YARMOUTH – A GPS in one hand and a fistful of bright red markers in the other, Jim Tasse looked up and down the slight path through the woods.

A longtime mountain biker, Tasse was putting the first markers down for a new six-mile hiking and biking trail that will eventually wind from the power station on Cousins Island inland to the Pan Am Railroad tracks, weaving in and out of the woods that line the CMP power line corridor.

“There’s a compromise between the tight-and-twisty and the open-and-flowing, so mountain bikers like the trail — but it will control their speed,” said Tasse, the education director at the Bike Coalition of Maine.

Tasse was marking the trail last week with Dan Ostrye, the director of Yarmouth’s Bike and Pedestrian subcommittee, who put the deal together.

The town has had a 20-year lease with CMP allowing it to develop trails on the land, but never did anything with it. Last fall, Ostrye started making plans, and by this spring, he had the council’s unanimous permission to proceed.

Ostrye and Tasse say they are just getting started.

It starts with the stakes, and they hope to start breaking the trails — cutting brush and logs, moving stones, trimming tree branches — in July.

Ostrye said he’s had plenty of support from the town and the community. In addition to the Bike Coalition, he’s working closely with the New England Mountain Bike Association and Yarmouth Community Services.

The council required that they send letters to the scores of property abutters and post notices in the paper about their plans to allow for public comment.

“In the 10 years I’ve been working in the town, this was the first time I asked for support and had a full room of interest,” Ostrye said. “We want to get the community involved and have a safe place for kids.”

There are already trails in the area, but this would be the first major mountain biking trail system in Yarmouth, he said.

“There is Bradbury Mountain or Pineland, but there is a lot of excitement to have a place like this in town,” said Sue Ellen Bordwell, another member of the Bike and Pedestrian Committee.

“The Bike and Pedestrian Committee did the research, and we gave them our blessings,” Town Council Vice Chair Tom Renehan said.

Ostrye said the trails are designed to address some of the concerns raised by the council, such as environmental impact and possible conflict between bikers and hikers.

Ostrye, an environmental consultant, said they plan to make the trails open enough for hikers and bikers to see each other, as well as create turns in the trail to slow down bikers. ATVs are not allowed under the lease agreement. Dogs are allowed, either on leash or under voice control, but horses are not.

There is already an informal network of paths under the CMP lines and in the adjoining woods, and much of the new trail will build off those. But there will be some clearing and cutting of trees and brush, and simple wooden bridges to get over swampy areas or obstacles.

Ostrye said they don’t plan to use any town money for the project and will rely on volunteers and private fundraising to complete the project. Another option is applying for grants, or that local community and student groups may adopt segments of the trail to maintain.

“This is an active community, and people are always doing outdoorsy things,” said Bob Grout, the alpine ski coach at Yarmouth High School, when he heard about the project. “This will be great for the Yarmouth community.”

While the initial trail is six miles long, Tasse said they hope to extend it or link it to a larger trail system.

“We have a great group of people who roll up their sleeves and get it done,” Ostrye said.

Staff Writer Ellie Cole can be contacted at 791-6359 or at:

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