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Wednesday July 30, 2014

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    Jonathan LaBonte, 31
    Executive Director
    Androscoggin Land Trust & Mayor of Auburn

    Jonathan LaBonte, the youngest
    mayor in the Auburn’s history and
    the first executive director of the
    Androscoggin Land Trust in almost
    five years, is well known for his
    efforts to improve Auburn’s quality of
    life and economic climate.

    Originally a volunteer group
    working to save 1,900 acres of river
    land in Turner, the Androscoggin
    Land Trust (ATL) now has three staff
    members and a downtown office.
    “The Androscoggin River, long
    written off as an environmental
    wasteland where smokestacks
    were the dominant force, has had
    its profile raised significantly in
    recent years in national and regional
    reports with support from Jonathan’s
    advocacy,†wrote award nominator
    Annie Tselikis. “Given the history
    of industrial development as the
    primary driver of most Androscoggin
    communities, Jonathan has led
    ALT in creating new models for
    local engagement and planning for
    connecting residents to the potential
    of the river and its landscape.â€Â

    In 2009, with support from
    Lewiston, Auburn, Leeds, Turner,
    and Greene, LaBonte developed
    Maine’s first new state park in
    almost 25 years, the Androscoggin
    Riverlands State Park. LaBonte’s
    efforts in 2009 lead to the creation
    of the Chisholm Trails, conserving
    1,300 acres in Jay and Livermore
    Falls, the starting point for the largest
    single project proposed by the land

    In partnership with Hannaford
    Bros., a new store in Turner Village is
    proposed to lead the ATL in building
    a village park along the Nezinscot
    River. ATL has also been granted
    funding for the Androscoggin
    Greenway, providing water and land
    trails connecting the Androscoggin
    Riverlands State Park to downtown

    “Coordinating economic
    development planning in a downtown
    to land conservation and recreation
    in a larger corridor has the potential
    to be a model on the Androscoggin,â€Â
    Tselikis notes.

    LaBonte has served on local and
    state boards, and volunteers at Hope
    Haven, a homeless shelter and soup
    kitchen in Lewiston.

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