A Recipe For Land Protection -
Ingredients For Success in the
by Warren Balgooyen
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
View of the Kennebec Highlands over Long Pond.
Photo by Fox Photography Studios.
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
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
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 www.KennnebecHighlands.org
or phone 207-397-5945.