In the November 2011 report “Connect People to the Outdoors,” principal investigator and USM Muskie Professor Richard Barringer, advocates completing seven New England recreational corridors, including three located in Maine. Given the current state of the nation’s economy how can this report, commissioned by the National Park Service, advocate that money be spent on recreational trails that will stitch together a region and even reach into Canada?
Barringer feels that access to green space may hold the solution to an American health crisis that leaves obese youth and adults with an increased risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, arthritis, and other avoidable ailments. Completion of these corridors also will increase livability in adjacent areas, provide conservation corps and employments opportunities, environmental education, and recreational opportunities, leading to healthy outcomes and increased awareness of land conservation.
Maine’s projects are the Androscoggin River, the inspiration for the Clean Water Act; the East Coast Greenway, a multi-use trail to eventually connect Maine to Florida; and the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, the longest inland water trail in the U.S. The proposed completion of these projects involves extending the East Coast Greenway and Northern Forest Canoe Trail to Canada and increased accessibility to the Androscoggin River.
The National Park Service commissioned the report after the July 2010 blue-ribbon Commission on Land Conservation of the New England Governors’ Conference, Inc. recommended pursuit of five New England–wide initiatives. The New England governors responded with their unanimous Resolution 200, authorizing continued development of this initiative, which closely parallels President Obama’s “America’s Great Outdoors” initiative.
See "Connect People to the Outdoors" for the full report.