Friday, August 19, 2016

Blackstrap Hill Preserve offers plenty of choices - By Stephen Signor



Contained within 280 acres off Blackstrap Road in Falmouth is a 1.8 mile loop trail that awaits exploration. The Blackstrap Hill Community Forest and Preserve consists of two separate properties totaling nearly 600 acres welcoming those interested in mountain biking, hiking, walking and trail running. Snowshoeing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, hunting, fishing, nature study and horseback riding are all allowed. To this end it is accessible year-round. Motorized vehicles are prohibited with the exception of snowmobiles and then only on marked trails. Trails are not handicapped accessible and although dogs are permitted they must be kept on a leash.

Most of the town-owned land was acquired in 1995 as part of a comprehensive effort to preserve Wilshore Farm. The remainder of the property was acquired in 1999 by the Falmouth Land Trust. Both purchases were aided by Land for Maine Future grants. Historically, both properties were either woodlots or pasture. Water pipes found near the river are artifacts of the portable steam-power sawmills used on the site in the 1920s. The utility line was established in 1929. Located just a couple hundred yards north of Mast Road access to the preserve can also be made from here. Entering here can be rewarding during the late summer months as blackberries are abundant and ready for picking. 

There are three designated access points making exploration convenient. They are located on Blackstrap Road, Hurricane Road and just a short distance north of the Babbidge Road/Blackstrap intersection. Parking is available and each access point has an information kiosk. While there are no handheld maps available, there are laminated trail maps posted at each junction. Each trail is color coded with corresponding tree markers making exploration worry free of getting lost. 

An extensive trail network, Blackstrap offers nature lovers the best an area of its size can offer. In addition to a diverse variety of flora and fauna the preserve is also home to a variety of wildlife. The Piscataquis River can be particularly scenic and during the wet season several small but picturesque waterfalls can be seen. 

There are choices of direction based on the level of physical ability, but none so extreme to discourage. Trail surfaces range from smooth, rocky or rooted to some that are bridged over wet areas. As with any heavily wooded area deer ticks are common so precautions are recommended to avoid Lyme Disease. This is also a popular hunting area, so caution should be observed in the fall by wearing orange as outer clothing is highly recommended by the Falmouth Land Trust.

Directions and further information can be obtained at www.Falmouthlandtrust.org or www.Alltrails.com.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Ride safe: It's the law! - By Stephen Signor

Maine has some of the most bike-friendly traffic laws in the country. These laws are designed to make bicycling safe, fun and healthy for all riders. The more you know the law, the more confident you’ll feel and consequently the more you’ll enjoy your ride. More than any other single factor, riding in accordance with the law reduces risk of accident and injury to bicyclists. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine worked closely with legislators and organizations statewide in June of 2014 to pass LD 1460, A Bill to Revise Maine Bicycle Law in an effort to further improve safety and accessibility for all riders. These laws do however apply to both cyclists and motorists.
While the recent paving of River Road has facilitated a safer and smoother riding area with wider shoulders it is still an extremely busy road and staying as far right as possible will benefit both rider and motorist. While the law requires motorists to allow a three-foot buffer zone when passing a bicycle enabling bicyclists to travel safely and without intimidation, this is not always possible. On roads or major thorough fares such as Route 302 cyclists are allowed a travel lane giving cyclists the ability to safely prepare for turns, overtake slower moving vehicles, and to avoid obstacles and hazards such as opening car doors, potholes, sand, and glass. Bikes may legally operate anywhere within the travel lane. Taking advantage of this comes with responsibility by appropriately observing the same rules and courtesies of motorists. Bicyclists are expected to observe stop signs, red lights, one-way streets, yield right-of-way. To reiterate bikes should remain as far to the right as is safely possible. 

http://www.windhampowersports.com/In spite of all this, the main focus of riders should be to make sure they can be seen. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine warns “Being visible is by far the dominant cause of bike accidents because motorist claim they did not see the cyclist. All nighttime riders benefit from both headlights and taillights. Maine requires at least a light in front visible enough to 200 feet and a reflector in the rear when riding after dark. What the law does not include is left to the riders own sense of safety. A prime example is wearing the right clothing to be visible during the day and especially at night. Reflective clothing is highly recommended. 

“It is also a good idea to wear clothing that fits snuggly. Wearing baggy jeans/pant for instance can get caught in the chain causing a spill. Such could happen also with shoe laces.” There is a valid reason the majority of cyclists seen on the road are wearing Lycra and footwear with Velcro closures.
Last but not least there is headgear. Have a helmet? Don’t leave home without it. There seems to be a bit of confusion about who should wear them. For adults it is of course always highly recommended but not mandatory by state law. However, children less than 16 years old are required by law to do so. There’s a reason for wearing this protection. Gravity dictates that the upper body will hit the ground first or a very close second. A helmet is designed to save a rider from a serious concussion in a fall. 

For clarity and further information on how to get out there and ride safe there is a quick guide to your rights and responsibilities available from The Bicycle Coalition of Maine at www.bikemaine.org.

Maine soccer wins national tournament



The U17 Premiere Soccer team from Seacoast United won the US Club Soccer National Tournament in Aurora, Colorado in late July under the direction of coach Paul Cameron. 

The team defeated CFC United out of Connecticut with a score of 3-2 to win the championship.
The team is made up of boys from all over Maine, including Robert Inniss from Windham.

