Rachelle Curran Apse, executive director of Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, shown here last year at what is now the East Windham Conservation Area, is leaving her post next month after 10 years. Ben McCanna / Portland Press Herald

Under Rachelle Curran Apse’s decade of leadership, the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust has grown exponentially.

It has “tripled the acres we’ve conserved, tripled the number of trails that are open to the public across the five towns that we serve, and tripled the number of people who are engaged with the land trust,” Apse said.

After 10 years as the land trust’s executive director, Apse is stepping down next month. Moving into that role will be William Sedlack, most recently with Maine Conservation Voters.

Apse said she feels honored to have served with the land trust for so long and to have been able to watch it evolve and grow, growth she attributes to “hundreds of volunteers, members, supporters and community partners.”

“It’s been such an exciting growth and momentum for our community-based nonprofit,” she said.

 Rachelle Curran Apse


She’s proud of the land trust’s accomplishments and of providing more people with ways to connect with the outdoors and “engage meaningfully in their communities in ways that give back positively.”


“We’ve deeply embedded within the community,” she said. “It’s been exciting to lead that effort.”

The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust Land serves Gorham, Gray, Standish, Westbrook and Windham.

“Our land trust has built connections with all of the five municipalities we work with, building those meaningful relationships with after-school outdoor programs and nonprofits and historical societies, and with so many community organizations to create programming,” she said.

The trust has conserved nearly 3,000 acres and over 30 miles of trails, including the new East Windham Conservation Area, which connects to a 1,300-acre protected area in Falmouth, resulting in a 2,000-acre parcel that is protected from future development. Its holdings also include the Mill Brook Preserve in Westbrook, Gambo Preserve in Gorham and the Steep Falls Village Preserve in Standish.

The trust also monitors the water quality of the Presumpscot River watershed and offers educational programming.

William Sedlack, the incoming executive director of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust. Contributed / William Sedlak

“Rachelle has led the land trust through the transformational change from an all-volunteer to a professionally-led organization. She built and cultivated the processes that have made us more effective and earned national accreditation with the Land Trust Alliance,” said Matt Streeter, co-president of the trust’s board of directors.


“She built an extraordinary staff who, with her leadership, did the hard work of adding over 1,000 acres of conserved land to our portfolio,” Streeter said.

Apse is leaving the land trust to move across the globe with her family. Her husband’s job with a nature conservancy will take him to Cape Town, South Africa, and the family will live there for at least a year. Apse said it was an opportunity her family couldn’t pass up.

In searching for her replacement, she said, she was “hoping to find someone that was passionate about growing the conservation and access to the outdoors, and (would have) the energy and drive to keep building momentum with the organization.”

“Will (Sedlack) is someone who embodies all of that,” she said. He is “motivated to connect more people with nature close to home.”

Sedlack said making all trails publicly accessible is very important to him.

“One of the things I’m excited to think about is how people of all abilities access the preserves, and there are a lot of ways to approach that,” he said.


His background is a mix of policy and advocacy work in the field of conservation and climate change. He has a law degree and also has served on the Zoning Board of Appeals in Portland.

“The trails and rivers of southern Maine have provided me space to think, act, connect, and learn about myself and the world around me,” Sedlack said. “I love seeing how space transforms throughout the seasons and how communities creatively access nature.”

He will be at the opening celebration for the East Windham Conservation Area on Dec. 2, a free event from noon to 3 p.m. He said he is looking forward to meeting residents, especially those who have not walked the trails before.

“Rachelle has done an amazing job and (I’m) excited to build on the work that she’s done,” Sedlack said.

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