NEWRY — The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted Wednesday evening to contact the Maine Department of Transportation as soon as possible about placing temporary no-parking signs in the area of Step Falls Preserve on Bear River Road/Route 26.

Resident Brooks Morton told selectmen at their July 27 meeting that he had noticed a lot of people parking on the side of Bear River Road near the Step Falls hiking trail, and “people were going back and forth across the road” and “going to the bathroom in the area surrounding the trail” because there are no proper restroom facilities.

Some whose land abuts the preserve said people are parking and walking on their property.

The 24-acre preserve along Wight Brook was acquired by the Mahoosuc Land Trust in 2012. A trail leads to a series granite-formed swimming holes and spectacular mountain views.

Town Administrator Amy Bernard said she spoke with Mahoosuc Land Trust President Robert Iles and he agreed to attend the Planning Board meeting Aug. 17 “to discuss expanding the parking lot.”

“He also said the Land Trust is willing to put a porta potty at the site, if the town will allow it,” Bernard said.


She said Iles told her the Land Trust is actively trying to get information removed from the Step Falls Trail website to limit use. The Land Trust agreed that the trail is overused, she said.

Maine Game Warden Rick LaFlamme told selectmen he and the Maine Warden Service had been looking into the conditions at Step Falls after they were brought to his attention.

He said he and the Warden Service set up a “100-foot ugly orange snow fence all the way to the woods, a line that goes across the falls with signs and ribbons telling people: ‘Do not enter.’”

The fence was erected above the falls to mark the boundary next to private property.

“It looks like someone got murdered up there,” LaFlamme said. “It’s clear that you shouldn’t cross the line or enter. We set up a camera and had some wardens up there, and over the three days we had that set up, more than 100 people literally walked through it like it wasn’t there.”

LaFlamme said what he saw during the few days he was in Newry was “appalling.”


“On Saturday, there was around 80 cars parked there,” he said. “I was seeing kids run back and forth across the road. One of these days, someone is going to get killed up there. I can promise you that this weekend, we’ll be up there writing tickets to people who are trespassing on private property.”

After LaFlamme spoke, Selectman Jim Largess said he had been hearing a lot of people say that someone is going to die up there.

“Obviously, we don’t want anyone dying,” Largess said. “That’s not what we want at all. What can we do right now to make that place safer?”

Bernard suggested that the board make a motion to have her or Code Enforcement Officer Dave Bonney contact the state highway department about placing no-parking signs in the Step Falls area.

She said was looking into erecting signs on either side of Route 26 warning drivers that a trailhead was approaching, and watch for people.

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