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Ten Land Trusts Across Maine Receive Funding for Priority Conservation Projects

Ten land trusts from across Maine recently were awarded funding through The L.L.Bean Maine Land Trust Grant Program administered by Maine Coast Heritage Trust. The awards were made possible through the generous support of L.L.Bean and will fund 10 priority conservation projects from Saco to Dennysville.

Since 2004, the L.L.Bean Maine Land Trust Grant Program has provided over $400,000 in grants to nearly 60 land trusts across Maine.

“The entire land trust community is deeply appreciative of this investment in our collective effort to connect more people to Maine’s special places,” said Angela Twitchell, MCHT’s recently appointed Land Trust Program Director. “In the state of Maine, land trusts have protected the majority of conserved land. Our network of 80-plus land trusts is funded largely by private donations and grants,” noted Twitchell.

Projects Address Needs Across Maine

“This year’s projects include a solar-LED-illuminated ski loop trail in the Western Mountains, an outdoor classroom in Dennysville, engaging volunteers from marginalized communities in Sanford, converting a storybook hiking trail to a storybook accessible trail in Lovell, and improving signage at several trailheads in Falmouth. All this work requires focused effort and funding,” said Twitchell.

The wide range of projects speaks to the complex work of Maine’s land trusts and their efforts to strengthen communities while expanding public access to the outdoors for traditional and nontraditional users. Land trusts are also on the front line of Maine’s work to mitigate and adapt to climate change. According to a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, land trusts not only protect, steward, and restore natural landscapes that hold and absorb carbon, they also work to buffer communities from extreme weather events and natural disasters.

Cathance River Education Alliance campers enjoying the bridge at Cathance River Nature Preserve. The bridge will now benefit from a full set of box steps on both sides to make access more manageable for a fuller range of visitors.

“Maine’s land trust community works on everything from conserving land to restoring marshes,

to monitoring water quality, to improving fish passage, to mitigating and adapting to climate change,” said Twitchell.  “We do this largely through the generosity of our supporters.”

Following is a detailed list of the ten projects funded by the 2023 L.L.Bean Maine Land Trust Grant Program. Grant recipients were notified in November and the distribution of funds has already been made so the work can begin.

2023 L.L.Bean Maine Land Trust Grant Awards

  1. $10,000 to Greater Lovell Land Trust to convert an existing 0.25-mile Storybook Trail at the Kezar River Reserve from a conventional hiking trail to an accessible trail, expanding access to the nature programs and ensuring that all people can enjoy the regularly updated storyboard.
  2. $10,000 to Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust to complete a long-awaited trail re-route at the Cathance River Nature Preserve, involving installation of 28 remaining wooden box steps in a series of 40 that were in the original plan but couldn’t be completed because of rising material costs.
  3. $10,000 to Cape Elizabeth Land Trust for the design and planning of a new parking area with accessible spaces at their most popular preserve, Robinson Woods, the first phase of a larger plan to create a universally accessible trail while also addressing traffic concerns.
  4. $7,000 to Somerset Woods Trustees to make public access improvements and increase program opportunities in the Wesserunsett Trails Network, an in-town trail system that provides ready access to the outdoors within easy walking distance of the densely populated eastern neighborhoods of Skowhegan.
  5. $5,500 to Kennebec Land Trust to restore three acres of wild blueberry fields at the Davidson Nature Preserve in Vassalboro, to increase blueberry production and offer public programs, supporting public access to the property.
  6. $5,000 to Downeast Coastal Conservancy to create an outdoor classroom at Dennys River Mill Pond, located within a short walking distance of Edmunds Consolidated School, where students will be engaged in trail design and creation.
  7. $5,000 to Loon Echo Land Trust to replace wooden steps at the Ham Bridge in Pondicherry Park, mainly used by students from the adjacent Stevens Brook Elementary School, with a 60-foot wooden access ramp, and to also upgrade 75 feet of trail.
  8. $5,000 to Three Rivers Land Trust to help provide stewardship capacity support and provide tools and equipment to engage volunteers from marginalized communities to work with them at the Sanford Community Forest.
  9. $4,500 to Western Foothills Land Trust to match funds raised by the community (in honor of a beloved retired ski coach) for a solar-LED-illuminated 2k ski loop at Roberts Farm in Norway.
  10. $3,000 to Falmouth Land Trust for improved signage at ten trailheads that have historically caused confusion, creating a clearer, more welcoming presence for all.

L.L.Bean also provided $5,000 for administrative support of the Maine Land Trust Grant Program and MLTN and $5,000 to sponsor this year’s Maine Land Conservation Conference, an annual gathering of Maine’s land trust community hosted by MLTN. Other major sponsors of the conference in 2023 included The Nature Conservancy Maine and Norway Savings Bank.

“The Maine Land Conservation Conference is the most important gathering of the year for our community,” said Twitchell. “We are deeply grateful for all of the sponsors who help to make this annual event possible.”