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Maine Huts and Trails faces possible closure and reorganization

The world-class trail and lodge system lacks a large endowment and membership

CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — Maine Huts and Trails is highly regarded as an outdoor destination. It features four huts and eighty miles of trail, fifty of which is groomed in the winter.

However, the model on which this system was built cannot sustain it and new Executive Director Wolfe Tone says his group is considering closing all the huts for the winter.

"We are coming out to our community and saying you have a chance to plug in," says Tone.  He adds that some in the outdoor community have come forward to offer help since learning of the organization's financial difficulties.

"Our history has amazing individuals in it," he notes.  "Some of those individuals have passed away. There are individuals that that we approached the approached, the response was 'I love you, it was a great experience, but I moved on with my philanthropy.'"

Tone hopes to build a funding mechanism that is like "nesting dolls." It will include municipal, county, state and federal funding as well as grants from foundations and area businesses. 

There was some thought that the money offered by Central Maine Power to build the New England Clean Energy Connect power corridor might be used to help fund recreation interests like Maine Huts and Trails.

Larry Warren, who founded Huts is also a director of Western Mountains and Rivers Corporation. It created a memo of understanding with CMP and also attempted to raise support among recreation and outdoor interests in the project.

However, Tone says his organization has taken no stand on the project as his membership has people on all sides of the question.

He is hopeful that enough building blocks will be in place that Huts can open for the winter and that the organization can reboot itself.

"On the one had, this story is about lights out doors closed," he told NEWS CENTER Maine. "There's so much more at stake. We can and will get it back and when we do this we can take it to another level."

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