Tess Beem ’13 is making maps for the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust to help bolster it’s campaign to build a 14-mile walking and biking trail from Brunswick to Bath. This trail segment is part of a grander state vision to create a 40-mile “capital-to-coast trail” linking Augusta and Brunswick.
“[The land trust was] seeking an environmental studies major with GIS and cartography skills [to make the maps],” Beem said. “It seemed like a good application of the education I’ve gotten so far.” Beem is an environmental studies and biology major.
For her independent study, Beem has been working on a series of maps the land trust can bring to town meetings and civic boards to explain the project to locals and help garner support and funding for the project. Her maps will include an analysis of the trail and how it links up to other nearby paths and conservation land.
The maps will focus on both the connections between Brunswick, West Bath and Bath and the possibilities for the public space the trail will open up within the towns. Beem says she’s evaluating how one trail can cater to the needs and constraints of three distinct and unique municipalities. “I have to cater to specific municipalities,” Beem explained. Some issues in Bath, such as mitigating traffic congestion, will be of less concern in West Bath, which is more rural. “In West Bath, it’s more important to have a recreational and safe space where families can go and get their bike ride in.”
Although Beem said at times the project can be frustrating because the trail could be years in the making, she takes satisfaction in her work. “It feels like I’m making a bigger contribution than I do in my academic classes,” she said. “I feel like I’m doing something of significance.”
Read more about other students’ community-based honors projects and independent studies at Bowdoin.