Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust earns national recognition

Maine’s Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust – which has conserved more than 4,500 acres in Hancock County – is one of 25 land trusts nationwide to be awarded first-time accreditation this month from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, according to a recent press release.

Courtesy of Hans Krichels. To visitors enjoy the Great Pond Mountain Wildlands in Orland on horseback.

Courtesy of Hans Krichels. To visitors enjoy the Great Pond Mountain Wildlands in Orland on horseback.

Accredited land trusts are authorized to display a seal indicating to the public that they meet national standards for excellence, uphold the public trust and ensure that conservation efforts are permanent. The seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation.

“We are thrilled to be recognized for our commitment to conserving amazing local places for people and wildlife,” said GPMCT Executive Director Cheri Domina in the press release. “The accreditation process took us three years of hard work, and it’s made us a more mature organization—prepared to care for our holdings and serve the community far into the future.”

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, has awarded this accreditation to only 280 land trusts across the country since fall of 2008. The commission is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts from across the country.

Courtesy of Cheri Domina. View from Great Pond Mountain.

Courtesy of Cheri Domina. View from Great Pond Mountain.

“The 280 accredited land trusts account for over half of the 20,645,165 acres currently owned in fee or protected by a conservation easement held by a land trust,” said Commission Executive Director Tammara Van Ryn in the press release.

GPMCT was founded in 1993 by Orland native Stuart Gross and a group of local residents with the mission to conserve land on and around Great Pond Mountain in Orland. Today, the trust owns and manages the 4,500-acre Great Pond Mountain Wildlands for wildlife habitat, recreation and sustainable forestry, as well as 30 acres in Bucksport. And the trust manages conservation easements in Orland and Dedham.

Here are a few videos of hiking trails to explore in the Wildlands, which is located in Orland:

To earn accreditation, GPMCT submitted extensive documentation and underwent a rigorous review.

Courtesy of Emily Hawkins. A family enjoys the view from the Bump Hill Summit in Great Pond Mountain Wildlands in Orland.

Courtesy of Emily Hawkins. A family enjoys the view from the Bump Hill Summit in Great Pond Mountain Wildlands in Orland.

“Accredited organizations have engaged and trained citizen conservation leaders and improved systems for ensuring that their conservation work is permanent”, said Van Ryn.

According to the Land Trust Alliance, conserving land helps ensure clean air and drinking water; safe, healthy food; scenic landscapes and views; recreational places; and habitat for the diversity of life on earth. In addition to health and food benefits, conserving land increases property values near greenbelts, saves tax dollars by encouraging more efficient development, and reduces the need for expensive water filtration facilities.

Across the country, local citizens and communities have come together to form more than 1,700 land trusts to conserve natural places they value by either purchasing land or working with willing landowners to form easements.

For information, call GPMCT at 469-6929, email info@greatpondtrust.org, or visit www.greatpondtrust.org.

To see a complete list of all recently accredited land trusts online at www.landtrustaccreditation.org. To learn about the Land Trust Alliance, visit  www.landtrustalliance.org.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.