News Archive

19th Annual Loon Echo Trek Recap

Over 70 runners and hikers braved the elements to participate in the 19th Annual Loon Echo Trek on Saturday, September 14th.

“We’d like to thank our Trekkers, volunteers, and sponsors for making the 19th Annual Trek a fun and successful day,” said Matt Markot, Loon Echo Land Trust’s Executive Director, “spirits were high despite the weather.”

Trekkers traversed Pleasant Mountain from Denmark’s Southwest Ridge trailhead to Bridgton’s Shawnee Peak ski area. Participants completed the six-mile mountain ridge course in support of our conservation efforts. Trekkers also have the opportunity to crowdfund to support their hike and run. Top fundraisers John Keller and Tom Gilmore brought in over $1,000 for LELT.

Since its beginning in 2000, the Loon Echo Trek has been our largest annual fundraising event. Hiking the trails at Pleasant Mountain trails has been part of the event since 2007. The “Trek” showcases the conserved land and our extensive trail network on Pleasant Mountain in Denmark and Bridgton.

Runner Frank Farrell reflected on the beauty of the course, “While running, the view from the peaks made me stop in my tracks and look around.”

GrandyOats Granola was featured at the Main Summit Rest Area.

Snacks and volunteers greeted Trekkers at three “rest-stops” at each of Pleasant Mountain’s peaks along the mountain ridge. A taco bar lunch and beer donated by Allagash Brewing Company welcomed participants and volunteers at Shawnee Peak’s Blizzards Pub as well as door prizes from local businesses such as Bridgton Books, the Good Life Market, Pleasant Mountain Camping, Portland Water District and more.

The 19th Annual Loon Echo Trek would not have been possible without the support of presenting sponsor Norway Savings Bank and other top sponsors Shawnee Peak, Migis Lodge, and the Bridgton News.

Next September marks 20 years of the Loon Echo Trek, and we are excited to grow the event with the support of the local business community and volunteers. More information about the Trek, as well as photos from this year’s event, can be found on our Facebook page and on the Trek page of our website.

Evening of Geology POSTPONED

The ‘Evening of Geology’ originally scheduled for Wednesday, August 21st has been postponed due to weather. New date: Wednesday, September 18th, 5pm, Hacker’s Hill. 

 

For our full events calendar, visit www.loonecholandtrust.org/events.

252 Acres Conserved in South Bridgton

After a major fundraising effort, Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) is excited to announce that we have purchased and protected 252 acres of forestland surrounding Bridgton Historical Society’s Narramissic Farm in South Bridgton. 

“We received incredible support from the community for this conservation project,” says Matt Markot, Loon Echo Land Trust’s (LELT) Executive Director. “The site of a once prosperous and well known family farm in South Bridgton, this land has great cultural, historical and ecological significance. We’ve chosen to call this land ‘Peabody-Fitch Woods’ in honor of the families who settled and farmed here. Now protected, this land will continue to benefit our community forever.”

Narramissic Historic Farm

The forest was originally part of the historic Peabody-Fitch Farm (now called Narramissic), which was established in 1797, just three years after Bridgton was incorporated. Margaret Monroe purchased the property in 1938. She left the farm buildings and fields to Bridgton Historical Society when she passed away in 1986.

Monroe’s daughter, Margaret “Peg” Normann, spent many of her summers at Narramissic and owned the 252 forested acres surrounding the farmstead. Peg passed away on June 11th, 2019.

“Loon Echo’s permanent conservation of this land is a fitting tribute to her love for the farm that she knew for so much of her life,” said the Bridgton Historical Society in a statement.

“We are thrilled to see the dreams that our mother and grandmother had – to make Narramissic and the surrounding land a place for others to enjoy – coming to fruition,” said Kristin (Normann) Mudge, daughter of Peg Normann and grandaughter of Margaret Monroe. “They would be so pleased! My siblings and I are excited and grateful that Loon Echo Land Trust and the Bridgton Historical Society are greeting this new venture with such energy and enthusiasm, and that our family’s beloved farm will forever remain intact.”

The Normann Family’s decision to conserve the property is noteworthy. Ned Allen, Bridgton Historical Society’s Executive Director, notes the significance of conserving the land surrounding the farmstead. “One of the most important components of Narramissic’s historic significance is its isolation from contemporary architectural and landscape features.”

Peabody-Fitch Woods is in close proximity to other conserved lands including Perley Mills Community Forest, Five Fields Farm, Bald Pate Preserve, two Town of Bridgton woodlots, Sebago Headwaters Preserve, and Holt Pond Preserve.

