On June 17, the Scarborough Land Trust received a 2020 ecomaine eco-Excellence Award for its dedication in preserving land. The awards were given during pre-recorded videos prior to the event. From left to right: Rick Shinay, land trust board president, Matt Grondin, communications manager at ecomaine and Andrew Mackie, executive director of the land trust. Courtesy photo Matt Grondin

SCARBOROUGH — In recognition for its dedication to keeping facilities open last year, the Scarborough Land Trust was awarded a 2021 eco-Excellence Award on June 17.

The land trust was one of eight winners, unveiled during ecomaine’s 2021 meeting in Portland, said a release. The organization was acknowledged for a commitment to preserving natural spaces as well as keeping land open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the initial shutdowns caused by the pandemic last year, the Scarborough Land Trust felt it important to keep open spaces available to residents, who could benefit from a positive mental health experience that going outside can provide, said Andrew Mackie, executive director.

“We were really intent on keeping our properties open,” he said. “Obviously, we tried to get the message out about social distancing and being safe and wearing masks, but we thought people needed a place to go. All of us were feeling confined. The idea that nature is such a great way of redefining the soul, I think was so important for everyone living in Scarborough.”

In a prerecorded video presented at the awards ceremony, Rick Shinay, board president of the land trust, said that the organization owns about 1,600 acres of land.

“Land trust properties provide places for people near where they live to get away from it all, if you will, to get out into nature and enjoy peacefulness for an hour or two,” he said.

Two Scarborough residents nominated the land trust for the eco-Excellence Award this year, and the nonprofit is grateful to have won, Mackie said.

“We have such a great relationship with the town,” he said. “We thank them for nominating us.”

Mackie said the land trust was happy to receive the award that is now hanging on the wall in the office.

“We’re really excited to get it,” he said. “We’re so thrilled we won. I think for our board and volunteers and staff, it was a great recognition of all the effort that went in, especially during the last year and a half or so.”  

The Scarborough Land Trust was a recipient of ecomaine’s 2021 eco-Excellence Award. Courtesy photo Andrew Mackie

During the pandemic, many new users began visiting the land trust’s property, said Shinay.

“Being recognized by ecomaine with the 2021 eco-Excellence Award was both a surprise and an honor,” he said. “It’s really rewarding to operate in a town where so many of the citizens care about open space and care about access to property for relaxation and peacefulness and general enjoyment of nature.”

While working to keep facilities open, staff and volunteers noticed that parking lots were filling up faster due to more people utilizing the land trust’s spaces, Mackie said. More people on trails created some challenges.

“We had to invest in some signage, get some materials and craft those messages, trying to make sure people were safe,” he said. “Also our trails, as more and more people use them and use them consistently, we have wet areas that tend to get muddy so we have to build bridges over them. We have to provide for not only people accessing the property, but one of our missions is making sure that natural resources are protected.”

The land trust has worked to make sure dog owners are responsible on the trails, said Mackie. Cleaning up after dogs ensures that water does not get contaminated as well as gives every trail-goer a better experience.

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