On a recent winter afternoon in the Presumpscot River Preserve near the falls, Daniel Bishop (Portland Trails’ Trail Steward & Volunteer Coordinator) and Sami Wolf (Falmouth Land Trust’s Stewardship Coordinator) formally marked the boundary between the two land trusts by hammering stakes into the ground. The trail runs seamlessly through both properties, but this boundary distinction is key to a cooperative relationship between both land trusts. Falmouth Land Trust has plans to work with Portland Trails to “address trail layout in response to water-related climate change,” says Sami. “We know it’s an amazing public resource to come down and enjoy a vista like this,” she says, referring to the roaring waterfall behind her. Falmouth Land Trust seeks to keep the conservation value of the land high while still maintaining the trail. “We want it all!”
This type of collaboration is the foundation for a new series of meetups between stewards of Southern Maine land trusts.
This time of the year, “99% of the time, I’m alone,” says Daniel. “Sometimes that’s very lovely. I have two small children and I love them dearly, but it can be nice to have some quiet.” However, this solitude can sometimes leave him with questions he can’t answer on his own. “A number of us met at a few state-level stewardship meetings, and we recognized that in Southern Maine, we have an opportunity to collaborate to talk through issues and discuss problems,” he says.
At the most recent meetup in January, stewards from regional land trusts gathered at Fore River Sanctuary for a walk and talk. “As we’d be walking, someone would say, ‘I see you did this with the trail. Why?’ And then we would talk through that,” says Daniel. Because Portland Trails is an urban land trust focused on creating a transportation network of trails, the organization has a very different perspective than the land trusts focused primarily on conservation. But these differences can be an asset in a group like this. “They’re doing stewardship in a way that we aren’t. How can we move toward that?” says Daniel. Likewise, Daniel is happy to share advice about creating a trail network and building bridges with his colleagues.
These meetups also provide a space to discuss solutions to much larger questions, like climate change. “Me doing stewardship on my parcel here doesn’t affect climate change as a very large-scale problem, but collaboratively we can have a greater effect,” says Daniel.
This group of stewards aims to meet monthly or bimonthly, depending on each steward’s availability. Trail-users and nature-lovers can rest assured that the trails and conserved spaces across Southern Maine are in good hands.