The Bangor Daily News
for Thursday, July 10, 1997

Appalachian Trail to dip toes in Atlantic at Gaspe

BANGOR - The International Appalachian Trail finally will meet its end: the 300-foot cliffs of Cape Gaspe in Quebec, and the ocean blue.

Departing from its original plan to extend the trail only to Mount Jacques Cartier on the Gaspe Peninsula, the 18-member trail board has moved to build the trail to ocean's edge. ''I think it's important to finish at Cape Gaspe because it's ... it's like the end of the world,'' Viateur DeChamplain, a board member with the Quebec chapter of IAT, said Wednesday from Quebec province. The board voted unanimously last month to expand the trail east from Mount Jacques Cartier for about 150 miles to the cape.

The trail has grown quickly since it was proposed in the spring of 1994 by former Maine Gov. Joseph Brennan. The idea at that time was to connect the highest points of the Appalachian Mountains in Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec, according to Dick Anderson, president of the board's Maine IAT chapter and a lawyer from Portland. ''The philosophy was to use the mountains to connect nations,'' Anderson said. ''You know, a nature-knows-no-boundaries kind of thing.''

Since last summer, about 120 miles of trail have been completed, most notably 80 miles between Fort Fairfield and Plaster Rock, New Brunswick. The project is a low-budget one, Anderson said, with most of the work being done by volunteers. The Maine chapter received a $5,000 federal grant for work on the trail in Maine, he said.

The trail eventually will span almost 600 miles, an addendum to the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail running from Georgia to Mount Katahdin.

Completion of the international trail had been expected by 2000, Anderson said, but he now believes that goal was too ambitious. With the voluntary work force and the need for property easements, he expects 60 percent to 70 percent of the trail will be done by the turn of the century.

The end section of the trail will head directly north from Mount Jacques Cartier to the northern coast of the St. Lawrence River. From there it will closely follow the coastline to Cape Gaspe. DeChamplain estimated the cost of constructing the end section of the trail at $3,000 (Canadian) per kilometer.

Some construction will begin this summer, DeChamplain said. The work will be funded by grants from the Quebec government, which collects fees from companies that use the forests in that region. He expects this final leg of the trail to be completed by 2000.

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