Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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SEARCH and RESCUE MARKING and MAPPING

On average there are about five rescue calls made from the trails in the Mount Agamenticus Region annually. These calls are typically from either injured or lost persons using the area. Often different user groups utilize different names for the same landmarks, names of the ponds/reservoirs are often used interchangeably and trails, with the exception of trails on Mount Agamenticus itself, were unmarked. In addition most rescue personnel didn’t have a good understanding of the trail system making for very confusing, time consuming and challenging rescues. Late in 2008 after responding to an unusually high number of rescue calls that summer the Mount Agamenticus Conservation Coordinator, York Water District and Kittery Water District initiated a Search and Rescue (S&R) Trail Marking and Mapping Project to improve and standardize knowledge of the area and reduce emergency response times.

During the first few months of 2009 the group invited area public safety and GIS professionals to monthly meetings. The goal of these meetings was to create a comprehensive Search and Rescue Marking and Mapping plan, maintaining consistency through all the properties that would be simple, economical, user friendly. The group would create the plan but it was up to each land owner to fund and complete the project on their property. The organizations involved included Mt. Agamenticus, Kittery Water District, York Water District, South Berwick Fire Department, South Berwick Police Department, York Beach Fire Department, York Village Fire Department, York Police Department, The Maine Wardens Service, Town of York GIS Department and The Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge GIS DepartmentAs a result of these meetings the group agreed to create a large scale S&R map that would be available to S&R personnel but not to the general public. The map would include the outlying public roads, all trails in the region, landmarks such as cemetery’s, old cellar holes or foundations and major stream crossings to name a few. The group decided that color coding main trails would be the easiest system and that each land owner would choose what they want to be considered “Main Trails” and mark only those.

It was also decided that colored trail markers would be given a shape indicating the property location. Kittery Water District(KWD) chose six inch circles; York Water District (YWD) chose six inch diamonds and Mt. A. chose six inch rectangles. The land owners decided that routered wooden signs on wooden posts would blend best with the surroundings. The posts and signs would be installed at all main trail intersections and trail heads. Signs list the property on which they reside, the trail color, and the distance to the next main trail intersection in each direction. Posts are numbered in a clockwise rotation beginning with the YWD Mountain Road Gate and continuing through YWD, KWD and Mt. A properties. Post numbers are located at the top of the posts, the colored trail markers are on the posts below the signs. Finally, also located below the signs are GPS tags giving the three most commonly used GPS coordinate systems for that location.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There are privately owned undeveloped tracts of land mixed in among the conservation land. These land owners have allowed us to mark trails that cross their private property. Please give these land owners the same respect we ask of you. These areas are marked with signs that read:
PRIVATE PROPERTY PROCEED WITH RESPECT”.


With the exception of the GPS tags, the project was completed in the fall of 2010. Since the installation of the signs and posts the Watershed Patrol Officer has been explaining how to use the signs and asking the recreational users about their thoughts on the project. By most accounts this project appears to be a welcome addition and users understand the need.

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Click here to learn more about our
Search and Rescue signs.
York Water District 86 Woodbridge Road PO Box 447 York Maine 03909 207-363-2265