To the Editor:

Sunday, March 21 was Inland Woods + Trails’ last day of operations for this winter season at our Bethel Village Trails system. It was well timed, as we watched the snow melt around a set of classic tracks on Dog Days while dismantling the shelters.

First and foremost, we want to thank the landowners who allow us to prep, maintain, groom, and use trails on their properties: The Bethel Inn Resort, Ted Chadbourne, Fairway Townhouse Association, Kennebec Land Company, Kay Rector, Savage Contracting, Inc., and Jan Stowell.

For decades, these generous business owners and individuals have donated use of their land for recreation, and we are forever grateful for their continued support.

This season we added 7.5km of terrain on four new ski trails and one fat bike/snowshoe trail on the former Chadbourne lands, over 15,000 acres of which were purchased by The Conservation Fund (TCF) last summer.

Thanks to a partnership with TFC, we were able to use existing and incredibly well maintained logging roads for winter activities. Grover’s Grind,I-95, and Fluffernutter quickly became skier and rider favorites, and we look forward to a continued relationship with The Conservation Fund in bringing more trails like these to the public.

A tremendous thanks goes to Allen Connors and his team at The Bethel Inn Resort for all their support, and use of space that is the home base of our Trails Center. We’re grateful for their flexibility this season, and willingness to work with us on the challenges presented by the pandemic.

We owe a debt of gratitude to our staff, who kept a positive attitude throughout the season, flexed wherever needed, and produced beautifully groomed trails (many times in very cold, windy, dark conditions): Andy Bartlett, Eric Boyle-Wight, Jake Burgess, Kurt Fisher, and Sara Sloan. Thank you to Barker Mountain Bikes, for supplying us with high quality rental fat bikes that are always a popular winter offering.

We’re grateful for our partnership with Gould Academy again this season, which allows our guests to have access to their Nordic trail system, and supports us with grooming and machines when needed.

We were happy once again to work with Bethel area schools and the Bethel Outing Club to provide free skiing to all SAD44 district resident children, and season passes on a sliding fee scale/volunteer days for all parent volunteers. It was fun to see so many new students and parents playing in the snow, and we’re excited to continue this program next season.

And last, but certainly not least, we owe a tremendous thank you to our season pass holders, some of whom helped us get up and running by purchasing passes in early season, and others who supported our efforts throughout the winter. You are the backbone of the Trails Center, and make it possible for us to get the trails ready to open, hire staff, and start grooming as soon as snow flies.

Thank you to the rest of our visitors for enjoying the trails, and to everyone for being respectful both on and off the trails: by wearing masks when needed, keeping a safe distance from others, and being kind to all. Though it was a challenging season for sure, you all made it possible for us to stay healthy and open. We’re looking forward to fewer hurdles next season, but just as much fun xc skiing, snowshoeing, and fat biking. Thank you all!

Sarah Weafer
Gabe Perkins
Inland Woods + Trails
Bethel

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