporations have added their support to the Trail Champions campaign, which has raised $2.97 million to date, including McAuliffe’s donation. The current pandemic and inflation-affected goal is $3.2 million, so fundraising will continue, but bright sunlight at this end of this long and winding path is in sight.

The new trail center is located just off US Route 2 in Skowhegan and a 40-minute drive from Augusta. It is centrally located not only to the Appalachian Trail corridor, but also to land trusts and other similar groups who will also use the multi-use facility for events and meetings, and as a training center for trail design, construction, maintenance and restoration, as well as for the use of chainsaws.

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been a volunteer trail manager with the MATC for 20 years and a two-time AT thru hiker. Please support MATC’s efforts to preserve our beloved section of the AT in Maine (matc.org).


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