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Maine's Land Trusts
What Is a Land Trust?
Have you ever experienced the outdoors in such a way that it left you hoping for its care and preservation for generations to come? In Maine, such opportunities are available through land trusts—organizations that work with willing landowners to open private lands to the public to conserve land, protect wildlife, provide outdoor recreation opportunities and more. Land trusts ensure that properties are responsibly managed to the highest standards, with an emphasis on furthering public goals such as improved water quality, sustainable forests, healthy ecosystems, productive farmlands and welcoming nature trails. With over 80 land trusts serving lands all over Maine from the coast to the mountains, there are a variety of opportunities in Maine to experience nature in its purest form.
With thousands of acres of wilderness preserved by land trusts, your next adventure in nature is waiting to be discovered, no matter the time of year. As there are numerous land trusts across the state, we couldn’t possibly describe them all, but here’s a taste of what is made possible by these dedicated organizations:
- The Western Foothills Land Trust has installed outdoor sculptures by Bernard Langlais along the trails of the Roberts Farm Preserve, adding a little culture to your outing. (Whether you’re in hiking boots, cross country skis or snowshoes!)
- The Rangeley Heritage Trust beautifully maintains the Rangeley Lakes region to allow for those pristine paddling and hiking views, including 50 miles of lake and river frontage, 15 islands and the awe-inspiring Bald Mountain.
- The Androscoggin Land Trust owns and oversees the maintenance of the 29.4-acre riverside property French Falls. The area’s trails allow for stunning vistas of the sparkling, fast-flowing river.
- The Maine Audubon conserves properties across the state, from Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary with panoramic views and crystalline ponds, to the 3,100-acre salt marsh of Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, where you can explore by foot or paddle.
- Kennebec Land Trust helps maintain over 53 miles of trails and conserve 7,000 acres of land in the areas that define central Maine. One of the gems they help oversee is Mount Pisgah Conservation Area, where Maine families have enjoyed hiking and blueberrying for generations.
- Royal River Conservation Trust: From water trails to conserved working farms, Royal River Conservation Trust is passionate about keeping nature and water sustainable for generations. Bradbury Mountain Berry Farm was conserved in 1999 by RRCT, keeping the berries and memories sweet for generations to come.
While most land trust properties in Maine are dog friendly, some are not. Check the MLTN website or individual land trust websites before heading out with your pet. To ensure safety and respect for others, please keep dogs leashed at all times and take care of the necessary cleanup.
Centered in Community
In addition to acquiring and managing conserved areas, land trusts serve their community through various educational programs and projects. Whether coordinating with local schools on environmental classes or holding workshops on climate change, they consistently focus on outreach to make Maine a better place to live, work and play. The Maine Land Trust Network helps connect individual land trusts so they can collaborate and develop shared projects of interest. Take a look at the MLTN upcoming events page for their latest projects.
Independently Led and Operated
Land trusts are led by volunteer community leaders, some with staff and others solely volunteer based. Active members do the demanding work of helping clear trails, raising funds and connecting with the community. They depend on support from public grant programs and donations from individuals, families and local businesses to continue their work.
While You’re Out in Nature
One of the great perks of land trusts is how they allow you to escape to the serenity of nature, but while you’re there, ensure you take care of the land and take care of yourself. In Maine’s forests, proper footwear is a must—skip the sandals (tree roots are not friendly to exposed toes) and opt for hiking boots that give you the grip and support you need. And always stick to the trails that have been so carefully maintained by the land trusts! More tips can be found here.