AUGUSTA, Maine — When the pandemic hit, businesses closed, trips were canceled and thousands of people suddenly started experiencing the outdoors more. The Maine Office of Tourism and Office of Outdoor Recreation teamed up to launch a Look Out For Me campaign, offering tips for staying safe, and respecting the land around you.
"The idea was putting together this campaign and creating a tool kit that businesses and organizations and land trusts could use," said Carolann Ouellette, director of the Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation. "Downloadable posters, social media posts, ways to use the logo and incorporate it into the website; so it was really meant to reflect sort of what we know is remarkable about our state and how to protect those assets moving forward."
Ouellette says about 94% of the land used for recreation in Maine is privately owned, so teaching people to respect that land is so important - not only those who are new to hiking or snowshoeing on trails, but also as a refresher for those who've been doing it for years.
"Two of the major components of the campaign are take care of the land and take care of yourself," Ouellette explains. "So sticking to established trails and roads, avoiding peak hours, and knowing where you’re going if there are any rules or restrictions you need to know of." While it's great to get out and try new things, Ouellette reminds people not to 'recreate above their ability' or put themselves in a dangerous situation.
Jenny Kordick, with Maine Outdoor Brands, has also teamed up with the two offices to help get the word out. Part of the campaign explains what gear might be needed for recreation.
"I think the main trick with winter is to bring a lot of layers. The temperature is fluctuating and depending on what type of activity you’re doing, your body temperature is fluctuating as well. So having a lot of layers and a lot of waterproof layers is key," Kordick explains.
"Proper footwear is also really important with snowy and icy conditions; ensuring that you have traction." Ice cleats can also help with that, Kordick says. "The other essential items this winter is a mask, which is great because it doubles as a layer to keep warm, but definitely have a mask handy as you’re out and about and coming in contact with other people."
Kordick recommends stopping into a local outdoor retail store and get more tips for winter activity while you're picking up some new gear, or renting it; places like L.L. Bean, Maine Sport Outfitters, or Portland Gear Hub.
Visit Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for ice fishing spots and tips
Ski Maine for downhill and nordic ski spots
Maine Trail Finder for snowshoe or hiking spots
VisitMaine.com has tips to cover your trips