It seems, every day, we hear of more rollbacks and new policies that will lead to greater pollution and degradation of our natural environment coming from Washington, D.C. To counter this somber news, I find inspiration in the fantastic work being performed right in our own Maine backyards by locally funded, member-driven nonprofit organizations.

Environmental conservation and natural resource protection in southern Maine is robust, active and relatively insulated from the ebbs and flows of the political climate in Washington. Consider my local land trust, the Great Works Regional Land Trust. Founded 30 years ago, it has completed over 120 projects, protecting more than 6,000 acres in Berwick, Eliot, Ogunquit, North Berwick, South Berwick and Wells.

Great Works partners with other land trusts, conservation commissions and like-minded businesses and organizations to maximize impact and share resources. A great example of this creative partnering is the Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative, a collaborative effort of 10 local, state and federal partners working to connect 19,000 acres of critical land centered on Mount Agamenticus.

This area, stretching from the Tatnic Hills of Wells to the rocky coast of Kittery, encompasses the largest unfragmented coastal forest between the New Jersey Pine Barrens and Acadia National Park and represents the most biologically diverse region in Maine.

Therefore, when I grow discouraged by the bad news emanating from inside the Beltway, all I have to do is volunteer during a Trail Work Day, hike out to Balancing Rock in South Berwick or walk a quiet coastal path at Beach Plum Farm in Ogunquit. With so many local land trusts in Maine, we have the ability to balance growth with the permanent protection of forest and farmland that will always provide clean water, recreational opportunities and fresh local food.

Harland Goodwin

South Berwick