Under our ownership and management, Peabody-Fitch Woods will never be developed, but the property will remain on the municipal tax roll. This acquisition also secures public access for recreational opportunities including hunting, walking, and nature observation. We will enhance the existing pedestrian trails located on the property and work with local clubs to ensure that a snowmobile and ATV corridor on the property remains accessible.

We will construct a new universal access trail over the next year that will take visitors on a walk through time. When completed, the trail will provide glimpses into the farm’s agricultural past and vistas of westerly mountains. Informational signs along the universal access trail will provide insight into the Peabody and Fitch families’ pioneering efforts. 

“The Peabody, Fitch, Monroe and Normann families left an amazing legacy,” says LELT’s Stewardship Manager and South Bridgton resident Jon Evans, “We [LELT] are proud to now have the responsibility of protecting and managing this land forever.”

Peabody-Fitch Woods will also support a variety of cultural, educational and recreational activity. We are collaborating with the Bridgton Historical Society to plan new collaborative events that will take advantage of access to the farm and the woods.

Walking from the fields of Narramissic towards Peabody-Fitch Woods. Photo by Brien Richards.

The conservation of Peabody-Fitch Woods also increases forest connectivity, provides valuable wildlife habitat, and aids in the protection of the Sebago Lake watershed. Seventy-five percent of the forest is located within the Sebago Lake watershed, prompting Portland Water District to make a significant contribution to the project. “Forests filter water naturally, so these woods will help keep Sebago Lake – and all the ponds and streams between the property and Sebago Lake – clean forever. This is why our company is so supportive of Loon Echo’s work,” says Portland Water District Environmental Manager Paul Hunt.

We also received generous support from many community members, charitable foundations (including The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, Kendal C. and Anna Ham Charitable Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation, Davis Conservation Foundation, Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust and an anonymous family foundation) and Sebago Clean Waters for this project. Thank you to everyone who contributed and helped conserve this special place.

We invite you to join us for a sunset concert with Bruce Marshall at Narramissic Farm on Wednesday, August 14th at 6:00 PM to celebrate the conservation of Peabody-Fitch Woods. Bring chairs, blankets, and a picnic for a fun evening outdoors. Carpooling is advised. Suggested donation of $10/person with proceeds to benefit Peabody-Fitch Woods and the Bridgton Historical Society.

More information about Peabody-Fitch Woods can be found at www.lelt.org/pfw.

 

38 Acres Conserved in Harrison, Expanding Crooked River Forest

Bridgton, ME. Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) is pleased to announce an expansion of their Crooked River Forest at Intervale with the purchase of 38 acres of forested land in Harrison. The acquisition brings the total acreage of the conserved forest there to 334.

Tributary to the Crooked River flows through the newly conserved property.

The Crooked River Forest at Intervale allows public access for hiking, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling (on designated trails), skiing, and mountain biking. Preventing future development along the Crooked River through forestland conservation will ensure public access for recreation on the river and its surrounding forests.

“Protecting the Crooked River and local forests is critical to the health of rural economies in western Maine,” said Matt Markot, LELT Executive Director. “Conservation land in this area sustains and creates jobs in tourism, outdoor recreation, and forestry.”

In addition to protecting important wildlife habitat and providing recreation opportunities, this land purchase is a big deal for clean water in southern Maine. 

The Crooked River is the largest tributary into Sebago Lake, Maine’s second largest lake and the primary source of clean drinking water for 200,000 people – one-sixth of all Mainers – who live or work in 11 communities in the Portland area. Protecting forestland along the Crooked River has been an important collaborative goal between Portland Water District and Loon Echo Land Trust for many years. 

“Sebago Lake and the Crooked River mean so much to so many people,” said Paul Hunt, Portland Water District’s Environmental Manager. “The lake is the water supply for 1 in 6 Mainers and the river is its most important tributary. Together they support one of the few landlocked salmon fisheries in Maine.”

With the forest acting as a natural filter for water, permanently protecting forested areas around the river is vital to maintaining the high water quality of the Crooked River and Sebago Lake. The Crooked River – and larger Sebago Lake – watershed has been identified as a priority for forestland conservation.

Land conservation in the Sebago Lake watershed is the focus of Sebago Clean Waters (SCW), a collaborative initiative formed in 2017. Sebago Clean Waters aims to conserve another 35,000 acres in the Sebago Lake watershed in the next 15 years in order in order to protect water quality, community well-being, a vibrant economy, and the health of fish and wildlife. Local SCW partners include Loon Echo Land Trust, Lakes Environmental Association and the Western Foothills Land Trust. Other SCW partners provided funding for this project including The Nature Conservancy in Maine, Portland Water District, and Casco Bay Estuary Partnership.

