Three Rivers Land Trust
2016 was an exciting year of growth for Three Rivers Land Trust! In the summer, we kicked off our largest fundraising effort to date, with a capital campaign to save Romac Orchards in Acton. The aim is to preserve the scenic hilltop, “Goat Hill,” as a town park, and to protect the remaining 240 acres of farm and forest with a conservation easement. As of December, we had been awarded grants, attained pledges of financial support from the Town of Acton and Maine Farmland Trust, and accepted donations from local individuals, foundations and lake associations. We submitted an application to the Land and Water Conservation Fund for a grant that would nearly complete fundraising. In addition to fundraising, immense effort has gone toward creating partnerships to achieve this project, and the due diligence of legal work, surveys, appraisals and more. We look forward to successful completion of the project by summer 2017.
In August, the Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded the Trust with the Accreditation Seal, recognizing our successful completion of the rigorous application process, wherein we demonstrated that we “meet national standards for excellence, uphold the public trust and ensure that conservation efforts are permanent.”
In October, we accepted Donna Jacobsen’s generous gift of a house, to be used as office space. Named “The River House,” it sits on the corner of Swett’s Bridge and Kennebunk Roads in Alfred. In December, we began renovation work on the house, with the hope of moving in by summer 2017.
In addition to all this exciting news, we managed to continue with the Trust’s regular operations as well. During the year, the full Board of Directors and the Executive Committee each met monthly. 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.
Development Director Ruth Gutman continued to take the lead on 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 2016, our membership had reached 202, a new record for us. A printed newsletter was distributed once; 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. Board member Chris Hull began writing regular blog posts to further promote our events and activities.
Our many 2016 events included: two annual Great Maine Outdoor Weekend events at Hobbs Farm (winter fun activities in February and kite-flying in September); our annual meeting in May, featuring a photo exhibit and talk by Maine Farmland Trust; a second annual local food breakfast to kick off the Sanford Open Farm Day Trail Walk; a Members’ Picnic at Goat Hill in October (in lieu of our traditional Members’ Dinner); an outdoor educational program on native trees and wildlife for kids at the Lebanon Summer Camp; a Traditional Skills Exhibition at Hobbs Farm as part of Take to the Woods October; and several public walks on Goat Hill and at many of our protected properties.
All 2016 easement stewardship visits were completed and documented. A thinning harvest was completed at Hobbs Farm by forestry students from the Maple Stone School. At Sousa B, a turtle nesting ground was built with funds from Maine Dept. IF&W; and an MNRCP grant was awarded to fund wetland restoration work which will be done in 2017, in conjunction with construction of a small bridge and access trail to the Sousa Family Preserve. We have a lot of work ahead for the next year!