A Summer With Three Land Trusts
My name is Vladimir Reed, and I am a rising junior at Bowdoin College majoring in Classics. Visiting Mount Desert Island as a child gave me the unique opportunity to access some of the most beautiful places in Maine. Spending time on trails when I was younger gave me a deep appreciation for nature and the importance of conservation work. While environmental conservation was a part of my life growing up in New England, caring about Maine’s natural spaces is only half the battle. I would not have fully understood the profound impacts Land Trusts make on their communities without putting my boots on the ground.
As a Richard G. Rockefeller Conservation Intern, I split my summer between three organizations— Falmouth Land Trust (FLT), Chebeague Cumberland Land Trust (CCLT) and Freeport Conservation Trust (FCT). I enjoyed working alongside my fellow intern Hannah Bradish consistently throughout the summer as we transitioned between the trusts. Alex Perry, the stewardship coordinator for FLT, and Jonathan Dawson, the stewardship coordinator for CCLT and FCT, worked with us over the past ten weeks to make this a fun and productive summer. As a team, Hannah and I were able to monitor many properties at each land trust. We used some newly learned carpentry skills to install an encouraging amount of bog bridging on trails in Falmouth, Cumberland, and Freeport. Along with field work, I also compiled materials and wrote management plans for the accreditation process at CCLT alongside executive Director Chris Cabot.
Working with community volunteers has been the most rewarding work I have done this summer. I met many local community members who care about natural spaces and put in the stewardship work to improve them for the common good. Even when “stewardship” meant pushing wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of gravel, I was motivated by their upbeat attitudes and bright smiles.
After working as a conservation intern this summer, I gained a new appreciation for the great effort that goes into keeping land conserved and maintained. The magic starts in the office writing easements, baselines, and management plans to cover all the necessary legal bases. Outdoor Stewardship comes with its own set of different responsibilities including invasive plant removal, installing kiosks, painting blazes, monitoring each property annually, and building and repairing important bog bridging throughout the thousands of acres managed by local trusts.
Though the work may seem labor-intensive, land trusts play a crucial role in keeping open spaces open in perpetuity. I was able to witness the direct positive impact of land trusts on their communities multiple times throughout my internship. One easement, held by FCT, resides right behind a school in Freeport and allows those students to access a natural open space during their day. Another property, owned by CCLT, allows Chebeague Island residents to continue to ice-skate on a beloved pond each winter. My favorite interaction this summer was working on a property in Falmouth for an entire week ripping out bittersweet and Japanese barberry before meeting a father who had been walking there with his daughter each morning since the beginning of the pandemic.
My hope is that more and more people will connect and participate more with a land trust near them to help continue the valuable projects going on all year. Even large projects come together quickly when groups of volunteers are involved and motivated to complete a shared goal. I am excited to continue to work with MCHT however I can to support the ongoing work they do along the coast of Maine.
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