A Collective Approach

We work with our partners to implement and test a framework that supports communities in creating a brighter, healthier future from within. This framework seeks to accomplish specific goals in four key areas: leadership, resources, infrastructure, and programming.




A commitment to mutually supportive activities, and open channels of communication


A systematic approach to developing leadership, infrastructure, resources, and programming for outdoor sport


Bringing together a diverse cross-section of community stakeholders, aligning their common vision and goals


Utilizing shared measurement systems







The town of Millinocket is unique on many levels. Recognized as a gateway to some of Maine’s most iconic wilderness, Millinocket was once a thriving mill town. In recent years, however, the town has been in economic decline since the mill closed. Thousands lost their jobs and many of the town’s buildings and services were shuttered.

Literally built by the Great Northern Paper Company, Millinocket was a thriving community for the better part of a century, where good jobs were available right out of high school, per capita incomes were some of the highest in the state, and the community could support good schools, a hospital, library, and vibrant downtown. As in countless Northern Forest communities, however, the paper mills that once employed thousands are gone. In the Katahdin region, Great Northern Paper in Millinocket closed in 2008; the mill in East Millinocket was shuttered in 2014.


1990: 6,956
2015: 4,355
Population change: -37.4% 

Median resident age
51.3 years; 14% older than Maine’s median age 

Median household income
2016: $30,861; 38.5% lower than the state

Median home value 2016: 
$63,698; 63% lower than the state 

Source: northernforest.org



As the community looked to reinvent itself and blaze a new path forward, a group of community members in Millinocket saw an opportunity to redefine their hometown by engaging locals with the vast outdoor opportunities at their doorstep. This began, in part, with the passionate vision of the local library director and has evolved into a community team representing a variety of community sectors.

With proximity to Baxter State Park, the newly formed Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, countless pristine rivers and lakes, abundant wildlife and hundreds of miles of multi-use trails, the Community Team is seeking to capitalize on the benefits of hiking, biking, paddling, skiing, and snowshoeing in their own backyard.





Skowhegan is the seat of Somerset County, a beautiful, rural region that brims with potential but struggles with poverty and poor-health rates above state and national averages.


  • In a recent Community Health Needs Assessment, Somerset ranked 15th out of 16 counties in health outcomes and dead last for quality of life.

  • Obesity rates have been rising among all age groups in Somerset County. As of 2016, more than a third (36.5%) of adults, nearly a fifth (18%) of high school students, and almost a quarter (22.7%) of middle schoolers are obese.

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of Somerset County adults lead a sedentary lifestyle, with no leisure-time physical activity in the past month.

  • According to the most recent data, nearly a fifth of the county population is in poverty—including one quarter of all Somerset County children.

  • In 2016 local paper mill Sappi—which represents 40 percent of Skowhegan’s tax base—was devalued by $64 million, resulting in a loss of $1.2 million in tax revenue. The recent closures of Madison Paper and other mills around the state underscore how critical it is that the local economy diversify.

    source: runofriver.org



Under the leadership of Main St. Skowhegan, a stakeholder group has emerged to form a team committed to strengthening the connection between the community and the outdoor assets at their fingertips.