Posts Tagged ‘featured’

1,400 Acres Conserved in Sebago

Tiger Hill Community Forest protects public access, water resources, and significant wildlife habitat.

Sebago, ME –   Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced the permanent protection of the newly created Tiger Hill Community Forest. The 1,429-acre forest is home to sensitive wildlife habitat, traditional working forestlands, and safeguards the water quality of Sebago Lake – the drinking water supply for over one-sixth of Maine residents.

The property has long been used by local community members for hiking, cross-country skiing, hunting, snowmobiling, and other activities. Under LELT ownership, public access for recreation will continue.

Fall foliage near Tiger Hill in Sebago, Maine. Photo by Jerry Monkman.

“Land conservation supports robust outdoor recreation and wood products industries, while also preserving a traditional way of life here in Maine’s Sebago Lake region,” said Matt Markot, Executive Director of Loon Echo Land Trust. “The Tiger Hill Community Forest protects wildlife habitats, secures public access for recreation, and preserves working forestland. The conservation of this land, which would not have been possible without the support of the Sebago community and the Trust for Public Land, will benefit generations of Mainers and visitors to come.”

While still largely rural, Sebago and surrounding towns have experienced more than twice the population growth rate of the state as a whole. LELT’s acquisition of the Tiger Hill Community Forest helps maintain the region’s rural character while benefiting the local tourism, outdoor recreation, and forest products industries. According to a 2019 University of Maine study, every $1 invested in forestland conservation in the Sebago region provides up to $8 in community benefits.

“This project is truly a milestone for the Sebago Lake region,” said Betsy Cook, Maine Program Director for The Trust for Public Land. “This new community forest will support the local outdoor recreation and forestry economy, protect a critical drinking water source, and provide a place for the community to connect to the outdoors and to their neighbors.”

Tiger Hill Community Forest protects hundreds of acres of critical wetland habitat and miles of frontage on the Northwest River, Sebago Lake’s second largest tributary. The project is a cornerstone of Sebago Clean Waters, a collaborative effort of nine conservation organizations, including The Trust for Public Land and Loon Echo Land Trust. In addition to protecting Sebago Lake’s water quality, the partnership seeks to support community well-being and the health of fish and wildlife in the Sebago watershed through forestland conservation.

“Tiger Hill Community Forest is a stellar example of multiple conservation organizations joining forces with the public and businesses like our local breweries to protect land that will benefit all of us,” said Karen Young, Coordinator of Sebago Clean Waters.

Photo by Jerry Monkman – ecophotography.com

Beyond protecting important water resources, the acquisition increases forest connectivity, providing valuable wildlife habitat to countless species, including moose, heron, bobcat and deer.

TPL facilitated the acquisition of the property from generous landowners with a shared vision to create a community forest. The land is now owned by LELT and will be stewarded to meet community needs for generations to come. Support for the community forest was provided by Portland Water District, the Maine Natural Resources Conservation Program, the Open Space Institute’s Resilient Landscape Fund, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Norway Savings Bank, Allagash Brewery, and many other generous foundations and individuals.

While the land is now under LELT’s ownership, the Trust still needs to raise another $250,000 to help cover the costs of caring for the land forever. Those costs include annual tax payments to the Town of Sebago.

“It has long been LELT’s policy to pay municipal property taxes on all of our lands,” said Markot. “Thus ensuring that the benefits of land conservation do not come at the expense of town budgets.” 

Donations to support the long-term stewardship of Tiger Hill Community Forest may be sent to Loon Echo Land Trust, 8 Depot Street Suite #4, Bridgton, ME 04009 or made online here.

Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) is a member supported, non-profit land trust working to protect the natural resources of the northern Sebago Lake region for future generations. Loon Echo conserves over 8,000 acres of land and manages 32 miles of hiking and biking trails in the towns of Bridgton, Casco, Denmark, Harrison, Naples, Raymond and Sebago. To support Loon Echo Land Trust and learn more about their lands, visit lelt.org.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. TPL has protected nearly 200,000 acres in Maine and has helped more than 30 towns acquire and create Community Forests. To learn more, visit tpl.org/our-work/maine.

