Three Rivers Land Trust
During the year the Board of Directors met at least once each month. Committees met as needed. In May, an Executive Committee was formed to handle minor business in order to focus and streamline board meetings; this committee also meets monthly. In the fall, the Land Trust moved to a new office space at the Beehive in Alfred, which provides meeting, office, and file storage space.
Board members continue to be very active in running this mostly-volunteer organization. Several educational conferences, seminars, and webinars were attended by various board members throughout the year.
Ruth Gutman, previously our contracted membership coordinator, was hired as Development Director, to assist the board with both traditional and social media outreach, fundraising, membership development, and event planning, in addition to maintaining the membership database and website. By the end of 2014, our membership had reached 165, up from 141 in 2013.
A printed newsletter was distributed twice; an e-newsletter was sent monthly; the Facebook page and
website were regularly updated; and we had a presence at several community festivals and association meetings to promote interest in conservation and solicit new members. We are especially proud of our popular wild animal cutout, allowing visitors to pose as a moose, bear, or squirrel; this has greatly
increased our visibility and spirit of fun at events. New trail maps were printed and are available for sale at several local businesses.
In fee purchase of the Sousa Preserve was completed in January, ensuring conservation of this 210-acre
parcel of high-value forest and vernal pools in the Walnut Hill region of Alfred. The purchase was funded by the Maine Natural Resources Conservation Services Program (MNRCP). In the fall, another MNRCP application was submitted, and grant awarded to purchase the Berube property, a parcel abutting the Sousa Preserve. This will provide a conservation buffer, significantly enhance the Blanding’s turtle habitat in the Preserve, and give road access for a parking area and trailhead to lead into the Preserve.
A feasibility study was conducted to assess the potential of a large-scale conservation effort in Acton and Shapleigh, covering six parcels and over 2100 acres stretching from Goat Hill to Shapleigh Farm.
Enhancements were made to some of our current properties. A trail system was designed and constructed at Hobbs Farm in Acton, largely with the help of volunteer missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints. A sustainable forestry operation was conducted at the Walnut Hill property in Shapleigh, as required by the management plan, in order to enhance forest health. Preparations were made for a sustainable harvest to also be conducted at Hobbs Farm in 2015, to be done by forestry students at the MapleStone School.
All 2014 easement stewardship visits were completed and documented. One easement property, Red Wing Farm in Lebanon, was leased to organic vegetable and chicken farmers at Two Toad Farm. We are glad to see this property’s long farming tradition revitalized.
Three Rivers hosted, co-sponsored, or significantly participated in many public events throughout the year, including two Great Maine Outdoor Weekend events at Hobbs Farm; a succession workshop; an easement
workshop; the annual meeting with guest Kelly Tarbox speaking on landscaping with native plants; a Mousam Valley Mushroom presentation on their local mushroom growing operation; nature education for kids at the Lebanon Town summer camp; Farm Trail Walk on Open Farm Day; the annual dinner with a presentation by MNAP biologist Kristen Puryear; and monthly First Friday Forays (which have since been changed to Second Saturday Saunters), including a very well-attended vernal pool walk to the Sousa Preserve with IF&W biologists Derek York and Brad Zitske who introduced us to some live Blanding’s turtles.
A new strategic plan was drafted, in conjunction with a board retreat held in October. Among other things, the retreat and plan resulted in a restructuring and strengthening of the sub-committees. Significant progress was made toward application for accreditation; the complete application will be submitted in the fall of 2015. The Land Trust continued our membership and participation in the Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative, making significant use of the advisory services of Jess Burton.