Reawakening a Historic Paddling Route: Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Inc. Turns 10

For Immediate Release
May 14, 2010

Contact: Kate Williams, Executive Director
Northern Forest Canoe Trail
802-496-2285 or [email protected]

WAITSFIELD, Vt. – Some people take to tinkering in retirement, but Kay Henry and Rob Center have brought the pastime to a new level. Lisa Dyslin route finding

When the couple learned in the late 1990s of an idea to breathe life into a historic 740-mile paddling route through New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire and Maine, they saw the perfect project to keep busy after retiring from executive positions at Mad River Canoe Company.

In 2000, Henry and Center began the nonprofit Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Inc. named after the four-state water route researched and mapped by Ron Canter and Mike Krepner. The mission of NFCT, Inc. was to turn the stretch of linked lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and portage trails, used by Native Americans and early settlers for travel and trade, into an accessible, marked recreational trail.

Henry quickly secured a three-year $500,000 federal grant through the National Park Service to fund the start-up of the organization, and Center began the grassroots town-by-town outreach and planning for the physical trail.

Locals and owners of large forest tracts allowed their private property to be used for campsites, portage access and water access. Others with knowledge of local waterways stepped forward to give guidance on the direction of the trail and provide essential information for the trail’s first set of 13 section maps.

"Only in our wildest dreams could we have imagined how many people and organizations would have an affinity for this project and help us achieve our goal of making the trail a nationally significant recreation resource in such a short period of time," said Henry.

Simultaneous ribbon cuttings in 2004 at the western and eastern trailheads in Old Forge, N.Y., and Fort Kent, Maine, marked the start of the organization’s new vision to see the water trail become a real source of economic impact for each of the 44 communities it touches, and for the people of those communities to develop a sense of ownership for their local waterways.
Groveton kiosk
"The NFCT is a public resource that benefits both tourists and local residents," says Center. "In the future, as our organization works to provide programs that further enhance trail communities, we hope NFCT will be valued and sustained by the communities themselves as well as our increasingly plentiful partners and supporters."

NFCT, Inc. had already received the American Canoe Association (ACA) Green Paddle Award for Waterway Conservation, and the trail had been named an ACA Recommended Water Trail, when it officially opened to the public in June of 2006.

Kate Williams became executive director of NFCT, Inc. in 2004. Under her leadership, NFCT has thoughtfully grown its capacity and turns 10-years-old this year in a strong organizational position, with a full slate of achievements:

    ·    13 sectional maps provide navigational information for the entire route.
    ·    14 primitive waterside and island campsites have been built.
    ·    14 post and beam information kiosks have been installed in villages, towns and cities.
    ·    23 miles of portage trails have been constructed.
    ·    More than 250 trees have been planted along lake and river shores to prevent erosion.
    ·    A series of summer Waterway Work Trips allows volunteers to assist with key improvement projects along the trail.
    ·    A summer intern program provides 6-8 young adults with the opportunity to learn trail and nonprofit skills.
    ·    A network of Trail Adopters has grown to 24 people who care for the trail near their home.
    ·    A 302-page "Official Guidebook to the Northern Forest Canoe Trail," the photo book "Northeast Passage," and the volume "Paddling Through Time," have been published.
    ·    The Northern Forest Explorers outdoors program teaching rural youth about paddling, camping and their backyard waterways was begun.NFCT overview map
    ·     A traveling, independent Paddlers Film Festival is presented at venues throughout the northeast each spring.

A 10th Anniversary celebration will take place July 23-25 in Rangeley, Maine, with paddling-related presentations, guided canoe and kayak outings, an anniversary party with food, a bonfire and live music, and a trail-wide paddling event called "740 Miles in One Day."  

"We are truly grateful for the support that has allowed the NFCT to come so far and look forward to the organization’s long term contributions to the region," says Henry.

For more information about the Northern Forest Canoe Trail go to www.northernforestcanoetrail.org or call 802-496-2285.

Photo Caption: A Northern Forest Canoe Trail information kiosk stands beside the Upper Ammonoosuc River in Groveton, New Hampshire. Credit: Shelly Angers

Photo Caption: Northern Forest Canoe Trail paddlers get a close-up view of farm cows on the Saranac River in New York. Credit: Lisa Dyslin

Photo Caption: The Northern Forest Canoe Trail route map across northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and a portion of Quebec, Canada. Credit: NFCT

About the Northern Forest Canoe Trail:
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a 740-mile inland paddling trail tracing historic travel routes across New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine. NFCT, Inc. is internationally regarded as the preeminent water trail organization in North America, and connects people to the Trail’s natural environment, human heritage, and contemporary communities by stewarding, promoting, and providing access to canoe and kayak experiences along this route.

 

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