 

Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) is a member supported, non-profit land trust that works to protect the natural resources of the northern Sebago Lake region for future generations. Loon Echo conserves over 6,700 acres of land and manages 31 miles of hiking and biking trails in the towns of Bridgton, Casco, Denmark, Harrison, Naples, Raymond and Sebago. To learn more about Loon Echo Land Trust visit www.lelt.org or call 207-647-4352.

Sebago Clean Waters (SCW) is a collaborative effort of nine organizations working to protect water quality, community well-being, a vibrant economy, and the health of fish and wildlife in the Sebago region through voluntary forestland conservation. SCW’s goal is to protect 35,000 more acres in the Sebago Lake watershed in the next 15 years (to conserve 25% of the watershed). To learn more, visit www.sebagocleanwaters.org.

5 Family-Friendly Hikes for Summer

School’s out for Summer! The sun is shining (most of the time) and the bugs are (almost) gone- it’s a great time to get outside and enjoy nature with the whole family. Research shows time and time again that spending time outside increases attention span, promotes social skills, reduces stress, and just makes you feel good! Sometimes finding the right place to go with the little ones in your life can be tough. Check out our suggestions below, and as always contact us if you have questions.

Part of the Loop Trail at Mayberry Hill Preserve

1.Mayberry Hill Preserve, Casco – A relatively flat, one-mile loop trail on the preserve features benches and rock walls. Easy for kids, dog-friendly!

One of the views from the top of Bald Pate

2. Bald Pate Mountain Preserve, South Bridgton – An easy-moderate hike that rewards you with great views on the way up. Park in the main parking area off of Route 107, and head up the Bob Chase Scenic Loop to the summit. Bring your dog and a picnic!

Hacker’s Hill Preserve

3. Hacker’s Hill Preserve, Casco – Well, this isn’t so much of a hike because you can drive to the top! Yeah, you heard right- no complaining about tired legs. M, W, F, Sat & Sun the gate to the hill is open and you can drive your car right to the summit. This preserve features fields for kids to run around in, picnic tables, and amazing views. Pro-tip: bring a kite if it’s windy!

View from Pismire Bluff at Raymond Community Forest

4. Raymond Community Forest, Raymond – The Spiller Homestead Loop at RCF offers interpretive signs that will teach you about what you’re seeing in the woods as you walk. Looking for a challenge? Head up the Pismire Bluff Trail for great views of Crescent Lake.

A Boardwalk at Pondicherry Park

5. Pondicherry Park, Bridgton – Easy walking trails in the heart of downtown Bridgton. Download Bridgton Historical Society’s App and take a walk through history as you explore the park. Or, just explore on your own and see how many different kinds of trees you can find!

Happy trails!

Volunteers Give Back on National Trails Day

Bridgton, ME. Over twenty people gave back to the hiking trails on Pleasant Mountain to celebrate National Trails Day on Saturday, June 1. Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT), who owns and protects over 2,000 acres on Pleasant Mountain and manages the ten-mile trail network, hosted the trail work day.

Members from the Maine Outdoor Adventure Club, scouts from Troop 71 and members of Run for the Hills Run Club all joined in to give back to the trails. Volunteers focused their efforts on the Bald Peak and Sue’s Way trails; clearing drainage structures to keep water from pooling on the trails and helping brush in ‘social trails’. In addition, the volunteers helped move the Bald Peak Trail Kiosk and a donation tube from the old Bald Peak trail head to the new trail head a few hundred feet away.

“Thousands of people hike our Pleasant Mountain trails every year,” said LELT Executive Director, Matt Markot. “Without our dedicated volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to provide a quality hiking experience for visitors while simultaneously protecting the natural systems on Pleasant Mountain.”

National Trails Day, hosted annually by the American Hiking Society, aims to bring recognition to the incredible benefits trails provide for recreation, access to the outdoors, and general well-being. To celebrate, individuals are encouraged to give back to the trails they use by picking up litter or attending a trail work day.

In total, LELT maintains over 31 miles of hiking and biking trails on their ten preserves. With only one staff member to cover all their land, LELT relies on their volunteers to complete some of the trail maintenance and monitoring. The Land Trust has a robust trail adoption program where groups or individuals maintain the trails and report hazards to LELT staff 3 or 4 times a year. LELT also hosts volunteer trail work days to provide folks with an opportunity to learn more about the process. 

“No experience is necessary to join our trail work days,” said LELT’s Stewardship Manager Jon Evans. “Our volunteers and staff provide clear expectations, training and tools when needed.” 

If you’re interested in volunteering with Loon Echo Land Trust, sign up here or give us a call at 207-647-4352.

