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Meet Your MCHT Land Steward

Beach clearing at Whaleboat Island

Stories from the Coast

Meet Your MCHT Land Steward

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A land steward is a person who takes care of conserved land. What does that look like, exactly? Well, it’s hard to say. There’s no typical day for a Maine Coast Heritage Trust land steward. 

Sometimes we’re writing preserve management plans in the office; sometimes we’re talking with local fire chiefs about how to safely remove dangerous structures; sometimes we’re leading nature walks; sometimes we’re boating out to islands with chainsaws in tow to remove fallen trees from trails.
 

Always, our mission is to manage preserves to balance the needs of people, plants, and animals.

We improve access to the coast by building trails and campsites, putting up signs, and bringing people out to preserves. 

We also conduct natural resource inventories of the properties we care for, and look after the plants and animals found there.

Always, our mission is to manage preserves to balance the needs of people, plants, and animals.

We’re constantly learning more about the communities we live and work in. We want to know how people use the land, and how we can protect these relationships with place as well as the land itself. 

Of course, relationships to the land change over time, and we collaborate to imagine new ways to manage the land to benefit the surrounding communities—today, as well as generations from now.

We love meeting new people, and this season we’ll be out in the field and out on the water every day. 
If you see us out and about, we hope you’ll say hi!
 

Caitlin Gerber

Caitlin Gerber

Working with a variety of partners and volunteers, Caitlin cares for land from Kittery to Boothbay, including MCHT's popular island preserves in Casco Bay. She also manages the Land Conservation Internship Program—providing Maine college students work at land trusts—and helps manage MCHT’s volunteer program.

“Land conservation protects what people love and enjoy about Maine—and sometimes they don’t even realize it. The happiness, fulfillment, and peace that comes with taking a trip out to an island or walking a coastal trail is essential. I see it first-hand: time in nature brings out the kindness in people.”

Amanda Devine

Amanda Devine

Amanda stewards MCHT properties from South Bristol to Northport, including Muscongus and western Penobscot Bays. A botanist by training, her specialties include invasive terrestrial plant management. She drafts MCHT’s preserve management plans, and has become fairly handy at demolishing structures on islands.

“I was drawn to this work out of a love for wildlife and native plants, and while that’s still crucial, I’m also motivated by inviting people to love MCHT land. Building trails, putting up a welcome sign, restoring degraded landscapes—these are all aspects of my job that I love.”
 

MCHT stewards lead nature walks on conserved land. Here, Vinalhaven and North Haven land steward Kirk Gentalen shares his knowledge of flora and fauna with visitor’s to Boot Head Preserve in Lubec.

Caleb Jackson

Caleb Jackson

Caleb tends to MCHT’s island and mainland conserved lands on the Blue Hill Peninsula, Deer Isle, and Northern Penobscot Bay. He thinks when you steward land well, people can’t tell that you’ve done anything at all.

“I grew up in a house surrounded by undeveloped forest. By the time I graduated high school the road was three lanes wide and there were shoddily built houses up and down the street. It is sad to see a thriving landscape get flattened and chewed up by sprawl. I want to work against that trend.”
 

Kirk Gentalen

Kirk Gentalen

Kirk stewards MCHT conserved land on Vinalhaven and North Haven islands, which entails taking care of trail and forestry needs and monitoring easements. He also connects with island residents through environmental education, volunteering, and outreach programs.

“I love it when someone comes up to me and tells me about something they observed or enjoyed on a preserve. I mean, not only do we protect incredibly beautiful, serene places for mushrooms and slime molds—we do it for people, too!”
 

Douglas McMullin

Douglas McMullin

Douglas takes care of conserved lands on Mount Desert Island and islands in MDI towns, and the Cranberry Isles and Frenchboro Long Island preserve. Working in an area that sees millions of visitors every year, he works in close partnership with Friends of Acadia and other local organizations.

“I love exploring Maine’s islands and coastline. People have been doing so for hundreds of years, but over the past several decades more private lands are being cut off to the public. Conservation makes sure we’re balancing land development with public use and access, and it’s work I’m proud to be a part of.”
 

To maintain open habitat for nesting seabirds, MCHT oversaw a controlled burn on Calderwood Island.

Deirdre Whitehead

Deirdre Whitehead

Deirdre takes care of conserved land on the north side of Cobscook Bay along the Washington County coast, including islands. Water access and other community work is especially important in this Passamaquoddy homeland because of a natural resource-based economy as well as many archaeological and cultural resources.

“Many of the preserves I manage are places that were once important to the Passamaquoddy Tribe. To hear from a young Passamaquoddy Tribal member that to be on the land allows the Tribal legends and stories from that place to be alive in the 21st century is very meaningful. I go to sleep at night knowing that this will be so for the future generations.”
 

Melissa Lee

Melissa Lee

Melissa has worked for Maine Coast Heritage Trust since 1999, living in the middle of her Washington County region, where she stewards properties in Cutler, Edmunds, Lubec, Trescott, and Whiting. All told, she takes care of about 7,000 acres! She finds the Bold Coast, where she works and lives, an inspiration every day.

“I used to believe that the natural limits of the land would dictate how the land got used. But I have learned that people can work around them. Land and silence and the peace of the woods and the water are healing and restorative in an ever-crazier world. Conserved lands help us help ourselves.”
 

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