Fayette event to mark Kennebec Land Trust 25th anniversary

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Kennebec Land Trust will celebrate its silver anniversary with an outdoor fete, nature workshops, triathalon, annual meeting and music on Aug. 24.

The organization, which is based in Winthrop, has conserved 4,860 acres, completed 32 miles of trails and worked in 21 communities in central Maine in those 25 years, according to executive director Theresa Kerchner.

“We have 900 members to date, and our goal is to have 1,000 members by December,” Kerchner said. The group is hoping many community members will join in the celebration and learn about the nonprofit group, whose mission is to “work with land owners and communities to conserve the forests, shorelands, fields and wildlife that define central Maine.”

The celebration will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Camp Winnebago, on Route 17 in Fayette, and will include a Tri-Sport Challenge, potluck lunch and music by the Gawler Family Band. There is a $15 fee for those over age 12, which covers food, with a maximum $37 fee per family.

The 9-11 a.m. sports event is a quarter-mile swim, half-mile paddle and 5-kilometer run at the camp.

“It’s a beautiful setting, and people will be able to enjoy camp facilities, swim, canoe and enjoy trails and waterfront,” Kerchner said. “It’s just going to be a tremendous day.”

The event also is being organized as a reunion for the organization’s past officers and interns. Eighteen interns from 15 colleges have worked with the group over its 25 years. The current summer intern is Selena Bachelder, of Readfield, a senior at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., who is working on several projects, including invasive plant research.

She also is coordinating reservations for the anniversary celebration, which can be made through the organization’s website at www.tklt.org.

In connection with the celebration, the land trust has organized a two-day Wilderness First Aid course Aug. 22-23 at Camp Mechuwana, in Winthrop. Enrollment in that filled almost immediately, Kerchner said.

As part of its 25th anniversary celebration, the organization is launching its first hiking guide to the 20 most popular properties, offering the book at $15 first at the annual meeting and later in area bookstores and businesses.

“It’s a guide that people are going to find particularly useful,” Kerchner said. She said the book, in which area businesses sponsor pages, offers maps and directions as well as a way to add pages when the trust adds properties later.

The group is trying to complete a number of projects this year, including Howard Hill in Augusta, which is a 164-acre woodlot that can be seen behind the capitol dome; and 65 acres in Fayette linking Parker and David ponds. The organization also is adding acreage to the Mount Pisgah Conservation Area in Winthrop.

Next spring, the group hopes to open to the public some trails on a 72-acre parcel on Trask Road in Vienna.

It is working with Jim and Muffy Floyd, the property owners, on an easement for the land, which offers views of the western mountains and Vienna hills and includes wetlands, a vernal pool and a mix of hardwoods.

“It’s a special piece of property,” Muffy Floyd said Saturday. “We knew we wanted to do something to protect it long-term.” The Floyds bought 32 acres in 1993, built their house in 2002 and added 40 acres in 2005.

She said they thought about including provisions in their will and decided to talk to the Kennebec Land Trust, which resulted in the plan for the easement.

“There’s no disadvantage to us or to anybody to doing it now,” Floyd said, “and we can enjoy other people enjoying it as well.”

The land trust is also organizing a Local Wood WORKS! initiative, a conference Nov. 14-15 at the Augusta Civic Center. The event is billed as “an opportunity for landowners, foresters, loggers, processors, wood-based businesses, state agencies, conservation organizations, artisans, students, and forest and wood products enthusiasts to connect, learn and propel Maine’s local wood economy into a sustainable future.”

Kerchner said the Kennebec Land Trust is trying to build on the local food movement and showcase opportunities to enhance the region’s forest products industries.

“You can’t have successful wood products without a forest,” she said.