Unsung Hero: Gary Fogg of Topsham, maintaining trails and forging connections
TOPSHAM — Gary Fogg is a Renaissance man, and he believes that every citizen has a duty to be informed about history, government, religion and science.
He’s a maverick who spent a year between high school and college working minimum-wage jobs and driving a 1967 Volkswagen bug across the U.S. to explore the country, especially its state and national parks. And he’s a superstar volunteer, giving joyfully of his time and talents to causes he believes in.
A constant theme runs throughout Fogg’s life, be it at work or play: his passion for our ethical relation with the land and with each other.
After graduating from Bates College in Lewiston, Fogg served as a land manager and planner in Massachusetts and Maine before starting his own consulting firm, Land & People LLC, in Topsham in 1991. He assisted towns and developers in addressing issues related to land use planning. And true to his collaborative spirit, he would often work alongside other consultants on projects.
While maintaining his consulting practice, Fogg provided his expertise to several committees in Topsham: the Conservation Commission, the Comprehensive Plan Committee, the Planning Board, and the Quality of Life Ordinance Committee, among others.
Fogg shut down his consulting firm in 2009 and began seeking other outlets for his passion. He’d long been a supporter of the Brunswick & Topsham Land Trust, so he asked Angela Twitchell, executive director of the organization, how he could help the trust.
“I told him we could use help overseeing our trail system,” Twitchell said. “We couldn’t afford to hire a trail supervisor, and he has so much experience.”
Fogg did, indeed, possess vast experience – he’d helped maintain trails for the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Vermont Division of Forestry.
As trails supervisor for the trust, Fogg now oversees the work associated with clearing and maintaining 17 miles of trails. In addition to reimbursement for materials, the trust provides the volunteers, many of whom are young people from Bowdoin College, the Apogee Summer Adventure Program, or area schools. Fogg takes it from there.
“It’s so much fun,” he said recently. “I get to exercise in the woods, while working with volunteers from all backgrounds. I love working with the same kind of hand tools that were used in the 19th century; figuring out problems along the way is part of the fun. And I like knowing that other people will benefit from this work. It’s important to give back.”
“Gary’s the man, a dream volunteer,” said Caroline Eliot, associate director of the trust. “He’s so enthusiastic, and he makes everything so much fun. He’s able to engage with young people, and he’s a really good teacher. And he’s incredibly well organized, providing detailed reports about the work that’s been done on the trails.”
Twitchell said she knew the trust was getting a winner in Fogg, because she’d worked with him on the Topsham Conservation Commission.
“Gary has a passion for improving the quality of life of the community," she said. "He’s a collaborator, always respectful of all viewpoints. He’s such a gift."