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

Tips for Winter Hiking

Believe it or not, there are many reasons why winter hiking can be even more enjoyable than its summertime counterpart.

Think about it:

  • No bugs!
  • No humidity!
  • No crowds!

But there are a few really important things to consider before heading outside for a winter-time adventure. The list below includes some of the things that we’ve learned from our own adventures and wanted to share with you:

  • Layers! It’s cold when you get out of the car, but once you get going you’ll quickly work up some body heat. Wear layers you can peel off as you move along the trail. Throw your layers in your backpack because once you reach your destination (or the weather changes) you may want to put them right back on.
  • Forget those water bottle holders on your hiking backpack — instead, wrap your water bottle in an extra layer and stash your bottle inside your bag . Water bottles will quickly freeze in the stretchy holders on the outside of your bag.
  • Extra socks — even with the warmest snow boots, it’s an especially wonderful treat to throw on a fresh pair of socks for the ride home. Keep them in your backpack or a jacket pocket during your adventure and they’ll stay warmer than if you left them in the car.
  • Ski Poles – sure, you can spend lots of money on fancy hiking poles (which do work really well) or….you can go to your local dump store and look for some well loved, and funky colored, old ski poles! Poles are so helpful for keeping your balance on snowy trails. And if you like them, you can use them year-round!

And the number one tip:

  • TRACTION!! Whether it’s a pair of snowshoes or micro-spikes (our favorite) you’ll be amazed at the benefit of some extra traction. New this year: if you join us on one of our scheduled hikes or walks we have an awesome new fleet of snowshoes to loan out! Let us know ahead of time and we’ll make sure to have a set ready to go for you. If you want your own, Reny’s usually has some great deals on snowshoes and other traction devices, but don’t forget to check out eBay or Facebook marketplace to see if your neighbor has some they no longer use.

Start small (join us for a winter-time walk at Pondicherry Park in Bridgton or check out the Spiller Homestead Loop at Raymond Community Forest with a friend) and then work up to more challenging winter hikes on Loon Echo preserve lands such as Bald Pate and Pleasant Mountain.

See you on the trails!

Peabody-Fitch Woods

Norway Savings Bank Makes Surprise Year-End Gift to LELT

Norway Savings Bank (NSB) has made a special year-end gift of $10,000 to Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) in support of Tiger Hill Community Forest, the Trust’s current conservation project. The gift from the bank will be matched by a generous anonymous donor, doubling their impact on this important project.

Pat Weigel, President of Norway Savings Bank with Matt Markot (LELT Executive Director) and Maggie Lynn (LELT Development and Outreach Manager).

The land, to be owned and managed by LELT on behalf of the community, protects sensitive wildlife habitat and historic working forestlands, and will be open to the public for recreation. 

The unexpected gift was part of NSB’s “Sharing Success” year-end giving.

Watch NSB deliver good news to local non-profits and organizations, including LELT!

“2019 was another very good year for the Bank, which is a testament to our employees, customers and communities,” said Patricia Weigel, President and CEO of NSB. “Reinvesting in our communities is at the heart of what we do.”

The gift from NSB will directly benefit the communities they serve. Once conserved, Tiger Hill Community Forest will secure close-to-home recreation opportunities for Sebago residents and visitors, support local jobs in tourism and forest-products, and also protect the water quality of Sebago Lake, the drinking water source for the greater Portland area.

Fundraising for the project has been done in collaboration with The Trust for Public Land. Tiger Hill Community Forest has received generous support from Portland Water District, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, the Nature Conservancy in Maine, Highstead Foundation, Sebago Clean Waters, an anonymous foundation, Norway Savings Bank, and many individual donors.  

