WATERVILLE — The Maine Appalachian Trail Club, an all-volunteer organization that manages nearly 300 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine, held a live demonstration Sunday at Colby College on how to build a privy. The finished product will later be transported to the Appalachian Trail.

The demonstration was held in the run-up to the 41st Appalachian Trail Conservancy Conference, which will be held Aug. 4-11 at Colby. Other events will include a trade show, hikes and excursions, as well as workshops.

The privy, a kind of outhouse for hikers, will be on display until Aug. 6, at which point it will be brought to the Appalachian Trail at West Carry Pond.

Construction of the privy is part of a multiyear effort to rebuild the aging privies located along the nearly 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Laurie Flight, volunteer with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, said the state of privies on the trail has become an issue. She said they’ve become so overused that people on the trail will more likely relieve themselves on the trail itself, which can lead to contamination.

Privies are difficult to build, she explained Sunday as volunteers worked on the wooden structure. Usually, it involves volunteers bringing the materials up a trail to construct, and not just transportation of a finished product.

The privy being built Sunday is part of an effort by the Maine Appalachian Trail Club and the University of Maine College of Engineering to replace 42 aging privies on Maine’s section of the Appalachian Trail, some of which are decades old. Since 2013, the club has replaced less than 10 of those privies but hopes to speed up the process.

“A lot of trails are looking for ways to take care of waste,” said Sherri Langlais, co-chairwoman of the upcoming conference.

Running from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian Trail is maintained by many trail clubs and partnerships, crossing 14 states with an estimated visitor base of 2 million to 3 million a year.

The last time Maine hosted the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Conference, in 1997, nearly 1,400 people attended events at Sunday River. More than 1,200 participants are expected for the Colby conference.

Colin Ellis can be contacted at 861-9253 or at:

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