Bald Mountain - Photo by Jacob Hessler

FOUNDING STORY

Coastal Mountains Land Trust was founded in 1986 as the Camden-Rockport Land Trust by a small group of citizens intent upon preservation of Beech Hill in Rockport. The 572-acre property, at imminent risk of development, had scenic and ecological values: acres of blueberry barrens, forests, a ruined historic stone house, and the most unique summit of the Camden Hills.  A conservation easement was created and purchased to protect this important landmark and served as an important launch of the land conservation program

 
HISTORY & ACCOMPLISHMENTS
1986 - 1991

1987  Conservation easement on Beech Hill.

1988  Thurlow Conservation Easement on Fernalds Neck.

1990  Board of Directors launch conservation planning process to prioritize conservation areas Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville, and Hope. Bald & Ragged Mountains and the Ducktrap River selected as project areas.

1991  Office rented in Rockport Village and Administrator hired, the first Land Trust staff person, with a large and engaged volunteer team.

Beech Nut - Photo by Judy Berk

1992 - 1997

1994  105 acres on the summit and slopes of Mount Battie conserved and given to the Camden Hills State Park.

1995  Land Trust helps establish and lead the Ducktrap Coalition, a collaboration of nearly 30 organizations at local, state, federal                levels, to conserve the Ducktrap River Watershed.
1996  1,000 acres of land conserved.
 

1998 - 2003

1998  Land Trust hires first Executive Director, Scott Dickerson.
1999  Conservation Lands Manager hired for stewardship of conservation lands.
         • 2,000 acres of land conserved.
2000  Service region expands to include Belfast Bay watersheds through merger with former Belfast-Northport-Lincolnville Land               Trust.
2001  Board adopts Conservation Plan for new Focal Area--Passagassawakeag Greenway--and hires Conservation Projects                           Manager to work with landowners on priority conservation projects.

         • 3,000 acres of land conserved.
2002  Land Trust constructs and moves into new office building in Camden.
         • Land Trust co-publishes To Save a River, a book of photos and essays telling the conservation story of the Ducktrap River                   Watershed, where 83% of the land along the river has been permanently conserved.
2003  Beech Hill Preserve established by collaboration with Maine Coast Heritage Trust. The summit opens to the public.

         • Campaign for Passagassawakeag Greenway launched in Belfast and Campaign for Bald & Ragged Mountains launched in                   Camden/Rockport.

         • Land Trust receives Land Heritage Award from Maine Coast Heritage Trust.
         • 4,000 acres of land conserved.

 

2004-2009

2004  45% of the Passagassawakeag Greenway conservation goals completed.
2005  5,000 acres of land conserved.
2006  37% of Bald and Ragged Mountains in conservation.
2007  Restoration of Beech Nut is completed and national historic designation recognized.
2008  Land Trust one of the first in the country to receive national accreditation.

         • 6,000 acres of land conserved.

2009  8,000 acres of land conserved.
 

2010 - 2015

2010  Central Maine Power donates two preserves totaling 705 acres in Searsport, Stockton Springs, and Prospect; the largest land               conservation transaction to date.
2011 • 25th Anniversary Year: completed a four-season trail on Ragged Mountain.
         • 25 miles of public trails on preserves are open.

         • 9,000 acres of land conserved.
2014 • Doug Sensenig hired as Executive Director (Scott Dickerson, winner of Maine Coast Heritage Trust's Espy Award, accepts                  part time role as Land Acquisition Coordinator).
         • National accreditation is renewed!

2015  Ian Stewart hired as Executive Director after 13 years as Stewardship Program Manager.

         • $4.9 million Round the Mountain Collaboration Campaign launched.

2015 to Present

2016  Land Trust celebrates 30 years of conservation!

         • Belfast Rail Trail project complete!

2017  Historic Gates at Beech Hill Preserve restored.

2018  Land Trust purchases 786-acre Mirror Lake Conservation Easement from the Maine Water Company.

2019  Land Trust purchases 500-acre Grassy Pond Conservation Easement from the Maine Water Company.

         • 12,000 acres of land conserved.

