BTLT In the News: “From a ski trail to an outdoor classroom, 10 land trust projects receive LLBean funding”


From a ski trail to an outdoor classroom, 10 land trust projects receive LLBean funding

By Laurie Schreiber

To read the full article online, click here. 

Ten land trusts across Maine are planning new facilities, new programs and other improvements with the help of funding from L.L.Bean Inc.

The company’s Maine Land Trust Grant Program provides awards of up to $10,000, which are distributed by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. This year’s grants will support projects from Saco to Dennysville.

The projects are:

  • $10,000 to Greater Lovell Land Trust to convert a 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.
  • $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 wooden steps in a series of 40 that were in the original plan but couldn’t be completed because of rising material costs.
  • $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.
  • $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.
  • $5,500 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.
  • $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.
  • $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.
  • $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.
  • $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 2-kilometer ski loop at Roberts Farm in Norway.
  • $3,000 to Falmouth Land Trust for improved signage at 10 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 Maine Land Trust Network and $5,000 to sponsor this year’s Maine Land Conservation Conference, an annual gathering of Maine’s land trust community hosted by the network. Other major sponsors of the conference in 2023 included the Nature Conservancy Maine and Norway Savings Bank.

Goals of the trusts include expanding public access to the outdoors for traditional and nontraditional users, and mitigating and adapting to climate change, which in turn is considered key to buffering communities from extreme weather events and natural disasters.

“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 Angela Twitchell, Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s land trust program director.

Established in 1995, the Maine Land Trust Network strengthens the land conservation community by serving as a central hub of information. It brings conservationists together to facilitate relationship building, information exchange, and collaboration.

Additionally, the Network provides a broad array of programs, services, and resources that build the capacity and sustainability of land conservation organizations throughout the state. A program of Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the network is led by a steering committee representing up to 25 member land trusts.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust is a nonprofit land conservation organization with initiatives ranging from preserving coastal access for communities to high impact ecological work focused on reconnecting waterways and improving coastal resiliency to climate change. The trust began on Mount Desert Island in 1970 and continues to serve as the local land trust for the MDI community with over two dozen preserves in the area. The trust maintains a network of almost 150 coastal and island preserves coastwide and leads the 80-member Maine Land Trust Network.

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

To read the full article online, click here.