Fourteen landowners in the Belgrade Lakes watershed who partnered with 7 Lakes Alliance in placing 2,149 acres into conservation were honored at the organization’s annual Summer Celebration July 17.
The land acquisitions involved a mix of purchases, donations and conservation easements, all of which have been completed since 7 Lakes’ formation in 2017. The property owners join a long list of legacy property owners who worked with the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, 7 Lakes’ predecessor, in jointly conserving more than 11,000 acres, including the Kennebec Highlands. That represents about 10 percent of the Belgrade Lakes watershed – the land mass that drains into the seven lakes (East, North, McGrath, Long and Great ponds, and Salmon and Messalonskee lakes) and the tributaries that feed them.
7 Lakes Alliance has set a goal of placing 30 percent of the watershed into conservation.
Land conservation is a critical component of preserving and restoring lake water quality. Erosion caused by development represents a threat to lake water quality. Dirt that washes into streams and lakes carries phosphorus, the nutrient that feeds algae blooms.
Natural lands act as a buffer to erosion into waterbodies and a sponge for stormwater.
The landowners honored at the Summer Celebration were:
· Roy Allen and the George C. Allen Trust, who sold 813 acres in the Kennebec Highlands, including Vienna Mountain’s blueberry fields, to the State and to 7 Lakes.
· Dwight Allison’s family, who donated a 211-acre conservation easement that protects Little North Pond’s water quality and will yield new hiking trails.
· Cindy and Steve Eccher, who donated a scenic 83-acre conservation easement that protects 3,700 feet of East Pond shoreline and water quality in the lake.
· Michael and Cindi Langton, who sold 4 acres that protect 600 feet of Whittier Pond shoreline and water quality in Long Pond while expanding the French Mountain preserve.
· Alex and Kathi Wall, who donated a 94-acre conservation easement on one of Belgrade’s oldest farms, protecting valuable farmland, 10 acres of wetlands, and water quality in Great Pond and Belgrade Stream.
· Bill and Joan Witkin, who donated 48 acres on Hoyt Island that protect 4,800 feet of shoreline, scenic views and water quality in Great Pond.
· Roger and Elaine Karabin, who donated 101 acres on Ingham Pond and Ingham Stream, protecting 6,400 feet of shoreline, scenic views and water quality in Long Pond while expanding the Fogg Island preserve.
· The Osada family, who sold 105 acres that will protect 48 acres of wetlands and a 1-acre kettle pond, along with water quality in Long Pond, while growing the Fogg Island preserve.
· Hillary and Peter Schultz, who donated a 218-acre conservation easement that protects valuable farmland and water quality in Great Pond, and will provide trails that link The Mountain preserve to the Blaisdell property.
· The Blaisdell family, who sold 119 acres that will protect water quality in Great Pond and provide hiking trails that link Quill Hill Farm and The Mountain preserve.
· Virginia Hunter, who donated 205 acres that protect 46 acres of wetlands, Pattee Brook and water quality in North Pond. The property will also provide recreational trails.
· Denny and Sandy Phillips, who donated conservation easements on two properties: 147 acres at their residence and 1 acre on Watson Pond. The acreage will protect water quality in Whittier Pond and Long Pond, and provide trails.
· Warren and Helen Balgooyen donated a 110-acre conservation easement, adding to previously donated easements of 297 acres, while protecting water quality in East Pond, North Pond and Sandy River.
· Matt Scott donated a 96-acre conservation easement that protects valuable farmland along with water quality in Great Pond and Belgrade Stream.
These lands provide a variety of other public benefits including wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. Most are NOT open to the public at this time. Please contact 7 Lakes Alliance to learn which ones are.