The Maine Woods

A Publication of the Forest Ecology Network

 Volume Five     Number Two                           Late Fall 2001

A Recipe For Land Protection -

Ingredients For Success in the Kennebec Highlands

by Warren Balgooyen


 View of the Kennebec Highlands over Long Pond. Photo by Fox Photography Studios.
The sign of a good cook is one who can put together something extraordinary using good resources and materials at hand. A gifted cook employs vision, creativity, flexibility, and confidence in the achievement of one's goal. By such measures, the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (BRCA) has cooked up a treasure that will feed our souls. They have converted a perishable resource, 5,800 acres of undeveloped Maine forestland, into a nonperishable public resource; soul food for future generations. They have called their creation the Kennebec Highlands. Here is their special recipe:


LOCATE nearly 6000 acres of highly perishable Maine forest land and alert 19 landowners having ownership in the project area to its conservation value.
PREPARE a good map of the project area including prominent physical features and town and county lines.
ADD three mountains, five pristine ponds, two shrub wetlands, two beaver ponds, a collection of photographs and slides, and a pinch of rare plants.
MARINATE for ten years. Pioneer chef John Schooley conceived this project back in 1988. His vision as first president of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance was ahead of its time.
STIR AND REACTIVATE in 1998 with master chef Denny Phillips, current president of BRCA and devotee of land protection. (Under John Schooley's and Denny Phillips' care BRCA grew in these years into a full fledged land trust and protector of regional water quality in the Belgrade Lakes Watershed, nurturing several environmental projects.)
BLEND IN using the tool of conservation easements along with the offer of fee purchase, and 20 dedicated volunteers who put in countless hours meeting with landowners, town selectmen, and attending BRCA committee meetings.
ADD a broad base of public support and a sponsoring state agency, the Maine Department of Conservation.
MIX IN the expertise of proficient fund raisers, a few philanthropic, generous individuals, and some solid grant proposals.
INCLUDE a large, $1.8 million measure of state (public) support through the Land For Maine's Future Program and some strong foundation support.
SAUTE the above with two vital short term loans that enabled a purchase option deadline to be met for the largest core parcel of the project ($750,000 from the Kennebec Savings Bank, $250,00 from the Norcross Wildlife Foundation).
COMBINE all ingredients and cook well (under high pressure but low heat) for three years.
SEASON with a final request for public contributions to complete financial goal and assure preservation.
REMOVE FROM HEAT and set aside in parcels, one at a time.
SERVE UP on a conservation platter that is distinctive and exemplary in central Maine.
ENJOY AND CELEBRATE with the BRCA volunteers, the donors, and the 19 conservation minded, visionary landowners who made it all possible. Together they have cooked up one of the finest land conservation achievements in our state, for present and future generations to enjoy.

To learn more about this exemplary conservation cuisine, visit the BRCA web site at or phone 207-397-5945.

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P.O. Box 2118, Augusta, Maine 04338
phone: 207-628-6404
fax - 207-628-5741

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