Andrew Mackie, 53, became Scarborough Land Trust’s new executive director on Nov. 2. Courtesy / Andrew Mackie

SCARBOROUGH — Andrew Mackie likes to joke that New York City is to blame for his love of the outdoors.

Mackie, 53, grew up in the Hudson Valley, about an hour and a half north of the city, and spent his childhood living on New York City reservoir property. The protected land was a paradise for a young boy, he said, and he has fond memories of fishing, catching frogs and generally exploring and outdoor adventuring.

Now, Mackie is embarking on a new adventure, in a new state, as the Scarborough Land Trust’s new executive director. He started Nov. 2, and has already waded in by helping the trust form a list of suggestions for Scarborough’s new comprehensive plan to submit to the town’s long-range planning committee.

“He’s folded into the land trust really easily,” said Samantha Wolf, the trust’s Stewardship Director.

Mackie has an extensive background in conservation and land trust work. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the State University of New York at Geneseo in 1989, and a master’s degree in environmental management in 2008 from Yale University’s School of the Environment. He worked for 16 years with the National Audubon Society on marshlands in New York and Florida and, prior to coming to Maine, he worked for just under 11 years for the Central Colorado Conservancy.

“I’ve always been in the conservation field,” he said.

Despite living out west for nearly a decade, Mackie said, he has always loved the Northeast, spending plenty of time in the Adirondacks, White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont. He said he left Colorado in December 2019, “to take on some new challenges,” which eventually led him to Scarborough.

Wolf said that Mackie’s background speaks for itself, and indicates how well he knows how to take care of nature, an essential component for a land trust director.

“He has that down, which is great,” she said.

Mackie will succeed Rich Bard, who stepped down as director in September to work for a tech company, Wolf said. Nancy Kelleher, a member of the trust’s board of directors, said Mackie’s background working with marshlands suits the executive director position well, considering the trust’s interest in the town’s iconic Scarborough Marsh.

“That marsh needs to be protected,” she said. “He’s got good knowledge of that.”

Kelleher also noted that Mackie raised more than $10 million in funding at his previous position, and has a strong interest in public outreach, something the trust wants to do more of in the coming years.

“We’re really thrilled to have him here,” she said.

Founded in 1977, the trust has acquired land, worked with landowners to create conservation easements and with other conservation organizations to protect and maintain a total of 1,586 acres, according to the trust’s website. Since the U.S. Census indicates the town of Scarborough covers 47.61 square miles, or 30,470 acres, that means the trust protects and maintains 5.2% of the town’s total land area.

Mackie called Scarborough “a nice mix” of developed and protected land, and agreed with Kelleher that protecting the marsh is an ongoing effort, and not just because it’s a part of the town’s culture. Three rivers feed into it and through to the ocean, making the marsh an important part of the local ecosystem.

“We forget that that marsh is connected to a lot of other things,” he said.

Going forward, Mackie said he hopes to update to the trust’s strategic plan this spring, which will map out the trust’s future. Naturally, he said, that will include potential acquisition of more land for protection. But he also wants to add what he calls a “green space plan,” which he hopes the trust can create together with town officials. Among other goals, he said, the plan would improve recreational opportunities, help connect the town’s trail systems and work with the Maine Farmland Trust, which helps to secure and protect tracts of farmland in the state.

Mackie lives in Scarborough now, and said overall, he’s thrilled to be part of the trust and the community.

“It’s a fantastic place,” he said.

Sean Murphy 780-9094

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