It isn’t often that two local non-profits can benefit from a single gift, one that contributes to the essential missions of both organizations. In December 2017, the Georges River Land Trust and Midcoast Habitat for Humanity received a donation that allowed for the purchase of a 57-acre parcel in the center of the Land Trust’s Bridging Two Rivers Project in South Thomaston, with a house and barns that will be used for Midcoast Habitat for Humanity programming. The property, known as Riverview Hayfields Farm by the previous owners, St. Charles, was purchased with an anonymous donation to create two tracts. The house and barn along Route 131 is now owned by Midcoast Habitat for Humanity, and the surrounding 57 acres that extends to the Weskeag River, located between the Riverview Hayfields Preserve to the north and the Paulsen Farm easement to the south, is now owned by Georges River Land Trust.
Since 2007 when Georges River Land Trust purchased the first 15 acres in the Bridging Two Rivers area, also owned by St. Charles, the Land Trust made a pledge to the community of supporters that this investment would reap benefits beyond its borders to leverage a landscape of conservation land between the St. George River and Weskeag Marsh. With the help of many individuals in the community as well as public and private grant funding, over 500 acres is now conserved to benefit wildlife, traditional farming, and fishing and public access. With the purchase of the former Riverview Hayfields Farm, there is truly a conserved land bridge between the St. George and Weskeag Rivers, specifically 512 acres and 1 1/2 miles of shorefront on the Weskeag, along with the 72 acres and 3/4 of a mile of shorefront on the St. George River.
In addition to the 584 acres conserved by Georges River Land Trust, the Bridging Two Rivers initiative includes the adjacent Waldo Tyler Wildlife Management Area and lands protected by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust — combining more than 1,500 acres of field, marsh and woodlands in this biologically significant estuary and riparian corridor that will remain intact and available for wildlife and traditional uses.
“This new acquisition is truly a gift to the community with the bonus of a donor who sought to benefit two mission-based local non-profits, where land can inspire people and people can give back to the land,” said Annette Naegel, Director of Conservation at Georges River Land Trust. “We could not be more pleased, and we look forward to integrating this parcel into the Riverview Hayfields Preserve, which will be managed for a complement of values including history, natural community education, habitat protection and public access.”
“Midcoast Habitat for Humanity is excited about this generous gift, which will allow us to further serve our community. For the immediate future, we plan to use the house to accommodate volunteer groups for week long engagement opportunities constructing affordable housing and the barn as a construction workshop,” commented Tia Anderson, Executive Director of Midcoast Habitat. “Our programs are thriving and having volunteer groups build with us regularly allows for consistent progress on our projects. Midcoast Habitat will be working on several projects in Rockland this year and will look toward affordable housing development opportunities down the St. George peninsula for the future. “It is a great benefit to the community when organizations and donors can collaborate to fulfill our missions.”