A casual passerby might consider the village of Elgin, located along the picturesque Pollett River, to be a sleepy little hamlet. But they would be wrong. “This isolated community is vibrant and full of life,” says Moranda van Geest.
Moranda heads up the Elgin Eco Association (EEA), a dedicated group that has accomplished much in this small rural area, including building a community garden, installing ‘little libraries’, organizing community events and children’s programs, conducting interpretive hikes, organizing the challenging Tour of Elgin mountain bike race…all centred around, or supporting, their crowning achievement: The Mapleton Acadian Forest Trail.
The trail brought hikers and snowshoers, birdwatchers and geo-cachers into the community. Young and old alike enjoyed the trail’s delights: 121 species of plants, 60 species of moss and 41 species of birds have been identified on the property. This forest of hemlocks, spruce, birch and beech is a true Acadian Forest…a natural mix of soft and hard wood that is becoming an increasingly rare treasure.
All was well until the property was sold to a private business interest and slated for clearcutting.
Elgin itself – traditionally a favourite destination for viewing brilliant autumn colours - has seen thousands of hectares of forestland skinned and cleared during recent years.
Heartbroken to see spectacular stands of maple trees chipped for paper products, and helpless to stop the destruction of wildlife habitat around them, the EEA knew they had to take concrete steps to protect this valuable piece of their community from destruction.
There was only one way to stop it…and that was to buy it.
The group mounted several community fundraisers and an online fundraising campaign.
“This was no easy task,” says Moranda. “It takes a lot of time and effort from many volunteers to bring this campaign to the forefront. The Elgin Eco Association is succeeding. We are getting closer to our goal. The campaign, “Save the Mapleton Acadian Trail,” has brought the vast and ongoing clearcutting into the limelight, and people believe that by donating to this cause, another piece of land will be saved from clearcut and preserved for future generations.”
“We have currently reached $47,000. With the amount closing in we hope to soon make our down payment to secure the property.
"We are so grateful to the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund for their contribution of $10,000. And we thank Craig Norris of Videoband for his donation of his movie, “Surviving the Fundy Footpath,” which raised $2,800. As well, we thank the Maritime Motorsport Hall of Fame for donating their facilities and helping promote the screening.
"Just a little bit further to go. It is through the commitment of people, and the hard work done behind the scene by so many, that we are able to make this dream a reality."
Moranda says their success so far would not be possible without the hard work of community volunteers, those who donated items for a silent auction, and the many who gave personal donations. It has truly been a grassroots community endeavour.
The work is not over yet, but their goal of $75,000 is in sight, proving that a small group of people, fired by optimism and purpose, can indeed work miracles. You, too, can be part of the success. Every step each one of us takes towards conservation and preservation of our precious forest makes a difference.
This will be a gift from all of you for the future.
If you want to be part of this very worthwhile cause – or learn more - contact Moranda direct (506-756-2518), or donate online at Chuffed.org.
Facebook: Mapleton Acadian Trail