October 7, 2016

Windham Land Trust joins with two conservation groups - By Walter Lunt

Three local land conservation groups are now one. At a joint meeting this week of the Windham Land Trust, the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and the Presumpscot River Watch each voted unanimously to merge. The new organization will take the name of its largest member, the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust.

Following the meeting, Windham Land Trust co-president Priscilla Payne said that the over 100 members in attendance applauded the action enthusiastically.

“It’s a really great fit,” said Payne. “We’ll have a bigger impact on land conservation in the area. We’ll have more volunteers and a stronger fundraising base.”

The new organization will now oversee approximately 1,400 protected acres in six towns. The Windham Land Trust contributes over 200 acres with protective holdings and easements in Windham, including the Black Brook Preserve, in Gorham and in Gray. The PRLT now manages properties in Windham, Gorham, Westbrook, Standish, Gray and Sebago, including 25 conserved lands and 10 public access points.

The merger was finalized at a joint meeting Sunday at Randall Orchards in Standish, one of the organization’s largest conservation easement properties.

Payne said the merger will enable PRLT to combine the strengths of all three trusts in promoting its primary mission of land stewardship and education. All are engaged and passionate about building and maintaining safe and appealing nature trails, public access, water monitoring, wildlife study, protection and education. One recent project launched by the Windham Trust involves the re-establishment of the American chestnut tree (see companion story). PRLT also assists in the development of the 28-mile Sebago to the Sea Project. Payne added that future goals may include seeking easements on farm land, thus enabling agricultural pursuits to continue on certain lands in perpetuity. 

Payne described the landmark union as a “merger of equals.” Under PRLT by-laws, the three combined organizations will have coequal representation on a board of directors.

Black Brook sign pictures: (former) Windham Land Trust co-presidents Priscilla Payne and Dennis Hawkes with member David Stover on site at Black Brook Prese

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