2020  Land Trust Accreditation renewed for a third time.

         • Board adopts new 25-year Conservation Plan and 2020-25 Strategic Plan.

BOARD AND STAFF
 
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MEET OUR STAFF
Ian Stewart, Executive Director

Ian is responsible for providing strategic vision and leadership in the fulfillment of the Land Trust's mission and overseeing all organizational functions, including land protection and stewardship, fundraising, operations, communications, and financial management. He joined the organization in 2002 and led its stewardship program through mid-2015, when he became the organization's third Executive Director. Prior to joining the Land Trust, Ian earned a Master's Degree in Forestry at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. A native of Seattle, Ian first came to Maine to study biology and Latin American Studies at Bowdoin College. He lives in Appleton with his wife and two daughters.

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Ryan Gates,  Stewardship Program Director

Ryan came to Maine from Connecticut in 1998 when he chose to attend Unity College. After working in different parts of the state, he settled on the Midcoast in 2004. Most recently employed as the Farm Operations Manager at Maine Coast Heritage Trust's Aldermere Farm in Rockport, Ryan now manages the Land Trust's Preserves in the Camden/Rockport area as well as the Beech Hill Blueberry Farm. He is excited to continue his career in land conservation with the Land Trust. 
Polly Jones, Office Manager & Membership Coordinator

Polly grew up in Chicago and attended the University of Wisconsin. Most of her career has been spent working in the roller coaster world of nonprofits, and she is thrilled to have landed on the Coastal Mountains Land Trust team. Polly moved to Maine 20 years ago from Portland, Oregon - trading rain for snow - and couldn't be happier. Polly loves all the four-season outdoor activities Maine has to offer. In the summer of 2017 she finally conquered Mt. Katahdin.

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Ryan O'Neill, Stewardship Assistant

Born and raised in Maine, Ryan attended Unity College graduating in 2014 with a degree in Parks and Forest Resources. He has worked across the state in a variety of natural resource positions and is excited to begin his new chapter in land conservation. In his free time, Ryan enjoys fishing, cooking, traveling and spending time with his wife and dogs.

As Land Protection Program Director, Heather has the privilege of working with landowners to conserve their property. Heather rejoined the staff recently, having previously worked for the Land Trust from 2004-2008 in the same role. She has a Masters Degree in Community Planning with a focus on Land Use from the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Policy. Before joining the Land Trust the first time, she previously worked for Sudbury Valley Trustees in Massachusetts and the City of San Diego's Conservation Planning Initiative.  After living for several years in New Hampshire, she has returned home to Maine with her husband and son to be near family and enjoy all that the Midcoast area has to offer.  

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Jack ShaidaStewardship and Land Protection Manager

Growing up in New York, Jack moved to coastal Maine and to attend the College of the Atlantic, where he studied environmental law and policy. While in school he interned with the Land Trust. After graduating with a degree in Human Ecology in 2018, Jack moved up the coast from Bar Harbor, returning to the Land Trust to help with stewardship, community engagement, development, and map making. Currently, Jack is leading the Land Trust's 2019 conservation planning project. Jack spends his free time cooking, hiking, skiing, biking, paddling, and rock climbing. 

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Leah TrommerCommunity Engagement Coordinator

Leah has childhood roots hiking, paddling and nordic skiing with her family in central and western Maine. She has been a guide for several Maine Outdoor Ecology Centers throughout the state and spent eleven years teaching for and directing Tanglewood 4-H Camp and Learning Center’s Open Air Classroom.  She is also a Montessori teacher and worked for OUT Maine supporting LGBTQ+ youth.  Her personal interests have not changed from childhood, yet have expanded to include bicycle trekking, dance and restorative practices.  

 
BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Coastal Mountains Land Trust's Board of Directors are volunteers from the community who share expertise, commitment, and a mutual interest in preserving the natural beauty of our area. Each director is elected for a three-year term, and can be re-elected for an additional two consecutive three-year terms.