Donations to support Tiger Hill Community Forest can be made here, or sent to Loon Echo Land Trust, 8 Depot Street Suite #4, Bridgton, ME 04009.

LELT Awarded Grant for Trail Development

We’re excited to announce that LELT was awarded a grant from the L.L. Bean Maine Land Trust Grant program to support the construction of an accessible & interpretive trail, a shared parking area with Bridgton Historical Society, and signage at our newest preserve, Peabody-Fitch Woods.

The $3,000 grant will be used in conjunction with funds from private donors and other grant-makers to complete the infrastructure improvements.

Existing trail to the quarry at Peabody-Fitch Woods.

Learn more about Peabody-Fitch Woods & our trail plans here: loonecholandtrust.org/pfw/

Giving Tuesday

2019 #GivingTuesday Goal: $2,000

Every winter, we must raise over $2,000 to keep our trail head parking lots plowed. Donate now to help us keep them open for you and your family’s winter adventures!

Thanks for helping us reach our fundraising goals! We couldn’t protect more land, steward public trails, or offer free public programs without your support.

#givingtuesday is on Tuesday, December 3rd. It was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past seven years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. Loon Echo Land Trust is proud to take part in this global giving movement.


Generous Match Offered for All Donations to Finalize Tiger Hill Community Forest in Sebago

Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) have received a generous $100,000 anonymous grant to match new donations for the protection of 1,400 acres of undeveloped land in the town of Sebago.

Fall foliage and the Northwest River near Tiger Hill in Sebago, Maine. Photo by Jerry Monkman // ecophotography.com

To date, we’ve raised nearly $1.3 million to purchase and protect the property. We are seeking to raise an additional $286,000 needed to purchase the property by the end of the year. Once conserved by the trust, the property will be known as Tiger Hill Community Forest, in recognition of the land’s most prominent peak.

The land is to be owned and managed by Loon Echo on behalf of the community. It protects sensitive wildlife habitat and historic working forestland, and will be open to the public for recreation. 

Community members visit the beaver pond located on the property.

“The property is currently used by local community members for hiking, cross-country skiing, hunting, snowmobiling, and other activities,” stated the Sebago Board of Selectmen in a letter of support. “Acquiring the property for conservation and recreation will secure these close-to-home recreation opportunities for Sebago residents and visitors.”

While still largely rural, Sebago and surrounding towns have experienced more than twice the population growth rate of the state as a whole. Conservation of natural areas like the Tiger Hill Community Forest will help to maintain the region’s rural charm while benefiting the local tourism, outdoor recreation, and forest products industries.

We are partnering with TPL in the fundraising effort to acquire the property. Both LELT and TPL are partners in Sebago Clean Waters (SCW), a partnership working to conserve 35,000 acres in the Sebago Lake watershed to protect the water quality of Sebago Lake, the water source for over one-sixth of Maine residents, many visitors, and businesses in the greater Portland area. Portland Water District (PWD), who is also a partner in SCW, has pledged $345,000 towards the project. The Maine Drinking Water Program is providing a low-interest loan to PWD to fund its contribution.

Sebago community members attend a community planning meeting.

“Tiger Hill Community Forest provides countless public benefits, including protection of drinking water for a sixth of Maine’s population. Its forests act as a filter, purifying water as it flows into rivers, streams, and, ultimately, Sebago Lake. Conserving this forest means Mainers will enjoy the benefits forever. We are excited for the residents of the town of Sebago and will continue to support projects like this in the Sebago Lake watershed.”

Paul Hunt, PWD Environmental Manager

We have raised approximately 80% of the funds for the project, but need to raise another $286,000 to complete the purchase and care for the land forever. Donations of any amount to the project will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the matching grant. For example, a $10 donation towards the purchase becomes $20, $50 becomes $100, and $1,000 becomes $2,000. 

