Three Rivers Land Trust
2019 was an important year of growth for Three Rivers Land Trust – we were thrilled to welcome our first Executive Director, Cheri Brunault, in March. She comes to us with experience in conservation, stewardship and leadership, and an abundance of enthusiasm for the joys and challenges of leading a small land trust. She’s working with Development Director Ruth Gutman and our still-very-active volunteer Board of Directors to pursue our mission of building stronger and healthier communities through the conservation of wild and working landscapes.
In October, we acquired a Conservation Easement on Upland Farm in Shapleigh, with the support of Maine Farmland Trust. Owner David Mann writes “My parents, like many of their peers, after working as farmers all their lives, funded their retirement by selling house lots. They sold three house lots and a subsequent owner carved two more lots out of his original one lot for a total of five lots. In the middle of the twentieth century, there were just six farmsteads along this nearly three-mile length of Hooper Road and now there are 59 homes.” We are so glad this picturesque, historic 133-acre farm is now protected for Maine’s future farmers.
In 2018 we made the very difficult decision to sell the Gruber House, which we inherited from long-time and founding board member Charles Gruber. The sale of the farmhouse and barn was completed in March. The board decided to retain the 53 acres of surrounding forest with pond and river frontage, to be permanent public land, called the Gruber Forest. We’re so proud to steward Charles’ generosity and legacy of conservation.
The Land Trust continued regular operations throughout the year. In 2019, the full Board of Directors and the Executive Committee each met monthly. Several educational conferences, seminars, and webinars were attended by various board members throughout the year. All 2019 easement stewardship visits were completed and documented. 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. We ended the year with 231 members.
Our many 2019 events included: Winter Great Maine Outdoor Weekend at the River House in Alfred, with hot soup, crafts, and a winter tree ID walk; Earth Day clean up at Salmon Falls followed later in the year by a volunteer work party to re-blaze the trail; our annual meeting in May; Alfred 5th graders school spring program & scavenger hunt at Shaker Woods, followed by another program in the fall; Reduce Reuse and Recycle program at the Lebanon Summer Camp; our fifth annual Farm Breakfast to kick off the Springvale Farm Walk in July; Find My Feet animal tracks activity at Moose Mountain’s Woods Water Wildlife Festival; paddle at Hansen Pond with Laurie Callahan of the York County Invasive Aquatic Species Project; and a fall Great Maine Outdoor Weekend flying kites at Romac Orchard.
In the summer, we formed a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice committee, to affirm our commitment to these principles and explore how we can fulfill them in our work. The board and staff participated in a book club discussion, and read and watched several educational articles and videos. Our learning journey continues, as we examine historic and current racism within the land conservation and outdoor recreation communities, and explore our organization’s role in dismantling white supremacy.
Community partnerships remain an important part of our work. The students at the Maple Stone School did a tremendous amount of work on the Sousa Preserve Trail in Alfred and the Goat Hill Trail in Acton. In the spring and fall, we visited the Alfred Elementary School to conduct in-class educational programs with the 5th grade. In the spring, we followed it up with a field trip and scavenger hunt at Shaker Woods. We hope to make these programs a semi-annual tradition for Alfred fifth-graders, possibly expanding to other towns in the future.