Loon Echo Land Trust has money to give away. Grant money, that is. Since 1987 it has been protecting territory in the northern end of the Lakes Region. They’re also connecting with school kids, ensuring the next generation has an appreciation for the woods and waters.

Last year, grants paid for soil studies in South Bridgton, a trip to observe maple sugaring in Harrison and a study that compared forest plots in Casco. Information from these activities is gathered and/or disseminated to the community, as well as various state agencies and environmental groups.

To date Loon Echo has protected about 3,000 acres in Bridgton, Casco, Denmark, Harrison, Naples, Raymond and Sebago. Every year Loon Echo awards small grants to schools and libraries in the above towns, and they’re taking applications for 2011. Typically, six to 12 grants are awarded each year. Some of Loon Echo’s grant money is allocated annually to the Mayberry Hill preserve in Casco, where Lake Region High Hchool kids learn about forestry on 160 acres of woodlands, meadows and streams.

“The rest of the grants are competitive,” said Carrie Walia, Loon Echo’s executive director. “The deadline is Jan. 15.” A grant application is available at www.loonecholandtrust.org. Applications must include a program name, brief description, estimated cost and whether the school or library has received a Loon Echo grant before.

“We’ve received two (applications) so far,” Walia said last week. “Since 1998, we’ve been awarding the grants. Helen Allen, a generous donor who lived in Casco, passed away and left a bequest to Loon Echo. Since she was a teacher, our board decided to make a memorial endowment for environmental education.”

Loon Echo is also continuing its Pleasant Mountain campaign. The trust purchased 1,200 acres on the mountain’s eastern side in 2003, the organization’s largest conservation holding. A Land for Maine’s Future grant has since expanded the preserve to 1,500 acres. Many trails cover this part of the 2,000-foot mountain, the highest in southern Maine.

Development pressures have steadily increased here in recent years, affecting water quality at Moose Pond. About 11,000 acres of land drain into it.

“We focus on protecting the land which will protect water quality over time,” said Walia. “We’re trying to grow our land holdings on the mountain. We raised a lot of grant monies and went public this summer. We’re hoping to raise a little over $80,000 by the end of the year (2010) to protect an additional 795 acres. We’re calling it Phase 2 for Pleasant Mountain.”

If successful, Loon Echo will hold some 2,300 acres of the mountain, ensuring a large tract remains stable — a destination many in the Portland area visit each year.

If you’d like to donate to the Pleasant Mountain campaign, a donation link is on their Web site. Or call 647-4352.

 

Don Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Raymond. He can be reached at:

[email protected] gmail.com