Forests and Lakes – For People – Forever ®

The Treasured Biodiversity of Downeast Maine

January 6, 2020

Purple blooms blanket the greenery of the Downeast Lakes region.

In October, Downeast Lakes Land Trust welcomed Scott Aker, Head of Horticulture at the US National Arboretum, for a visit to the community forest to learn about DLLT’s native plant species conservation work. During his tour with DLLT President and CEO David Montague, the two discussed the importance of fostering native plant species for the long-term benefit of natural communities. 

These native species are the basis of DLLT’s new project to support insect pollinators in the old Billy Brown Field, located off Little River Road. DLLT is partnering with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Services to establish patches of flowering native species to support insect pollinators in the Downeast Lakes region such as monarch butterflies and rusty-patch bumblebees. These species are valuable for pollinating food crops like wild Maine blueberries, but they also serve a vital role as pollinators of forest plants including willows, cherries, naturalized apple trees, and many species of wildflower.  In addition, many insect pollinators play vital roles in local food webs, providing nourishment for birds, fish, and mammals.

Mr. Aker was excited to see the work that DLLT has accomplished, and to visit several other organizations throughout Maine. These connections will allow him to take native biodiversity information from Maine back to the US National Arboretum, where the Downeast Lakes region will be recognized for its contribution to conservation. 

DLLT was inspired by Mr. Aker’s visit to create a brand new Downeast Lakes region arboretum on the grounds of our new headquarters. This arboretum will serve as a tool for DLLT to share information about the native Downeast Lakes species and how they have created the landscape that we see today. Both woody and herbaceous species will be featured along with information about how they are used by the indigenous people to create medicines, tools, and baskets. These same species were later used by settlers, guides, and fishermen to survive in the unforgiving Maine woods. The display of human-landscape interactions over the last five-hundred years will allow our arboretum to become a place of heritage and plant biodiversity. 

If you would like to donate time or services to the new DLLT arboretum please call our office at 207-796-2100. If you would like more information about the US National Arboretum you can visit their website at