Dan Johnson, President

When Dan returned to Maine in 2010, he was looking for an opportunity to contribute to the community. Constructing and maintaining trails, building bridges, and tracking down boundaries with a fantastic group of people has been a deeply rewarding and educational way to accomplish that. He is delighted and honored to serve on the Coastal Mountains Land Trust Board.

Gianne P. Conard, Vice President

Gianne P. Conard FAIA is an architect, retired from the Federal Government. Prior to her work with the Public Buildings Service, Gianne was a partner with a firm in Philadelphia and a professor of architecture at Drexel, Lehigh, and Cornell universities.  A Fellow in the American Institute of Architects and former board member and volunteer with numerous professional and non-profit organizations, Gianne is currently President of the Waterfall Arts Board of Directors in Belfast ME. A resident of Belfast, she is a member of the In Town Design Review Board and can be seen around town with her golden retriever, Mr. Digby Wallace (who is now too old for long hikes...).

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Landis Gabel, Secretary

For 35 years Landis Gabel taught economics at an institute in Fontainebleau, France. Beautiful though rural France is, for most of those summers he sought the particular beauty of the mountains and sea of the Maine coast. After retiring, he moved permanently to Maine. He has been active with the Land Trust for many years and hopes to contribute to the Trust’s mission for many years more.

Malcolm White, Treasurer

Malcolm grew up in mountains of western Maine and left after college.  A manufacturing management job drew him back to the Midcoast 30 years ago. In 1994, assisted by his wife, Nancy, he became a steward for the Land Trust, eventually stewarding two easements and a Preserve.  That led to volunteering for work on trail maintenance and boundary lines.  He loves being in the outdoors and knowing that many of these beautiful mountains and shores are being protected forever.

Roy Call

Mid-coast Maine is a region of great natural beauty with its mountains meeting the sea, forests, fields, watersheds, lakes, ponds and variety of wildlife habitats.  Roy feels that he and his family have been the beneficiaries of the Land Trust’s vision and dedication in preserving permanently these special places.  Roy is honored to assist in this very important work which will benefit many generations to come.

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Emily McDevitt

Born and raised in Northern Maine, a love for the outdoors was instilled in Emily from an early age. A lifelong runner, Emily discovered trail running in 2014, and it was this activity that led her to Coastal Mountains Land Trust. Loving community as much as she loves trails, she founded Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine (TRoMM) in June of 2015. She joined the Round the Mountain Trail Committee and worked to see this capital campaign through to the end. Once it was complete, and unable to fathom not working with CMLT, she asked what’s next? And in the spring of 2021, what’s next became a three-year term on the board of Coastal Mountains Land Trust, and she could not be more honored, humbled, and over-the-moon excited to serve.

Tom Moore

The natural beauty of midcoast Maine is one of the reasons Tom and his family chose to live here. The views and the great access to hiking are important factors that contribute to a high quality of life. "The Land Trust has done remarkable work in just 30 years, and I want to help see progress long into the future, particularly with the vision for Bald and Ragged Mountains".

David Noble

David Noble is a retired trial lawyer with wide experience in civil and criminal litigation.  A graduate of Duke Law School, David is married to Gayle Elizabeth Noble, a clinical social worker. They have four adult children who live in Colorado, Illinois, Ohio and Maine.  David was admitted to the Bar in Ohio and the District of Columbia and has worked for different firms from 1966-2002, primarily in Ohio, as well as having a solo practice.  While in Camden, David and Gayle live on Megunticook Lake and appreciate the efforts of the Land Trust to conserve important areas of this region.

Roger Rittmaster  

Roger is a retired endocrinologist, who moved back to Maine in 2011 with his wife, Jeannie Hutchins. His hobbies include natural history and nature photography, woodworking and tennis. He is passionate about land conservation, and working with Coastal Mountains Land Trust is one way he can give back to his community. He is inspired by the thought of 200-year-old oak and maple trees gracing CMLT’s many preserves a century from now, and imagines the joy they will bring to people from the work we are doing now.  

