DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Piscataquis County Commission is contributing $10,000 toward a project that will bring 25 miles of bike trails to the Moosehead Lake region.
Greenville-based nonprofit Moosehead Outdoor Alliance requested the funds to build the trails in the Little Moose Public Lands area. The group aims to create and maintain mountain biking trail systems in the region, according to its website.
The project — which could cost about $750,000 for three zones of trails — is already underway. As a growing sport nationally, mountain biking could be a major attraction in the Moosehead Lake region, along with the proposed ski resort redevelopment in Big Moose Township. Both projects promise to bring more visitors and economic prosperity to the region.
The $10,000 contribution from Piscataquis County is part of a $120,000 investment to complete the first phase of the project. Aucoin Property Services began construction on the first zone of the trails a few weeks ago, Treasurer Rodney Folsom Jr. said.
“We currently have commitments for over $150,000, which will allow us to finish Zone 1 and start the design plan for Zones 2 and 3,” the group said in a letter to commissioners dated May 25. “This project, when completed, will make the Greenville region a major bike destination area that will benefit our local community and county.”
The Moosehead Outdoor Alliance already has the necessary permitting from the state’s Bureau of Parks and Lands.
Two loops have been completed for the project’s first phase, totaling about a half-mile of trail near Gravel Pit Pond, Folsom Jr. said. The first zone is geared toward beginners and intermediate bikers, while the second zone is more intermediate and advanced, he said.
Offering a variety of trails should help build a bike culture in the area and encourage young families and children to use the trails, he said.
“The goal is to finish a couple small loops, so they’re rideable, and then keep on expanding,” he said. “We hope to have a rideable trail later this summer.”
The second zone of trails will be built in the south ridge of the Little Moose Public Land area, while the third zone will be in the north ridge, according to the group’s website. Construction for the second zone would ideally begin next year, Folsom Jr. said.
In terms of funding, the group hopes to run under budget for the first phase of the project, he said. Leftover funding could roll into the second phase and be used to apply for matching grants.
The Moosehead Outdoor Alliance wants to bring more groups to the region to use trails and explore local businesses, Folsom Jr. said.
The organization has looked at other communities, such as Carrabassett Valley and East Burke in Vermont, as models for building more trails and bringing an economic boost to their areas, he said. Greenville could become more of a year-round destination by adding more activities like bike trails that are appealing to all ages, he said.
The bike trails will be nice to have in conjunction with the redeveloped ski resort, Commissioner Andrew Torbett said.
Commissioners approved the Moosehead Outdoor Alliance’s request on Tuesday. Then they amended it, so funds would be dispersed after July 1. The funds are in the budget that begins in July, County Manager Michael Williams said.