Downeast Lakes Land Trust feels a continuing debt of gratitude to every supporter and partner that has helped us accomplish so much for the future of Grand Lake Stream and the region. Although our work is far from done, in 2010 we sought a new way to acknowledge individuals who have made exceptional efforts in support of Downeast Lakes conservation.
We present the Downeast Lakes Conservation Award to honor those who have made extraordinary contributions toward the long-term economic and environmental well-being of the Downeast Lakes Region of Maine.
A passionate outdoorsman, Lee Whitely has long-standing ties to the Downeast Lakes region, first coming to the area decades ago to hunt, fish, forage, and enjoy the peace and quiet of his Fourth Machias Lake camp. After his retirement as President of the Technical Papers Division and Director General of the Axhom Division of Lydall, Inc., Lee moved to Grand Lake Stream, and became involved in the early years of the formation of Downeast Lakes Land Trust. A Registered Maine Guide, Lee served on the Leadership Committee of the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership, DLLT’s Forestry, Wildlife, Finance, and Governance Committees, and most recently, served for several years as DLLT’s Board Vice President.
Grand Lake Stream ATV Club & Grand Lake Snowmobile Club
Whether improving trails, building public recreational access points, hosting work days, or holding outreach events, these all-volunteer led clubs work with numerous local landowners to improve motorized recreation in the Downeast Lakes region. With more than 84 miles of maintained trail, the GLS ATV Club works tirelessly in the spring, summer, and fall months to ensure a safe and fun experience for all riders. When the snow starts to fly, the Grand Lake Snowmobile Club grooms many miles of trail in the Downeast Lakes Community Forest and beyond on the Maine ITS system, and opens up their clubhouse along Marion’s Trail to cold and hungry riders for a cup of coffee, bowl of soup, and trail stories to swap. Without the hard work of these tireless volunteers, recreational life in and around Grand Lake Stream would not be the same.
One of the founders of the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, Louie served energetically on the Board of Directors for more than seventeen years. Born and raised in Grand Lake Stream, Louie returned home following service in the United States Navy. He became a Registered Maine Guide in 1977 and he owned and managed numerous local businesses. During his time as the First Selectman (or as he was admiringly called “the mayor”) of Grand Lake Stream, Louie facilitated numerous collaborations with DLLT. He led the community to rally around local conservation efforts, which will benefit the Downeast region for many years to come. An outspoken advocate for local fish and wildlife populations, Louie served many years as the chair of DLLT’s Fish and Wildlife Habitat Subcommittee, where he spearheaded numerous initiatives to enhance habitat for such species as white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, and eastern brook trout. In 2018, Louie relocated to Wiscasset, Maine, to be closer to family and fulfill his long-held dream of opening a small business, Wicked Good Treasures, along Route 1. While his many friends are happy for his success, Louie’s presence in Grand Lake Stream is, and will be, dearly missed.
John “Jake” Lea has lifelong ties to the Grand Lake Stream area and has been an instrumental force for the work of DLLT since its inception in 2001. He first served as the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership (DLFP) leadership committee chair, which led to the conservation of more than 340,000 acres in the region and the DLLT purchase of 27,000 acres for the creation of what would become the Downeast Lakes Community Forest. Jake played a key role in negotiating and guiding this partnership between DLLT and the New England Forestry Foundation, which raised more than $30 million dollars for conservation in our region. After the success of the DLFP, Jake served on the fundraising committee for the subsequent Wabassus Lake Project and co chaired the West Grand Lake Community Forest Project.
Karin Tilberg is a former DLLT Board Member, and a longtime supporter and champion of conservation in Maine. Karin’s expertise was crucial to the early success of DLLT. During the formation of DLLT, she offered invaluable advice that helped to frame DLLT’s goals and vision for the conservation of the Downeast Lakes region. With her experience and input, DLLT and partners launched the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership, resulting in the conservation of over 340,000 acres in 2008. Karin continues her work in land conservation in Maine, and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Forest Society of Maine.
Elmina B. Sewall Foundation
Founded by the late Elmina B. Sewall in 1982, the Sewall Foundation supports work in Maine to improve the well-being of people, animals and the environment while fostering relationships that strive for social equity and community resilience. The Sewall Foundation has provided critical support to several DLLT capital campaigns, including the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership, the Wabassus Lake Project, and the West Grand Lake Community Forest Project. The foundation also provided generous support for the creation of DLLT’s Forest Management Plan, a document that is critical to DLLT’s sustainable forestry program.
“We are especially grateful to Sewall’s Executive Director, Jay Espy, who has long been our friend in every possible meaning of that term, freely granting us counsel, encouragement, and goodwill at every turn,” said DLLT Board President Sydney Lea. “He has long been as reliable and obliging a mentor as any institution could ever desire.”
Mark Berry served as the Executive Director of the Downeast Lakes Land Trust from 2006 – 2014. Mark oversaw the purchase of the 6,700-acre Wabassus Lake Tract and helped to launch the West Grand Lake Community Forest Project. For eight years, Mark devoted himself wholeheartedly to DLLT’s mission. He led DLLT with professionalism and dedication, and his guidance and hard work left the Trust in a strong position for many years to come.
Neil H. “Pete” Borden
A force from the day the organization was conceived, the Downeast Lakes Land Trust would never have developed as it has without the able counsel and guidance of Pete Borden. Drawing on his many years of experience in business management, Mr. Borden researched the needs of the community and tailored the trust’s existence as a non-profit business entity with the region’s best economic interests at heart. As a former board member, he designed and supervised the Land Trust’s first study of the potential for development in Washington County. Pete fell in love with the area as a very young boy, summering in Grand Lake Stream with his grandfather. His passion for the Downeast Lakes region has left both a lasting impression on the residents of Grand Lake Stream and an indelible mark on the successes of the Downeast Lakes Land Trust.
