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Collaboration puts 'rangers' to work in Falmouth woods

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Collaboration puts 'rangers' to work in Falmouth woods

FALMOUTH — The Falmouth Land Trust has hired two summer interns to lead walks and maintain the town's nearly 40 miles of conserved trails.

Maggie Parrish, a sophomore biology major at Colby College, and Tim Follo, a freshman at Yale University planning to study computer science, started their work as "rangers" in late June and will continue through Aug. 9.

The pair are leading two guided walks per week, repairing trails and participating in summer programming with elementary and middle school students.

Both Parrish and Follo are Falmouth natives.

"The idea of spending the summer outside sounded fabulous," said Parrish, who grew up on the Suckfish property, now home to some of Falmouth's trails. "It'll be great to be able to contribute."

While Parrish's studies in college easily are lent to the the type of work she will be doing this summer, Follo said his interest in the internship came through experience using the trails and interacting with the land trust in high school.

"There's been a massive growth in visibilty of the land trust," he said. "I've loved using the properties. ... There's a wonderful symbiotic relationship between the town and the land trust and I wanted to be part of the process."

Much of the trail maintenance will involve clearing debris from pathways, laying paving stones to make the trails easier to walk, and erecting directional signs.

In addition to their trail work and guided walks, which are on Wednesday afternoons and Friday mornings at different locations each week, the pair will teach students attending summer camps how to use GPS devices through the popular hobby known as geocaching.

Geocaching is essentially a treasure-hunting game that uses a GPS to find hidden items.

The two ranger positions are made possible by a $4,000 grant from Bangor Savings Bank, which also supported the land trust in 2012 with a grant to improve its website.

"It's kind of the ideal collaboration," said Amy Keating, vice president of consumer banking at Bangor Savings. "We're helping school kids, the community and doing land and trail work."

Jed Harris, president of the land trust board of trustees, said the rangers will help raise the trust's profile and highlight the town's land preservation efforts.

"People are moving to Falmouth because of the open space," he said, noting that about 20 percent of the town is now designated as conserved open space. "That's pretty dramatic for a town this size, especially being so close to Portland."

Analiese Larson, the trust's executive director and chairwoman of the Falmouth School Board, said the collaboration between the trust, the bank and the town government has made Falmouth one of the premier places for open space in Maine.

"We are thrilled to have the support of Bangor Savings Bank and two talented individuals," she said. "Now we hope the town comes out to help conserve, explore and enjoy."

For more information about the walks and summer programming, go to falmouthlandtrust.org.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.