The Androscoggin Land Trust’s Androscoggin Greenway planning initiative in Lewiston-Auburn, seeking to connect parks and trails along the Androscoggin River to each other and downtown neighborhoods and business districts, has been selected as the site for Maine’s first place-based Health Impact Assessment.
The Maine Health Impact Assessment Initiative (MeHI) has been awarded a grant to grow capacity in Maine for the performance of Health Impact Assessments (HIA). HIA has been called “a combination of procedures, methods, and tools by which a policy, program, or project may be judged as to its potential effects on the health of a population, and the distribution of those effects within the population” (1999 Gothenburg consensus statement).
MeHI will achieve its grant objective by using the performance of an HIA as a training opportunity. Planners interested in the health impacts of proposed plans, Healthy Maine Partnerships and other parties interested in applying a health lens to proposed projects throughout the state attended a kick-off session next May 30 at Auburn Hall.
In 2011, ALT secured grant funding from the Environmental Funders Network’s Quality of Place Initiative to expand on the planning for an Androscoggin Greenway, a continuous land and water based trail network through Lewiston and Auburn that would link to the Androscoggin Riverlands State Park to the north and eventually south to Lisbon and Brunswick. With support from both cities and the National Park Service, ALT has hired Wright-Pierce, an engineering consulting firm, to complete the technical components of this planning.
“National and state funders have taken an interest in the growing potential of the Androscoggin River to support economic growth and improve quality of life for residents,” states ALT Director Jonathan LaBonte. “Now, to have this planning project catch the attention of state-level public health planners brings a new, yet important angle to this effort and could better position the community for implementation efforts once the study is complete.”
ALT plans to complete its engineering study of trail segments in Lewiston-Auburn within the next month and will host a public meeting to discuss recommendations on trail segments and priorities identified following the initial public meeting. The process is expected to conclude late summer, after including recommendations from the HIA and workshops with both Lewiston and Auburn officials.
The Androscoggin Land Trust is dedicated to protecting, through land conservation and stewardship, important natural areas, traditional landscapes and outdoor experiences in the Androscoggin River watershed. ALT offers recreational programs in the region include LA Trails, serving Lewiston-Auburn, Chisholm Trails, serving Jay and Livermore Falls, and the Great Falls Paddling Society, offering seasonal outings on the Androscoggin River.