On Saturday, June 24th, Downeast Lakes Land Trust (DLLT) was thrilled to host an exciting workshop, titled “Community Forests – Forests For People” in Grand Lake Stream. Organized by the Downeast Conservation Network (formerly DEREN), DLLT, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Northern Forest Center, and funded by the Jessie B. Cox Foundation, the day-long program focused on the successes and challenges of creating and managing the Downeast Lakes Community Forest. The program was part of a series of “Downeast Dialogues,” organized by the Downeast Conservation Network.
Anica Miller-Rushing, Downeast Conservation Network Coordinator, welcomed everyone with opening remarks, and discussed the schedule of events. DLLT Executive Director David Montague kicked off the program with an overview and history of the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, followed by a panel discussion that featured three DLLT Board Members. Louis Cataldo, Lindsay Wheaton, and Lee Whitely all gave an in-depth look at the initial founding of the trust, the community vision of the land, and the benefits of forming a community forest. Following a short break, Northern Forest Center’s Julie Renaud Evans gave a presentation on the community forest model, citing several examples of other community forests, and describing the challenges facing small communities in Northern New England.
As the morning rains moved out and the skies cleared, participants piled into boats operated by local volunteers, and headed up West Grand Lake to get a sweeping view of the Downeast Lakes conservation landscape. Following a picnic lunch, a bus tour of the Downeast Lakes Community Forest highlighted the many aspects of DLLT’s work, including sustainable timber harvests, stream habitat restoration, partnerships with local ATV and snowmobile clubs, education programs, and community uses.
“We were thrilled to host this group of successful, talented land conservationists in Grand Lake Stream,” said DLLT Executive Director David Montague. “There is a lot of great work in community forestry in Maine, and throughout New England. Having the chance to share DLLT’s experience and learn from others was invaluable, and we are so grateful to the Downeast Conservation Network and the Jessie B. Cox Foundation for providing this opportunity.”
Downeast Lakes Land Trust thanks all of the supporters and volunteers who made this unique program possible. The work happening locally in Grand Lake Stream is inspiring others to create or improve their own community forests, build and strengthen community relationships, and promote sustainable land stewardship.