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New Timber Point Trail at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
Northeast Region, September 21, 2012
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Friends President Bill Durkin and Resident Volunteer Sue Keefer install tideclock at Timber Island trailhead for visitor safety.
Friends President Bill Durkin and Resident Volunteer Sue Keefer install tideclock at Timber Island trailhead for visitor safety. - Photo Credit: USFWS

In an extraordinary public/private partnership (locals raised over $2M), the 157-acre Timber Point and Timber Island parcels were acquired at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in December 2011. By March 2012 the refuge had a trail roughed in; volunteers, staff, and Maine Conservation Corps all pitched in; the trail was essentially complete and open by May. Over the summer, our Youth Conservation Corps built a ramped observation platform, completing the universally accessible portion of the Timber Point Trail. A tide clock was installed at the Timber Island trailhead (the island is accessible at low tide but impassable at high tide), the City of Biddeford painted parking stripes, and they donated a bike rack for the parking area. Visitors are also welcome to bring their canoe or kayak to the Little River for a different refuge experience. 

Resident volunteers Sue Keefer and Steve Norris were there every day from May to September and provided interpretive walks each Friday and Saturday. The walking trail transverses cattail marshes, wet shrublands, fields, and riparian habitat leading to the ocean. The elevated platform on the accessible trail provides views of the Little River, cattail marshes, an oxbow, fringing salt marshes, mud flats (used by feeding shorebirds), the estuary, and islands in the distance. 

Visitor approval is very high as reported to volunteers and staff. The six parking spaces fill and empty multiple times a day and the bike rack is surprisingly active. Many of the trail users live locally, they walk from their cottages and beach houses to the trail head. The most frequent comment is on the quiet; being surrounded by nature, the feeling of being away from it all. The refuge has contacted all the residents on the access road twice to keep them informed of our plans and progress. 

The refuge still has to replace the temporary ‘Welcome, under construction’ with a permanent welcome sign and plans are to use a sign to tell the story of the estuary and islands at the end of the trail. These signs are ordered but not delivered. Some of the trail tread will require maintenance until foot traffic compacts the soil and wood chips. Some research is permitted now and there is interest in permits for vegetation and avian work in the future. We are very grateful to all the people that made this happen.


Contact Info: Ward Feurt, 2076469226, ward_feurt@fws.gov
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