Historically Significant Land Closer to Being Conserved

Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) moved another step closer to conserving 252 acres of forestland in South Bridgton this week. LELT announced that the Kendal C. and Anna Ham Charitable Foundation granted them $12,500 to help purchase the property, which will be called “Peabody-Fitch Woods.”

Peabody-Fitch Woods will forever protect the land surrounding Bridgton Historical Society’s historic Narramissic Farm. Conserving this land will ensure public access for recreational opportunities including hunting, walking, and nature observation. LELT plans to enhance the existing pedestrian trails located on the property and has engaged local clubs to make sure that a snowmobile and ATV corridor on the property remains accessible.

This award adds to grant money already received from several other foundations, including the Fields Pond Foundation, Davis Conservation Foundation, Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust and an anonymous foundation along with many donations from individuals in the community.

“We have received incredible support from the community for this conservation project,” says Matt Markot, LELT’s Executive Director. “In partnership with the Bridgton Historical Society, we are eager to protect this land. The site of a once prosperous and well known family farm in South Bridgton, it has incredible cultural, historical and ecological value. Once protected, this land will continue to benefit our community forever.”

LELT seeks to raise the rest of the money needed to purchase the property before a June 30th, 2019 deadline. To date, LELT has received 95% of the funds needs just another $17,000 to purchase the land. Private donations from individuals will be critical in achieving this goal. Complete information about the project, including maps and the option to donate online, can be found at www.lelt.org/pfw. Checks to support Peabody-Fitch Woods can also be sent to Loon Echo Land Trust, 8 Depot Street Suite #4, Bridgton, ME 04009.

Healthy Forests. Clean Water. Quality Beer.

Much of the land that drains to Sebago Lake is covered with forest. These forests act as a filter, naturally producing exceptional water quality. Yet only 10% of this forest is conserved – meaning development could eventually cause lower water quality and higher water treatment costs.  A new effort called Sebago Clean Waters (SCW) is underway, linking the community to forest conservation – to protect our water, wildlife, and way of life.

Dozens of local breweries rely on this water, too. Beer is 90% water; delicious beer begins with outstanding water. Select breweries are collaborating with PWD, SCW, and Loon Echo Land Trust to provide beautiful slideshows and information in tasting rooms at various times throughout National Drinking Water Week (May 5 -11). Staff from these organizations will be available to answer questions at some locations. See where you can find us here.

Watch this video to learn more about the connection between forests and water quality:

Learn more about Sebago Clean Waters.

 

Celebrate Earth Day

For nearly 50 years, the celebration of Earth Day has inspired people around the world to protect our planet and build meaningful connections with nature. We can all take actions to ensure that our earth is resilient and beautiful for future generations. Learn what you can do below.

Take Action

Support land conservation with a donation to Loon Echo today

Volunteer at an Earth Day clean-up near you

Celebrate nature with a walk in the woods

  • Create meaningful connections with nature by spending time outside. For a list of our preserves, click here.
  • Join us for an Earth Day hike up Bald Pate Mountain on Monday, April 22nd from 5-7pm
  • Save the Date for the 2019 Loon Echo Trek on September 14th, 2019. Hike or run from Denmark to Bridgton over the ridge of Pleasant Mountain!

Learn More

About Conservation Options for your land

  • Do you own land? Learn more about how to protect it with a conservation easement or through donation to Loon Echo.

About our work to protect the Sebago Lake Watershed

  • Sebago Clean Waters is  partnership of 9 organizations working to protect the water,wildlife, and way of life in the Sebago Lake watershed.

Stay Connected with all things Loon Echo

 

 

Environmental Education Grants Awarded

(Bridgton, ME) Loon Echo Land Trust is helping children learn about their environment and the importance of protecting our region’s land and natural resources by awarding Environmental Education Grants to local educational institutions and libraries. Every year, schools and libraries in Loon Echo’s 7-town service area (Denmark, Bridgton, Harrison, Naples, Casco, Raymond and Sebago) are invited to apply for one of Loon Echo’s Environmental Education Grants.

This year Loon Echo has congratulated the following recipients of their 2019 Environmental Education Grants: Bridgton Public Library, Raymond Village Library, Naples Public Library, Spaulding Memorial Library in Sebago, Harrison Elementary School, and Sebago Elementary School.

Since 1998, hundreds of children have benefited from programs that teach about the natural world due to Loon Echo’s Environmental Educational Grants developed as a memorial to local teachers, Helen Allen and Polly Bartlett. Past recipients have used their grants for a host of outdoor activities such as bringing in expert speakers, creating naturalist backpacks and educational displays. For more information on the program’s history and application process visit www.lelt.org/programs