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LEWISTON — Jim Roy of Greene offered advice at a public hearing Tuesday night to officials planning the Androscoggin Riverlands, a new state park on the Androscoggin River in Turner.
“If you’re going to put in more trails, put them by the river,” Roy said. “There’ll be less conflict. Don’t get carried away with developing. Let’s keep it the way it is.”
Jim Long of Turner said he hunts in the fall and traps with dogs during the winter on the land becoming a state park. “I don’t see a reason why that should change,” Long said. If people don’t like it, “they can stay out.”
Others attending the hearing over future uses of the new park had other requests.
State Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, wondered whether there would be trails so people could hike or walk into the park from Lewiston-Auburn.
Nancy Holler of Auburn asked whether there could be separate trails for different uses, some for snowmobiles and ATVs, and others for people who like to hike, cross-country ski or do other non-motorized activities. She suggested the activities be “safely separated.”
Dan Marquis of the Stanton Bird Club in Lewiston said nature lovers use the Riverlands Park to watch wildlife and want to continue that “without the drone of snowmobiles and ATVs.”
While many weren’t aware of the miles of wild beauty in Lewiston-Auburn’s backyard, others were. For years the land has been used by mountain bikers, ATV operators, cross-country skiers, horse riders, boaters, snowmobilers, bass anglers, hikers, walkers and history lovers. The land has fields, streams, a boat launch, beautiful views of the river and wildlife including deer and eagles.
Over the past two years, state officials decided to turn the land into a park. So far, new picnic tables and a portable toilet have been installed. The state is working on better maps and has improved some trails, said planner Katherine Eickenberg.
The park will be developed in stages. It won’t be anything like Popham, Reid State or Range Pond, said Will Harris, director of the Bureau of Parks and Land in the Maine Department of Conservation. This park will be unique, a cross between public lands and a state park. Hunting will be allowed in some areas away from where people camp and picnic, officials said.
A new state park hasn’t been opened in more than 20 years. Usually, the state builds a park, then opens it. Because this one has been used for decades, officials came to Lewiston to ask for input from residents.
Ed Plourde of Lewiston said he wanted boat access closer to Lewiston-Auburn. He’d also like access to a trail once on the river.
Emile Bergeron of Lewiston said he’s 71 and has hunted on the land for decades. “I love that piece of land,” he said. He was skeptical about it becoming a state park and doesn’t want change. “Put up a sign. Leave it at that,” Bergeron said.
Melissa Bourgoin of Greene said she rides horses on the land and wants to continue. The trails need to stay open to everyone, she said. “We all need to work together so this doesn’t get paved so out-of-staters don’t get their feet dirty.”
The master plan, which will dictate the park’s vision, will be adopted later this year, Harris said.

Jim Roy of Greene uses a map of Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal to express his concern about over-development of trails in the park during a public hearing conducted by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands at the Lewiston Multi-Purpose Center on Tuesday.

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