Portland, Maine (NEWS CENTER)--The Maine Island Trail has been named the best kayak trail in the country by Outside Magazine. It's just the latest award for a trail that is considered on of Maine's great gems.
It was conceived by David Getchell more than twenty-five years ago. When Getchell heard that the state wanted to encourage people to use the public islands along the coast, he worked to form the trail. Now there are 180 islands on the trail which stretches from Machias, way Downeast all the way to Smutty Nose near the Maine-New Hampshire border.
"People think we're a kayak organization, but we are so much more," said Doug Welch, the Executive Director of the Maine Island Trail Association. The breakdown of the the organization is about half kayakers, a quarter sailors and the other quarter power boaters.
About half of the organization's four thousand members are from Maine.
Campers register in logbooks when they visit islands. A recent economic input survey revealed that MITA visitors generate about two million dollars a year.
There are more than 180 islands along the trail. Landowners make their islands available because of the tremendous stewardship of the organization. MITA islands are cleaner than unused islands because of the efforts of MITA's volunteer stewards. This entices landowners to make their islands available to the public.
"MITA is not structured to own land. Land trusts are and they're good at managing conservation easements," said MITA Island Steward and Volunteer Skipper Greg Barmoor. "MITA's good at taking care of the islands dong the stewardship work, cleaning them up, monitoring the campsites, recording activity, so it's a natural relationship for a land trust and MITA to work together."