Federal parks grant to help boost Riverlands Park access

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Androscoggin Riverlands State Park, the newest state park in Maine, picked up $90,550 in federal money that will create better access to the site.

The National Parks Service Land and Water Conservation Fund matching grant will help the Maine Bureau of Parks and Land purchase another 87 acres in Turner near the eastern edge of the park. That land will be used to construct a new access point for the park and to expand hiking and mountain biking trails.

“This gives better connectivity to the site via Upper Street,” said Jonathan LaBonte, executive director of the Androscoggin Land Trust. “Looking at the Riverlands park, it’s a long area with entrances on the north and the south sides. There really was no opportunity for an entrance along that space.”

LaBonte said the Maine Department of Conservation has been negotiating with property owners to find a western entrance.

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The mostly wooded park area includes 2,588 acres along the west shore of the Androscoggin River, just north of the Auburn line, and about 200 acres along the east shore in Leeds.

The Riverlands includes significant wildlife habitat, shoreland along 8 miles of the river, old homesteads, scenic views and a recreational trail network needing maintenance. The park has 15 miles of multiuse trails and about 8 miles of hiking trails. Access for camping by backpack only and access to the Leeds section is by river or snowmobile only.

A dedicated main entrance and parking area is off Center Bridge Road; limited access is off Upper Street and south near Conant Road.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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