Sustainable Forestry Education Program
Kennebec Land Trust Annual Sustainable Forestry Education Program
Theresa Kerchner, Kennebec Land Trust, Executive Director
Since 2009, more than a thousand central Maine students, parents, and teachers have learned about sustainable forestry at the Kennebec Land Trust’s annual educational program at the 360-acre Curtis Homestead Conservation Area in Leeds. Field presentations focus on forest stewardship, sustainable forestry, careers in forestry, and wildlife habitat. KLT staff, Leeds logger Nat Bell, his father and sawyer Bruce Bell, Maine Forest Service District Forester Shane Duigan, and natural science educator Lisa Kane of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife lead the presentations.
KLT’s Curtis Homestead twenty-acre demonstration forest is ideal for a stand improvement education program, since this area was hayland until at least the 1940’s. After the Curtis family fields were abandoned, this land reverted to white pine, white and grey birch, cherry, and red maple. Many of the trees that grew in the former farm fields, especially the white pines, became crowded, diseased, and crooked.
History: Farm to Forest
The Curtis Homestead was settled in the early 1800’s and remained in the Curtis family until 2000 when former Maine Governor Kenneth Curtis and his sister, Rebecca, donated 360 acres to the Kennebec Land Trust. The last of a long line of Curtis farmers, Ken’s parents raised a few dairy and beef cows and chickens, grew corn and beans for the Leeds cannery, and selectively harvested wood from their woodlot.
Soon after the Trust acquired this property, Harold Burnett of Two Trees Forestry wrote a forest management plan for the Homestead, which highlighted current timber harvesting opportunities as well as historical land use practices. Several years later, neighbor and logger Nat Bell asked KLT if they would consider a community demonstration forestry program for school children and their parents.
KLT offers many years around conservation educational field events for children and adults but the Curtis Homestead forestry program is one of our most successful initiatives. As with all efforts like this, teacher and community engagement, volunteer commitment, and staff support are central to our success story. The following individuals and organizations generously contribute time and resources for KLT's annual forestry program:
Nat Bell, Logger, Leed
Bruce Bell, Sawyer, Leeds
Lisa Kane, Wildlife Educator, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Shane Duigan, Maine Forest Service District Forester
Harold Burnett, Two Trees Forestry, Winthrop
Maine Master Naturalist Volunteers
KLT’s Curtis Homestead is open to the public year around and has over three miles of trails for hiking, cross country skiing, and hunting. Interpretive signs at trailheads explain KLT’s forestry and property management goals.