Donations to support Tiger Hill Community Forest can be made online here, or sent to 8 Depot Street Suite #4, Bridgton, ME 04009.


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 7,000 acres of land and manages 31 miles of hiking and biking trails in the towns of Bridgton, Casco, Denmark, Harrison, Naples, Raymond and Sebago.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. TPL has protected nearly 200,000 acres in Maine and has helped more than 30 towns acquire and create Community Forests. To learn more, visit tpl.org/our-work/maine.

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

Hunting on LELT Lands

Did you know we allow hunting on all of our preserves (land that we own)? That’s nearly 5,000 acres. It is our mission to keep the Maine tradition of public access to private land alive here in the Lake Region.

As a local, non-­profit organization we encourage all users- hunters, hikers, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, skiers – to consider making a donation to the Trust so that we can continue to manage and care for our lands and trails. You may donate at a trail head, or online by clicking here.

The Quarry at Peabody-Fitch Woods.

Stay safe and enjoy time outside this hunting season with the following tips:

FOR HUNTERS

  • Follow all Maine State Hunting Laws.
  • Consider hunting on one of our preserves that doesn’t have a formal trail network on it.
  • Be respectful of the land.
  • No permission is needed to hunt on LELT lands, however we encourage you to let us know that you’re using and appreciating the access. We also love to know what you see (not to scope out spots for ourselves, but to get a sense of what wildlife is out there). Contact Jon (stewardship@lelt.org, 207-647-4352) to chat about your time on our lands.
  • For more resources on hunting in Maine, click here.

FOR HIKERS AND OTHER USERS

  • Always wear two items of bright, blaze orange clothing. Pets, too!
  • Stay on the trail
  • Know hunting season dates. Click here to view the 2019-2020 Maine dates.
  • Avoid hiking at dawn and dusk, as those are prime times of the day for hunting.
  • Hike on Sunday – there is no hunting on Sundays per Maine State Law.
  • Go for a walk somewhere where hunting is not allowed, such as Pondicherry Park.

Thanks for using, respecting, and appreciating our lands. Have fun and be safe!

Land Trusts Work for Maine

A boy hikes on the summit of Bald Pate Mountain in Bridgton, Maine.

At 6.5%, Maine has the lowest percentage of state-owned public land of any east coast state. In Maine, which has more land trusts per capita than any other state, the land trust community has stepped up to secure public access to the outdoors when government has not. Additionally, by paying taxes and maintaining working forests and farms, Maine land trusts are providing a direct economic benefit to Maine businesses and municipalities.

Land Conservation in Maine, at a glance:

  • Maine land trusts provide access to over 2,000 acres of recreational trails and over 400 water access sites
  • Maine land trusts protect over 2.5 million acres of land open to hunting
  • Over 2 million acres of Maine land trust conserved lands are working forest and another 36,000 acres are working farmland
  • 94.5% of Maine land trust conserved land is on the tax rolls with an additional 4% of that land being paid in lieu of taxes

Indirectly, Maine land trusts are providing an economic benefit to the State by attracting visitors with access to recreation and open space. Loon Echo is proud to support our local economy and community by protecting 7,000 acres of land in Bridgton, Casco, Denmark, Harrison, Naples, Raymond, and Sebago.

Learn more about Land Trusts in Maine here.

Youth Deer Day at Hacker’s Hill

The Hacker’s Hill Gate will be closed to vehicle traffic on Saturday, October 26th for Youth Deer Hunt Day. This is an annual event, and LELT has closed the gate to allow families the opportunity to hunt at Hacker’s Hill for many years.

All are welcome to walk up. Hunters must follow all Maine State Hunting Laws and preserve use guidelines. We encourage all pedestrians (and their pets) to wear blaze orange clothing.

All Loon Echo Land Trust preserves are open for hunting in-season. For a list of Maine hunting season dates, click here.

Questions? Email info@lelt.org or give our office a call at 207-647-4352.

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.