Strengthening Local Communities

Apart from welcoming visitors to public preserves, Maine land trusts serve communities in many other ways.

Here are just a few examples from around the state:

Partnering with Local Schools

Phippsburg Land Trust partnered with its local elementary school to develop an outdoor classroom and an integrated arbor education. Every third-grade student in the school adopts an outdoor classroom tree and then researches the tree throughout the year to learn about plant reproduction, animals that rely upon it, how decomposers work, and more.

Kennebec Land Trust hosts the Curtis Homestead Forestry Education program each year, where 150 students from Buckfield, Monmouth, and Leeds learn about sustainable forestry, wildlife, and local history.

Kennebunkport Conservation Trust’s “Trust in Our Children” initiative includes field trips for elementary school grades, engaging projects for middle school students, and an evolving partnership with the high school’s alternative education program to provide hands-on learning opportunities to reach students struggling in the traditional classroom setting.

Western Foothills Land Trust’s (WFLT) partners with SAD 17 in Oxford Hills in many different ways, including an after school Nordic ski program, an outdoor classroom, and experiential learning opportunities. Each year, WFLT hosts up to 40 middle school students for a summer school program at their Robert’s Farm Preserve in Norway. Last year, the program enjoyed 95% attendance rates and more than 30% of the kids saw their reading levels improve.

More than 30,000 students participate in land trust-sponsored education programs in Maine each year, like these young hikers exploring Freeport Conservation Trust’s Quarry Woods Preserve.

Maintaining Municipal Parks and State Lands

Royal River Conservation Trust (RRCT) has supported trail and boat ramp construction on municipal parks in Durham, New Gloucester, Yarmouth, and North Yarmouth. RRCT also works with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands to benefit Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal.

In addition to taking care of 13 miles of trails on their own properties, the Orono Land Trust looks after more than 10 miles on town-owned lands.

Damariscotta River Association maintains trails on municipal properties in Edgecomb and South Bristol, co-manages Maine BPL’s Dodge Point Public Reserve and Whaleback Shell Midden Historic Site, and partners with the MDIFW on the maintenance of the Sherman Marsh Wildlife Management Area.

The Bureau of Parks and Land’s 500-acre Dodge Point Public Reserve in Newcastle includes 3 beaches, 4 miles of trails and a dock – all maintained with support from the Damariscotta River Association.

Improving Water Quality

Kennebec Estuary Land Trust replaced a fish ladder at the Nequasset Dam in Woolwich and upgraded a culvert at Sewall Pond in Arrowsic. These projects were part of a larger collaborative effort with the Sheepscot River Watershed Council and the Kennebec Valley Soil & Water Conservation District to survey fish passage barriers and wetland restoration.

Midcoast Conservancy’s Youth Conservation Corps works with private landowners to implement best management practices to prevent erosion and run-off into the Damariscotta Lake and Sheepscot River watersheds. The Corps provides no cost labor to landowners, protecting the region’s water quality critical to downstream commercial fishing and aquaculture businesses.

Hosting Guided Walks

Each year, York Land Trust leads guided walks for seniors and for community members battling diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer.

Scarborough Land Trust partners with Piper Shores, a retirement community in town, by leading guided walks for their elderly residents.

Annually, there are an estimated 65,000 attendees at land trust events in Maine, activities such as this Bangor Land Trust guided walk.

Feeding the Community

Maine Coast Heritage Trust donated more than 25,000 pounds of produce to Good Shepherd Food Bank and local food pantries in 2016. The produce was grown by Teen Ag Crew, a social entrepreneurial program employing students, 14 to 18 years old, in a full-time summer job where they learn the essentials of business planning, marketing, growing, harvesting, packaging, and delivering fresh produce.

Connecting with Nature

Androscoggin Land Trust (ALT) partners with Tree Street Youth, a program serving young people from socio-economically challenged communities in Lewiston-Auburn. Together they sponsor “Learn to Fish” events, a day on the Androscoggin River where many cast a line for the first time and share in the excitement of landing their first catch.

Blue Hill Heritage Trust collaborates with Cynthia Winings Gallery to sponsor the “Open Air Arts Initiative,” an effort to ignite creativity in the young people who live on the Blue Hill Peninsula. Students from Pre-K through 12th Grade visit land trust properties, create something that expresses their inspiration, and display their work at an art show the next year.

Greater Lovell Land Trust hosts a 6-week program for the Lovell Recreational Department called “Nature Day” for up to 50 elementary-school aged children each year.

In July 2017, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) surveyed members of the Maine Land Trust Network, which includes most of the State’s land trust community. 70 organizations participated. Data from a 2015 MCHT land trust census was used to fill in gaps for those organizations that did not complete the survey.

Read the full report (4 MB PDF)

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