In the picture, from left to right, back row: Coach Martyn Keen, Tyler Richman, Greyson Cohen, Alex Frank, Michael Lydick, Jonata Mbongo, Noah Niles, Henry Coolidge, Chase Pierce, Peter Mayhorn, Robert Inniss and coach Paul Cameron.
From left to right front row: Matt Dostie, Garth Berenyi, Tyler Welch, Nick Buckley, Jake Lapierre, Ryan Firmin, Jackson Fotter and Sam Wilkinson.

Windham Babe Ruth ends season with big win - By Jim Beers

The Windham Babe Ruth baseball team, sponsored by Bob the Screenprinter, capped off a magical summer season by winning the Greater Portland Babe Ruth League Championship last week. In a league with 24 teams and 3 divisions, Windham played in the West division, with two other Windham teams, two teams from Gorham, two from Bonny Eagle and one from Westbrook. 

rita.theriault@raymondmaine.orgHeading into the final four playoffs as the No. 1 seed, from compiling a 15-2 regular season record,
Windham opened up the tournament by beating Scarborough 15-3. 

"Great hitting by everyone in that game, as well as phenomenal pitching by Chris (Naylor) and Bryce (Afthim)," said head coach Brett Turenne. 

That win propelled the boys into the league championship against Salvage BBQ of Portland. Evenly matched teams had the game scoreless until the top of the fifth inning when Portland managed to push a run across. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh, Windham made good on their last chance as with 1 out and runners on 2nd and 3rd, Anthony West ripped a ball down the left field line, scoring both runners to win in walk-off fashion, giving Windham Bob the Screenprinter the title, 2-1. 

Naylor went the distance on the mound, giving up only one hit, while striking out 14 Portland batters. "That was one of the best games I've ever been involved in. Both teams played great defense and the pitching was outstanding. This team never gives up, just a great bunch of kids. I look forward to see them grow in Windham baseball," said Turenne. Windham went 6-0 in division play, and 17-2 overall. 

The team members are: Anthony West, Mark Winter, Max Lauzier, Kyle Herzig, Nick Kilgallon, Anthony Kilgallon, Andrew Wing, Chris Naylor, Bryce Afthim, Brady Afthim, Robbie Soucy, Grady Bilodeau and Nathan Plummer. The coaches are Brett Turenne and assistant coach Rick West.

Friday, August 5, 2016

A local excursion at Windham's Lowell Preserve - By Lorraine GLowczak

A change of pace and a little adventure always adds new vigor to our everyday lives. Although it is true that, for many, travel to foreign lands is what kicks renewal back into our souls, we often overlook and dismiss the beauty and charm that surround us. There is no end to the Maine adventure and many of those expeditions for daily rejuvenation can occur right here in the Windham/Raymond area.

One backyard adventure can be seized at the 308 acres of trails in Windham at the Roscoe and Elva Lowell Preserve, known simply as the Lowell Preserve. The preserve was purchased by the Windham Town Council as a recreation area in May of 1999. Located at the East Windham Fire Station on 47 Babbidge (Falmouth) Road, one can safely park their car and easily find the entrance to the preserve at the left of the fire building.

Entering the newly mulched trail entrance, the hiker will immediately find herself in a wooded paradise that contains a number of trail loops, ranging from .3 to 3.4 miles in length. This expansive sanctuary is open to every form of activity, accommodating individual preferences that include walking and hiking, mountain biking, ATVing, snowmobiling, horseback riding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. The nature paths are also dog friendly so a morning hike with your fur buddy off leash is a great way to start the day.

The trails contain various surfaces that not only include a few wood-chipped paths but packed soil, large rocks, and exposed roots as well. You will also experience slow inclines from time to time and walk over bridges built out of thick logs or wood slatted crossings. A hiker will also meet up with large wet boulders to cross the beautiful McIntosh Brook. As a result, it is best to wear some good hiking shoes to safely enjoy your adventure.
http://www.windhampowersports.com/ 
The assorted trails that meander through the preserve consist of three major loops that are marked by yellow, blue and green blazes. The Maine Trail Finder describes the loops in detail. “The yellow-blazed loop is called the Libby Hill Loop Trail and circumvents the boundary of the property, almost 3.5 miles. Most of the Libby Hill Loop Trail is for hiking, mountain bikes and ATV users. The blue trail-blazed trail is called the Virginia Trail and heads towards the center of the property, looping back after ending about half way into the property. The Virginia Trail is 1.7 miles in length. The green-blazed trail is called the Roscoe Loop Trail and is a 1.5 mile loop in the northern section of the property.” And as with most trail loops there are the connector paths that link up all the loops marked by orange and red blazes. For more detailed information, go to the Maine Trail Finder website: http://www.mainetrailfinder.com/trails/trail/lowell-preserve, or visit the Windham Parks and Recreation website for a trail map at: http://me-windham.civicplus.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/Lowell-Preserve-34

The unknown author of a meaningful quote once said, “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” So, let us seek out the adventures that are so abundantly around and available to us, the residents of this state and the towns surrounding the great lakes region. When you need that break from your daily routine to put a little renewed hop (and hope) into your life, you need not go far. Visit one of the local nature preserves, of which there are many. First stop? The Lowell Preserve in East Windham.

*It should be noted that during hunting season, the Lowell Preserve, as with many of the other surrounding wooded trails, are open to hunters. If you walk the preserve during hunting season, wearing an orange vest is advisable.