2010 RTP Achievement Awards

Award-Winning Trail and Greenway Projects


The members of the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) have selected the winners of the "Annual Achievement Awards" in recognition of outstanding use of Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funds. The award winners were recognized at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. on June 8, 2010 at the U.S. House of Representatives Rayburn House Office Building, during the annual celebration for Great Outdoors Week.

Learn more about the Recreational Trails Program



Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area (Maine)

Multiple-Use Management and Corridor Sharing

photo of log bridge

New bridge construction on the trail system


Nestled in the shadow of Mount Katahdin, just south of Maine’s Baxter State Park, The Nature Conservancy’s Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area (DLWA) is a 46,271-acre ecological reserve that welcomes multiple recreational uses. The Nature Conservancy purchased the DLWA in 2002 as part of the nationally recognized Katahdin Forest Project.

It provides a vital link in nearly 500,000 acres of contiguous conservation land (connecting Baxter State Park, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Maine’s Nahmakanta Reserve, and the Conservancy’s Trout Mountain Preserve). The land encompasses a 15-mile portion of the “Hundred Mile Wilderness” section of the Appalachian Trail adjacent to Baxter State Park.

Debsconeag means “carrying place,” named by native Micmac Indians for the portage sites where birch bark canoes were carried around rapids and waterfalls. The DLWA contains the highest concentration of pristine, remote ponds in New England. It holds thousands of acres of mature forests, some of which have not been harvested in 70 to 100 years, or even more. These lands have a long history and great variety of recreational uses and today hiking, camping, canoeing, hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling on authorized trails are all welcome on this preserve.


photo of earth moving equipment

Crew working at Debsconeag Lakes


Prior to the Conservancy’s ownership, the DLWA included dozens of miles of established traditional foot trails that were etched in place decades or even centuries ago. These trails were often made by the feet of thousands of individuals – but with little benefit of modern trail planning and construction techniques. As a result, trails tended to proceed in a straight line to the destination of interest (often straight up steep slopes or through wet ground) with little accommodation for environmental protection or the comfort of the hiker.

Out of necessity, snowmobile trails proceeded through boulder fields and grooming was difficult, restricting the length of the sledding season. The Recreational Trails Program has made it possible to improve the existing trail system and even add a new trail to the previously inaccessible but popular “Ice Caves,” which allow hikers to descend and find remnants of winter well into the summer.

Contact: Bill Patterson, The Nature Conservancy in Maine, 14 Maine Street, Suite 401, Brunswick, ME 04011. Phone: 207-373-5209


photo of snowmobiles

snowmobile trails at the Debsconeag Lakes site



Coalition for Recreational Trails:

The Coalition for Recreational Trails, a national organization representing the nation's major trail interests, has been working since 1992 to build awareness and understanding of the Recreational Trails Program, to support its implementation and to help insure that it receives adequate funding. The Annual Achievement Awards are part of the Coalition's ongoing effort to promote and celebrate this highly successful program, which has greatly enhanced the quantity and quality of trail experiences available to the public.

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is an assistance program of the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). See the FHWA website for more information. Federal transportation funds benefit recreation by making funds available to the States to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both nonmotorized and motorized recreational trail uses. The RTP funds come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund, and represent a portion of the motor fuel excise tax collected from nonhighway recreational fuel use: fuel used for off-highway recreation by snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, and off-highway light trucks.

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