Since 2004, the L.L.Bean Maine Land Trust Grant Program has provided strategic funding for activities that protect Maine’s outdoor heritage and natural landscapes, with a focus on projects that enhance public access to conserved lands, strengthen a trust’s stewardship capabilities, or facilitate preserve management planning. The grant program, which is administered by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, announced in December that six organizations would be receiving a total of $22,750, with the bulk of this year’s funds being directed to trail expansion.
One recipient, Damariscotta River Association (DRA), is especially focused on developing trails for seniors and persons with disabilities. “At our Salt Bay Preserve, accommodations for persons less able have been needed for some time due to the property’s community significance and its stunning vistas,” explains DRA Executive Director Steven Hufnagel. “This is the centerpiece of our ‘Trails and Access for Everyone’ project, a project we are excited to share with local senior facilities and others in the region to build awareness for the new amenities as they are developed.”
The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust (PRLT) has set its sights on increasing public access to a unique natural area in the greater Portland area. They will be investing their L.L.Bean Land Trust Grant in the development of a new 2-mile loop trail near the banks of Mill Brook. “Mill Brook is a treasure within the Presumpscot watershed because, among other things, after a hundred-year absence alewives have recently been able to return,” shares PRLT Executive Director Rachelle Curran Apse. “Minutes from the state’s largest metropolitan area, this preserve offers a perfect location for a quiet recreational trail through the woods, picnicking for families, winter snowshoeing, and the chance to enjoy up to 50,000 migrating alewives.”
As part of the Waldo County Trails Coalition, the Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance has embarked on an effort dubbed the “Hills to Sea Trail.” When completed, this new path—connecting existing and new routes—will meander more than 40 miles from Unity to Belfast. This year, they will be using L.L.Bean Land Trust Grant funds to build infrastructure along the corridor, including: signs, kiosks, parking areas, bike racks, and bog bridging. The project’s long term vision is to “have a network of trails throughout Waldo County and beyond that connects communities, watersheds, schools, farms, and businesses.”
MCHT and Maine’s local land trust community are grateful for L.L. Bean’s generosity in helping to improve public access to conserved lands. A complete list of this year’s L.L.Bean Land Trust Grant Program recipients can be found here.