News Archive

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.

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.