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Reopened Carson Trail lets bottled-up Mainers escape into nature

The guest list for the reopening ceremony ranged from local hikers to the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

WELLS, Maine — After spending so much time at home over the past few months, hikers are taking in the views at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge with fresh and grateful eyes.

Those views are once again accessible via the Carson Trail in Wells. Its reopening ceremony on Friday, June 19, drew a distinguished roster of guests including Sen. Susan Collins and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith.

The trail had been closed since April 29 to protect hikers from the coronavirus. In deciding to reopen the trail, its caretakers stressed the importance of staying connected to nature while still observing recommended safety measures.

Bill Durkin, president of the Friends of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, said in praise of the trail, "It's a neat boardwalk, very accessible, with the marshland and estuaries. You can look out the open ocean. So, it's a pretty special place."

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Lots of people agree with Durkin's assessment. The wildlife refuge welcomes about 278,000 visitors on average each year.

The Carson Trail is a small part of the 50-mile stretch of coastline that comprises the wildlife refuge. The protected lands extend from Kittery to Cape Elizabeth in 11 divisions.

The woman for whom the refuge is named is credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Rachel Carson was a marine biologist and keen observer of nature. She distilled her ideas about conservation into the book "Silent Spring" which continues to inspire readers to be better stewards of the planet.