Nick Ruffin

Nick and his wife have been coming to Rockport for many years to enjoy the natural beauty of the Midcoast and Penobscot Bay. He serves on the Board of Directors for Coastal Mountains Land Trust to see that the natural beauty of the area is preserved so that all who live here or visit can continue to share it.

David Thanhauser

David grew up in Philadelphia.  After completing 2 years of med school he fled the political and social turbulence of 1971 Boston and moved to Swanville as a back-to-the-land hippie in search of peace and simplicity.  He returned to med school, earning an MD in 1974 and completing a family practice residency in Augusta in 1977 before returning to live in Swanville and practice family medicine in Belfast for 40 years before retiring in 2017.  He has joined the CMLT board in the hopes of assisting with land conservation in the midcoast area in general and the Hurds Pond watershed in particular.  He plans to be buried on his property where he will finally be a bona fide back to the lander.         

Judy Wallingford

Judy was the president of Maine Water Company for 24 years, retiring in early 2017. Much of that career was spent at the company’s facilities on the shore of Mirror Lake in Rockport, the primary public water resource for the midcoast area. Born and raised in Maine, her family ties date back to the mid 1700’s. Judy graduated from Bowdoin College with majors in geology and mathematics. She loved raising her two children locally, sharing her passion for environmental stewardship with them. She feels privileged to be part of the Land Trust; helping ensure protection of and public access to the natural beauty of the area.

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Elisabeth Wolfe

Elisabeth is a Reflexologist who lives in Belfast. Prior to joining the board, Elisabeth and her husband Michael facilitated the conservation of two important additions to the Ducktrap River Preserve in Lincolnville and the McLellan-Poor Preserve in Northport. She is an active hiker and was one of the first people to complete the Land Trust's Hike-the-Guide Challenge. In her spare time, Elisabeth has also been the creator and coordinator of the Belfast Daffodil project.  She says " I am excited about the idea of contributing to land preservation in the midcoast area of Maine by participating in a more extensive way with Coastal Mountains Land Trust. I bring my knowledge, enthusiasm, long time living experience in Belfast area (since 1981) and a deep love of the Great outdoors."

 
PARTNERSHIPS

Many of our organization's greatest accomplishments have come as a result of close partnerships with individuals, local and statewide organizations, and government agencies that have a strong mutual interest in permanent conservation and stewardship of the land. We strongly believe that collaboration with others leads to developing strong projects, increased support, and greater benefits for the community.

 

Coastal Mountains Land Trust's list of regular partners includes:

Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition
Belfast Department of Parks and Recreation
Belfast Free Library
Camden Public Library
Ducktrap Wildlife Preserve, Inc.
Friends of Sears Island
Georges River Land Trust
Land for Maine's Future Program
Lincolnville Mountain Goats Snowmobile Club
Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Maine Farmland Trust

 

Merryspring Nature Center
MCNEMBA (Midcoast Chapter of the New EnglandMountain Bike Association)

Midcoast Restorative Justice Project
The Nature Conservancy
Northport Ridgeriders Snowmobile Club
Pen Bay Medical Center
Ragged Mountain Recreation Area / Camden Snow Bowl
Tanglewood 4H Camp / UMaine Cooperative Extension
TROMM (Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine)
Waldo County General Hospital
West Bay Rotary
 

This list does not include all of the organizations that we have worked with over the past 30 years, just the ones that we partner with on a regular basis. If we work with your organization regularly and it is not listed, please let us know, as we would like to acknowledge our collaboration.

 
 
ACCREDITATION

In 2008 we earned the right to proudly display the accreditation seal by becoming one of the first land trusts in the country (and the first in Maine) to receive accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program established by the Land Trust Alliance to ensure the accountability and quality of work of land conservation organizations.

 

We are particularly proud of this letter of commendation from U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree recognizing the significance of receiving accreditation.

 

Click HERE to learn more about the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and the accreditation seal.