(From left) Landon Fake, Carl Derian, Zach Schmesser (behind Derian), Emily Fuller Hawkins, Andy Cutko and Keely McConville pose for a photo at a July 13 event announcing the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust’s recent acquisitions. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTOS BY MALACHY FLYNN

Great Pond Mountain trust acquires new lands

ORLAND — The Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust hosted an event July 13 to publicly showcase its newly acquired wildlands, and to announce the public phase of its $2.36 million Growing the Dream campaign.

Two parcels of land were added to the conservation trust in relation to this campaign, one along the Dead River in Orland, and the other on Verona Island.

Speaking at the event was Carl Derian, president of the trust and co-chair of the campaign, and Emily Fuller Hawkins, treasurer of the trust and campaign co-chair. Derian and Fuller Hawkins presented the campaign, outlined its goals and announced the recent land acquisitions.

“This acquisition assures that 355 acres of forest and wetlands will be protected from development,” said Fuller Hawkins. “It adds more than 1 mile of shoreline on the Dead River in Orland and Bucksport to the wildlands.”

This section of conserved land in Orland and Bucksport is known as “Dead River West,” and is across the river from the protected portion of the eastern shore, which is already owned by the conservation trust. This is the main use of the campaign funds, as the purchase of this protected land needs to be paid off.

“The campaign also provides stewardship funds to maintain the 25-acre Joost family preserve on Verona Island,” Fuller Hawkins said.

The Joost Family Preserve includes a half-mile of saltwater shoreline. The property, which has been in the Joost family for three generations, was donated to Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust in honor of Arthur Joost.

“This parcel will be a wonderful place for public gatherings and low-impact recreation,” Fuller Hawkins said. “A parking lot has recently been completed, so the preserve is partially open for visitors.”

Andy Cutko, director of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, also spoke at the event about the importance of wildland conservation to the state of Maine.

“Conservation plays a number of important roles in Maine. First, it’s a linchpin of the state’s healthy and growing outdoor recreation economy,” said Cutko, “and 2020 outdoor recreation supported more than 28,000 jobs in Maine, accounting for nearly 5 percent of the state’s employment and providing more than $1.1 billion in wages.”

Cutko not only spoke about the economic importance of wildland conservation but the environmental importance as well, saying projects such as this are vital to the health of the environment in the fight against climate change.

“It’s a key strategy in our efforts to be resilient against climate change,” Cutko said. “Maine’s healthy forests collect and store carbon like a sponge, and Maine’s vast wetlands store carbon in the saturated peat bogs and fens.”

Dierdre Grant of Sen. Susan Collins’ office shared a letter from Sen. Collins to the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust.

A mile of shoreline along the Dead River in Orland has been added to the Great Pond Mountain Wildlands.

“I’m excited to see the increasing support for your efforts to preserve Maine’s natural beauty,” wrote Collins. “Thank you for working to ensure that these lands remain wild and accessible for future generations to enjoy. Congratulations and best wishes as you continue this important project.”

Also present was Zach Schmesser, representing U.S. Rep. Jared Golden’s office.

The goal of the Growing the Dream campaign is to raise $2.36 million in capital for the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust, so that the trust can continue to purchase and protect wildlands and maintain the recreational infrastructure within those lands.

Infrastructure is important within these protected areas, as there is a lot of work that has to be done to keep them properly accessible.

“We’re like a small municipality,” said Fuller Hawkins. “We have over 180 culverts on the property, we have about six bridges, we have replaced one last year. We’ve got to replace a big culvert here with a bridge, so that’s part of the capital campaign.”

Climate change also has an impact on the infrastructure. With changing weather conditions comes more damage to the existing infrastructure and the need to replace it.

“Those are not inexpensive items, and they are driven by climate change,” said Fuller Hawkins. “Impact of severe downpours brings all water down at once, and it’s undercut the existing bridges.”

So far, over 110 donors have contributed to the campaign, which has raised $1.8 million, which is 77 percent of the total fundraising goal. Out of the total sum of funds raised by the campaign, 62 percent will go to completing the land acquisition purchase, 33 percent will go toward stewardship funds and 5 percent will cover campaign costs.

Malachy Flynn

Reporter Malachy Flynn covers news on the Schoodic beat, which includes the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Sorrento, Sullivan, Trenton, Waltham, and Winter Harbor. He also reports on the town of Tremont on Mount Desert Island. He welcomes tips and suggestions about stories in the area. To contact Malachy with tips or questions, email him at [email protected].

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