Today is my last day here in Grand Lake Stream, and it’s hard to believe eight weeks of summer went by so fast. I have been lucky to spend this summer as an intern for the Land Trust. Though I was familiar with the Land Trust before this summer thanks to GLS visits with my family, the past eight weeks have provided me with an incredible opportunity to learn and experience what goes into a community-based conservation effort, and what the Land Trust is all about.
Throughout the summer, I was involved with different projects spanning from trail maintenance to coordinating aquatic habitat projects. I also had the pleasure of organizing the two annual races, the Fourth of July race and the West Grand Lake canoe race. Having participated in both these events in past years, it was fun to be a part of the planning. I also attended and helped at the education programs the land trust hosted, which are part of the Land Trust’s effort to serve the community. I spent many days out and about in the woods, and whether it was spent in the woods with Kyle Burdick, the forester for the Farm Cove Community Forest, or doing maintenance on the Downeast Lakes Water Trail campsites, each experience allowed me to gain an appreciation for the spectacular lakes and forests of the region, and the work that goes into maintaining them. When I rode along for the annual audit for the Forest Stewardship Council, I learned about the standards the Land Trust maintains, and often exceeds, in their management of the Farm Cove Community Forest. Having known relatively little about timber harvesting, it was great to learn how sustainable timber management fits so well into the land trust’s vision for the Community Forest. Another highlight was hiking over Pineo Mountain with the staff of the Maine Natural Areas Program, who were here to do field surveys. That section of the woods will be part of the West Grand Lake Community Forest, and I enjoyed exploring them, scouting out potential hiking trails, and learning plant identification tips from the MNAP folks, who were experts on Maine’s forest flora.
Week after week I felt both warmly welcomed and truly impressed by the many community members that help to carry out the Land Trust’s work. To see so many people working together toward the same vision- the long term protection for the region’s extraordinary resources and way of life- is very inspiring. The Land Trust’s mission is to contribute to the environmental and economic well-being of the region, and in a place like Grand Lake Steam, these two are inevitably interrelated. As I became familiar with the lakes, streams, and forests, it was equally engaging to immerse myself in the unique community, and realize it can be the way it is because of the resources surrounding it. I know the experiences I had this summer will stay with me forever. I too feel the sense stewardship of the land that the Land Trust embodies, and I look forward to letting it guide me in my future conservation and environmental work.