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    Jonathan LaBonte, 31
    Executive Director
    Androscoggin Land Trust & Mayor of Auburn

    Jonathan LaBonte, the youngest mayor in the Auburn’s history and the first executive director of the Androscoggin Land Trust in almost five years, is well known for his efforts to improve Auburn’s quality of life and economic climate.

    Originally a volunteer group working to save 1,900 acres of river land in Turner, the Androscoggin Land Trust (ATL) now has three staff members and a downtown office. “The Androscoggin River, long written off as an environmental wasteland where smokestacks were the dominant force, has had its profile raised significantly in recent years in national and regional reports with support from Jonathan’s advocacy,” wrote award nominator Annie Tselikis. “Given the history of industrial development as the primary driver of most Androscoggin communities, Jonathan has led ALT in creating new models for local engagement and planning for connecting residents to the potential of the river and its landscape.”

    In 2009, with support from Lewiston, Auburn, Leeds, Turner, and Greene, LaBonte developed Maine’s first new state park in almost 25 years, the Androscoggin Riverlands State Park. LaBonte’s efforts in 2009 lead to the creation of the Chisholm Trails, conserving 1,300 acres in Jay and Livermore Falls, the starting point for the largest single project proposed by the land trust.

    In partnership with Hannaford Bros., a new store in Turner Village is proposed to lead the ATL in building a village park along the Nezinscot River. ATL has also been granted funding for the Androscoggin Greenway, providing water and land trails connecting the Androscoggin Riverlands State Park to downtown Lewiston-Auburn.

    “Coordinating economic development planning in a downtown to land conservation and recreation in a larger corridor has the potential to be a model on the Androscoggin,” Tselikis notes.

    LaBonte has served on local and state boards, and volunteers at Hope Haven, a homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Lewiston.

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