Volunteers help clean up dumps, as token of thanks

People across Maine took part in an effort to clean up more than 100 illegal dump sites on private property as part of the state’s fourth annual Landowner Appreciation Day Saturday.

The forestry division of Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has been working with other state agencies and recreational groups to identify locations that need cleaning up. The state is tracking the cleanup progress using an online database.

The day is designed to thank property owners who allow the use of their land for recreational purposes. Unlike in other states where people often have to pay club fees to use undeveloped forest land, much of Maine’s farms and forest lands are free and open to the public. But the state says that leaves them vulnerable to littering or illegal dumps of trash.

Forestry staff supplied trucks and trash bags and volunteers helped to clean up and load the items. The sites could include anything from one piece of discarded furniture to several pickup-truck loads of shingles and mattresses, the state said.

“Efforts like this demonstrate that most Maine people understand that public access to private lands is a special privilege to be respected and cherished, not a right,” Republican Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement.


Veterans celebrate hike on Mount Katahdin summit

After six months, four U.S. military veterans have completed their hike of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, ending with a celebration at the summit of Mount Katahdin.

The 2,185-mile Warrior Hike, called “Walk Off The War,” gives veterans a chance to process their wartime experiences while hiking with others who have been through the same thing. It is designed to help them transition from military to civilian life.

“They are changed people,” Marine Corps Capt. Sean Gobin said Saturday of the veterans who completed the hike. Gobin founded Warrior Hike while deployed to Afghanistan. In 2012, he hiked the trail to support wounded veterans and realized it would be beneficial for other veterans, too.

“First and foremost is that you’re just out in nature and you’re hiking for eight hours a day,” said Gobin, who joined the veterans for their final hike up Katahdin. “And being by yourself with your own thoughts and being outside in the mountains, your brain has no other option but to process all those experiences that you had overseas.”

Fourteen started the hike in Georgia; four finished and two others who left the trail returned on Friday for the final hike and celebration.

— From news service reports

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