The People of Grand Lake Stream
Downeast Lakes Land Trust was particularly pleased to honor all of the people of Grand Lake Stream for their essential support of Downeast Lakes Land Trust and their long-standing commitment to work for the conservation of the natural resources that are so important to the community. From long before the trust existed, local people have been stewards for their natural resources. As one signal of the remarkable breadth of local support, in 2008 residents voted unanimously to contribute $40,000 to the trust for the West Grand Lake Community Forest Project. This support from the community helped make every other grant and contribution possible. The people of Grand Lake Stream continue to dedicate their energies and their contributions to conserve the places that sustain the community, its quality of life, and its economy.
Thomas E. Curren
Through his leadership of the Northeast Land Trust Consortium, a program of The Pew Charitable Trusts, Tom played an instrumental role in the success of each of Downeast Lakes Land Trust’s conservation projects, from the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership, the Wabassus Lake Project, and the West Grand Lake Community Forest Project. Tom’s involvement led to 20% matching grants, and increased credibility through the involvement of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a highly respected philanthropic organization. In total, over $5 million has come to Downeast conservation projects through Tom’s efforts, including nearly $850,000 contributed directly as 20% matching grants associated with donations from individuals and foundations.
Senator Olympia J. Snowe
Senator Snowe served as an Honorary Co-chair of the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership, Wabassus Lake Project, and West Grand Lake Community Forest Project.
“It is a profound honor to be awarded the prestigious Downeast Lakes Conservation Award. Maine’s iconic and unparalleled natural beauty is preserved through stalwart advocates including the staff and volunteers at Downeast Lakes Land Trust and the critical federal assistance received through the Forest Legacy Program,” said U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe. “Maine is fortunate to have such willing partners for our state’s future and this tremendous work will further serve as a template for protecting our local economy and preserving our natural resources.”
Senator Susan M. Collins
Senator Collins served as an Honorary Co-chair of the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership, Wabassus Lake Project, and West Grand Lake Community Forest Project.
“I am truly honored to be a 2011 recipient of the Downeast Lakes Conservation Award. Maine is a state that is blessed with natural gifts, from our pure lakes to our majestic forests, our scenery is unrivaled. The people of Maine know that these gifts are not to be taken for granted, but must be cherished, nurtured, and protected. The environment in which I grew up is why I do all that I can to support conservation efforts like the West Grand Lake Community Forest Project,” said Senator Collins.
Representative Michael H. Michaud
Representative Michaud has served as an Honorary Co-chair of the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership, Wabassus Lake Project, and West Grand Lake Community Forest Project.
“The West Grand project is a shining example of the outstanding land conservation efforts going on across Maine to maintain our working forest landscapes and traditional recreational uses,” said Congressman Michaud. “I want to thank the Downeast Lakes Land trust for this honor and their commitment to conservation.”
Representative Chellie Pingree
Representative Pingree served as an Honorary Co-chair of the West Grand Lake Community Forest Project.
All four members of Maine’s 2011 Congressional delegation supported funding for the Forest Legacy Programs and other important conservation programs for Maine.
Steve dedicated years of his life, and his extraordinary energies, to ensuring the Downeast Lakes Land Trust and the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership would succeed. He traded a part-year residence in Grand Lake Stream for a more than full-time commitment to this effort. He was involved with the effort from its very beginnings as an idea that “we need to do something” to the creation of Downeast Lakes Land Trust, and he served on the Board and as DLLT’s first Executive Director until 2006. During that time, he helped lead the land trust to become a respected and professional organization, and to the successful acquisition of the Farm Cove Community Forest.
Bill Curran’s role in the success of the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership was of incredible importance. Bill is a dedicated conservationist and a leading supporter of land conservation in Maine. As a trusted advisor to Elmina B. Sewall, Bill made possible the largest private gift received by the Forestry Partnership – without which, it is extremely difficult to see how the project could have succeeded. Bill helped Mrs. Sewall understand the importance of land conservation and the unique opportunity reflected in the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership. Mrs. Sewall was very gratified to learn from Bill during her final days that the project would succeed. Bill serves as Treasurer of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation.
When DLLT was a brand new nonprofit in 2001 and met with Wagner Timberlands to suggest purchasing a big community forest west of Grand Lake Stream, Wagner politely suggested we needed help. They were right. The New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) had just completed the Pingree conservation easement in western Maine, and had a forest conservation mission compatible with DLLT’s goals. Through a long, productive, and at times challenging partnership with NEFF, Tim was a reliable leader and a strong supporter of the project. When the partners needed to close on the land and easements, but were still several million dollars short, he led NEFF to the extraordinary action of mortgaging one of their conservation properties in Massachusetts to secure the needed cash. He was instrumental in completing the capital campaign, and has remained a strong supporter of DLLT.
Bayard served with Tim on the Board of the New England Forestry Foundation, and on the leadership committee for the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership. When the campaign was in its final stages, with the land already purchased, and some donors less eager to help with the important task of paying for it, Bayard made a personal commitment to match contributions. He brought new energy to the campaign, inspired supporters to complete the campaign, and made great personal contributions. Without his leadership and inspiration, it would have been extraordinarily difficult to complete the job.
Downeast Lakes Land Trust has received the following awards and honors: