Thirty years ago, attorney David Kennedy signed the incorporation papers for the North Yarmouth Land Trust, forming the first of five conservation groups that would merge in 2002 to form the Royal River Conservation Trust.

“We were in the right place at the right time,” Kennedy said, explaining that he and Kathryn Dion chose to have a conservation easement on half of their property, ensuring it can never be turned into house lots.

This power couple of conservation was recognized at the 30th anniversary celebration of the land trust on Aug. 22 at Skyline Farm, a carriage house museum in North Yarmouth where 46 of the 54 acres are in a conservation easement held by Royal River Conservation Trust.

Attendees included supporters who have donated land, funds, their time – or all three. With four sheet cakes, maps of the four land trusts that merged into the Royal River Conservation Trust – local organizations in Yarmouth, North Yarmouth, Pownal and New Gloucester – were depicted in frosting.

“Thirty years ago, Friends of the Royal River were focused entirely on water quality, and we have inherited their mandate to look after the health of the river,” said Alan Stearns, the trust’s executive director. “Eventually the five organizations merged, creating an innovative model, being able to work with six or seven towns and an entire watershed. This is our first event like this, ever. It’s time to kick back and celebrate.”

Under a full moon, guests mingled around a campfire and roasted marshmallows – or talked about trails and waterways.

“I’m a trail runner and cross-country skier, and having places to get outside is really important,” said board member Daniel Smith of North Yarmouth. “We conserved 215 acres on the border of North Yarmouth and Cumberland. If we can connect the center of North Yarmouth over to Knight’s Pond, we’d be really close to connecting all the way to the city of Portland.”

The trust presented its first Maine Conservation Champion Award to Don Perkins, co-founder of the Friends of Casco Bay and chief executive officer and president of Gulf of Maine Research Institute.

“I think it’s astounding what you’ve done,” Perkins said. “It’s organizations like you that set the stage for quality of life in our state.”

Sharing some predictive science and connecting his remarks to the trust’s 30-year anniversary, Perkins said: “Thirty years is the time it takes the atmosphere to adjust to the current level of carbon output. We have this challenge that we have to make changes that will affect the environment in 30 years.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

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