FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Josiah Petrin
L.L.Bean Gifts $200,000 to Trail Champions, the Campaign for the Maine Trail Center
Major gift supports creation of Maine’s first-of-its-kind multi-use trail maintenance and training facility
SKOWHEGAN, Maine (May 24, 2022) – The Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC) announced it has received a $200,000 gift from L.L.Bean for Trail Champions, the Campaign for the Maine Trail Center, a forthcoming multi-use trail maintenance and training facility in Skowhegan centrally located to Maine’s Appalachian Trail (AT) footpath.
The Maine Trail Center is a project of the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, the volunteer nonprofit organization founded in 1935 to manage, maintain and protect the Appalachian Trail in Maine. Distinct from traditional hiking clubs, the MATC’s mission is to care for Maine’s 267 miles of AT footpath, over 60 miles of related side trails and 43 campsites, and to monitor 34,000 acres of National Park Service lands. It does this primarily through the efforts of volunteer trail maintainers, as well as seasonally employed trail crew members recruited to Maine from around the world each spring.
Formally announced in 2021, the Trail Champions campaign originally set out to raise $1.3 million for the construction and operation of the Maine Trail Center. Due to pandemic-related economic conditions and rising construction costs, the goal was adjusted to $1.8 million. L.L.Bean joins 391 individuals, foundations, and businesses who have supported the Trail Champions campaign, which has raised $1.49 million toward the $1.8 million goal.
More than a dozen conservation-focused organizations and institutions have endorsed the Maine Trail Center, including: L.L.Bean, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Maine Conservation Corps, Appalachian Mountain Club, Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, The Student Conservation Association, The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, Forest Society of Maine, Unity College, International Appalachian Trail (IAT/SIA Council), The Town of Skowhegan, Friends of Baxter State Park, Somerset Woods Trustees, White Mountain Trail Collective, High Peaks Alliance, and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.
“With this gift, L.L.Bean is making a transformational investment in the future care of the Appalachian Trail in Maine,” said Lester Kenway, chair of the Trail Champions Campaign and former president of the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. “We are honored and deeply grateful to be chosen for this gift demonstrating L.L.Bean’s commitment to community and environmental stewardship.”
Laurie Gonyea, L.L.Bean’s Appalachian Trail Program Coordinator, oversees the company’s all-volunteer trail crew and believes the Maine Trail Center will enhance Maine’s collective ability to care for the Appalachian Trail for future generations of outsiders.
“The Maine Trail Center will greatly expand the experiential education training program for MATC volunteers and other trail-related organizations, including the L.L.Bean Volunteer Trail Crew,” said Gonyea. “This will be a great benefit to our program as we recruit new sawyers and develop a succession plan to train future crews on the proper techniques for trail work.”
For 43 years, L.L.Bean has worked in collaboration with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club to keep Maine’s section of the Appalachian Trail safely maintained for all to enjoy. Like the MATC’s own volunteer trail maintainers and seasonally employed Maine Trail Crew, the L.L.Bean Volunteer Trail Crew conducts a variety of trail planning, design, construction, and repair activities, with a focus on accessibility for individuals with a wide range of physical abilities.
The L.L Bean volunteer trail crew works primarily within an 18.5-mile section of trail in the legendarily remote area known as the “100 Mile Wilderness,” constructing wetland crossings, stone steps, water bars and other stone trail elements; repairing existing trail sites and facilities; and clearing fallen trees and other obstructions as needed.
Over the years, more than 700 L.L.Bean trail crew members have contributed 48,987 trail and travel hours to clear the trail of blowdowns, maintain three sites (Cooper Brook, Antlers and Potaywadjo), and built or replaced 6,031 feet of bog bridges, 3,014 feet of causeway, 893 feet of rock drainage, 32 water bars, and three bridges. Crew members have also blazed the trail eight times, replaced seven privies, repaired lean-to floors, rear sills, and roofing, and built Potaywadjo Lean-to in 1995.
For more information about the Maine Trail Center and opportunities to support the Trail Champions campaign, please visit www.trailchampions.matc.org.
L.L.Bean, Inc. is a leading multichannel merchant of quality outdoor gear and apparel. Founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean, the company began as a one-room operation selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe. Still family owned, Shawn Gorman, great grandson of Leon Leonwood Bean, was named Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2013. While its business has grown over the years, L.L.Bean continues to uphold the values of its founder, including his dedication to quality, customer service and a love of the outdoors. In 2020, L.L.Bean donated over $6 million to 100+ outdoor and community-enriching organizations, many of which focus on increasing access to outdoor spaces. L.L.Bean operates 54 stores in 19 states across the United States, along with 25 stores in Japan. The 220,000-sq. ft. L.L.Bean retail store campus in Freeport, ME, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and welcomes more than 3 million visitors every year. L.L.Bean can be found worldwide at www.llbean.com, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
About The Maine Appalachian Trail Club
Founded in 1935, the Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC) is a volunteer, nonprofit corporation created to assume responsibility for the management, maintenance, and protection of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in Maine. Except for its limited role in Baxter State Park and excluding 14 miles south of Grafton Notch, the MATC is responsible for all Trail and Trail structure design, construction, and maintenance, campsite maintenance and projects; for monitoring activities in the AT corridor; and for public information and education regarding the Appalachian Trail in Maine. FMI: www.matc.org.
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