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MCHT Enjoys Successful Conference

MCHT’s 2010 Maine Land Conservation Conference began at 9:00 am on Friday, April 30, when participants joined Andy Cutko and Kristen Puryear of the Maine Natural Areas Program for a talk and walk focused on the identification, conservation, and management of the State’s diverse natural communities based on the newly available book Natural Landscapes of Maine, which Andy co-authored. Under sunny skies and with warm temperatures, the conference was off to a great start.

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Andy Cutko led a field trip to Bradley Pond Farm in Topsham to showcase natural communities

In the afternoon, while about 20 conference goers joined Maine Forest Service entomologists Allison Kanoti and Colleen Teerling for an informative discussion and tour focused on insect pests, more than 60 people filed into Brunswick’s Frontier Café for a lively session devoted to the topic of public uses of land trust lands. Panelists Tim Glidden, Land for Maine’s Future Program; Judy Anderson, Community Consultants; Nancy Sferra, The Nature Conservancy; Joy Harding, ATV Maine; and Larry Totten, All Outdoors Guiding each provided their unique perspective on public use. After initial discussion, facilitator Caroline Pryor invited audience members to join the panelists. The session concluded with presentations on case studies by Nancy Perlson, Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust; Jim Dow, Blue Hill Heritage Trust; and Jane Arbuckle, MCHT.

With Friday’s informative programs complete, nearly one hundred conference goers turned to the Welcome Reception for more casual networking, tasty food, and lively music by Dark Hollow Bottling Company, a local five-piece “Americana” band. It was the perfect way to wind down and reenergize for Saturday’s full agenda.

On Saturday, May 1 380 attendees arrived at this year’s new venue, the Mount Ararat Middle School and Orion Performing Arts Center in Topsham. They were treated initially to an engaging and informative keynote address by Maine’s own Colin Woodard. The self-employed writer, award-winning journalist, and author of numerous books provided a vivid picture of Maine’s history, as well as how land and land conservation continues to shape it.

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Author Colin Woodard signed books for conference attendees after his stimulating keynote address on the history of Maine’s people

The morning’s plenary session also included a presentation of the 2010 Espy Land Heritage Award. This year’s award was presented to Don Hudson, President of The Chewonki Foundation, a position he is retiring from this year. MCHT President Tom Ireland summed up his achievements by stating, “Don is a truly outstanding conservationist, and his enthusiasm and passion are contagious. He is a tireless leader who has worked to integrate land conservation with environmental education and outdoor recreation in a number of settings.”

The plenary session also featured a celebration of MCHT’s Legal Counsel Karin Marchetti-Ponte in honor of her twenty-five years of service to the organization, our partner land trusts, and the State’s conservation efforts in general. Fortunately for all of us, Karin continues to work on our behalf to make Maine a better place to live and visit.

Activities on Saturday eventually turned to the 33 topical, concurrent workshops organized through three sessions. The wide-range of topics included something for everyone including core subjects such as easement drafting and management plans, but also more specialized topics like identifying important bird habitat, addressing alternative energy projects, and email marketing. For those who could not get enough information, throughout the day 40 organizations displayed their expertise during land fair and there were casual discussion groups organized at lunch, too.

In the end, more than 400 people participated in this year’s conference. Participants represented over 150 organizations, including about 60 land trusts. In addition, while most participants were from Maine, the conference also lured attendees from at least eight other states.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust would like to thank all who attended this year’s conference; the many experts that agreed to serve as panelists, presenters, and speakers; and all others who helped make it possible including Lead Sponsor L.L. Bean and Friday Reception Sponsor Oakhurst Dairy. There were also a number of friends and hosts instrumental in our success this year: Baker Newman & Noyes LLC, Sarah’s Café, Mount Ararat Middle School and the Orion Performing Arts Center, Comfort Inn, Franklin Printing, Frontier Café, Cinema and Gallery, the Land Trust Alliance, the Maine Coastal Program at the State Planning Office, the Gulf of Maine Coastal Program of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Hope to see you in 2011!

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