Three Rivers Land Trust
The highlight of 2017 was the protection of Goat Hill and the Romac Orchard. We completed this fundraising effort – our first capital campaign – with support from Maine Farmland Trust, the Town of Acton, Maine Community Foundation, local lake associations and private donors. The scenic hilltop is now a Town Park, and the orchard fields and forest have been divided into two farms, both protected by conservation easements and now owned by new farmers.
The Land Trust completed several smaller projects throughout the year, as well. In October, we accepted a conservation easement on the Gutman Farm in Lebanon, funded by Maine Farmland Trust. In late fall, we completed a wetland restoration project at Sousa B in Alfred, funded by the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program (MNRCP). We acted as fiscal agents for a pilot project led by the Acton and Lebanon Conservation Commissions and funded by the Southern Maine Regional Planning and Development Commission (SMPDC), to explore opening the discontinued “Hebo Hybo Road” for public recreation. They researched rights-of-way and conducted landowner outreach, in hopes of eventually turning the old road into a public trail.
Looking toward future projects, we applied for and were awarded two more MNRCP grants – one for the purchase of Walnut Hill IV in Alfred, which abuts the existing Sousa Preserve and contains numerous wetlands, and the other to purchase the 270-acre Hansen Pond property in Acton. The latter parcel includes frontage on Hansen Pond and the Little Ossipee River and will continue our Goat Hill to Shapleigh Pond large-scale conservation effort. We hope to complete both purchases in 2018, and soon after begin trail development to make both properties accessible for outdoor recreation.
Early in 2017, the Land Trust received an inheritance from beloved long-time board member Charles Gruber. He passed away in 2016, and left his Shapleigh home to Three Rivers; the property includes an old farmhouse, barn, garden, and about 50 acres of forest with pond and river frontage. We currently have a committee of Shapleigh residents maintaining the buildings and researching options for the property’s future.
The Land Trust continued regular operations throughout the year. We are now fully moved in to our new location at the River House in Alfred, generously donated by Donna Jacobsen. Renovations on the house continue as we settle in. In 2017, 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. All 2017 easement stewardship visits were completed and documented.
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. A printed newsletter was distributed once; several e-newsletters were sent; 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.
Our many 2017 events included: two annual Great Maine Outdoor Weekend events (winter fun activities at the River House in February and kite-flying at Hobbs Farm in September); our annual meeting in May; our third annual local food breakfast to kick off the Springvale Farm Walk in July; a celebration at the new Goat Hill Town Park in August; a Members’ Potluck in November; an outdoor educational program on invasive plants for kids at the Lebanon Summer Camp; and several public walks on Goat Hill and at many of our protected properties.