Old Orchard Beach will develop two town-owned areas as community-managed forests with a grant from the state’s community forestry program.
The $8,000 grant from Project Canopy, the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s community forestry program, will allow the town’s Conservation Commission to expand a trail system and extend access to natural recreation areas.
Milliken Mill Woods, a 51-acre parcel on Portland Avenue, was given to the town 14 years ago by Janice Milliken Andrews to be used for low-impact bicycling and hiking. The second parcel, about 17 acres, is across the street from Milliken Mill Woods.
Both properties have easy access to the Eastern Trail and will offer off-street parking. Engineering design of trail improvements is in progress, with construction planned for this year and 2015. Construction will be done primarily by volunteers.
The recreational areas are expected to open this coming fall or in the spring of 2015.
John Bird, chairman of the Conservation Commission, said hiking and natural trails are increasingly popular for visitors and residents.
“We decided this would be a good addition for the town and our visitors,” he said.
The grant to Old Orchard Beach was among the more than $106,000 awarded this year to communities, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations.
The program awarded six planning and education grants and 11 tree planting and maintenance grants.
Project Canopy is funded by the USDA Forest Service Community Forestry Assistance Program.
Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @grahamgillian