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March 20, 2018

Conference to tackle ‘future of land conservation in Maine’

What happens at the conference

This year's Maine Land Conservation Conference offers an entirely new agenda http://www.mltn.org/meetings/thursday-schedule.php that includes field trips to local land trusts, video interviews with unexpected allies, a mini-workshop with Portland-based nonprofit writing center The Telling Room. Land trust leaders will be asked to overcome common stereotypes, rethink labels like "conservationist," explore nuanced and complicated relationships with towns, politicians, and landowners, and learn to listen to opposing voices.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a statewide land conservation organization, is using the 35th anniversary of its annual Maine Land Conservation Conference this week to explore a different format and dig into some themes in more depth.

MCHT President Tim Glidden said he expects nearly 400 of the state's land conservation leaders to gather on Thursday at the Samoset Resort in Rockport as part of a two-day conference designed to explore the future of land conservation in Maine.

"With the rapid changes in Maine's communities and economy, we believe it's a unique time and a rare opportunity to step back, think strategically, and reconsider how the land trust community can have the most positive impact for Maine," Glidden said in a news release. "Land trusts are always seeking ways to provide benefits to their communities."

Conference organizers say the conference is designed to help land trusts explore ways to connect with all Mainers, including those who depend on the land, such as farmers, clammers and fishermen, those who value Maine for recreation, and more. "In short, land trusts must always strive to be relevant to all Mainers," Glidden said.

Glidden said the land trust community must articulate not only the challenges to Maine, but also the practical solutions posed by land trusts, which he acknowledged sometimes comes up against the state's tradition of rugged individualism and aversion to collective action.

"If those who depend on open land and access aren't part of the conversation, Maine simply won't be able to surmount the challenges posed by climate change and increased development pressure," he said. "The land trust community is in a unique position to work with Mainers of all stripes to set priorities and figure out how to meet these complex challenges."

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