Five midcoast Maine land conservation organizations are contemplating a merger.

Over the next several months, leaders of the Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association, the Pemaquid Watershed Association, the Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance and the Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association will ask their members whether the organizations should consolidate under a new name. The board of the Hidden Valley Nature Center in Lincoln County, which does not have a voting membership, has already endorsed the merger, and the other groups say they plan to have members vote on the proposal by the end of September.

Collectively, the five organizations have roughly 2,500 members and own or manage more than 7,000 acres of conservation land stretching from Palermo to the Pemaquid Peninsula as well as the watersheds of Damariscotta Lake, the Pemaquid River and the Sheepscot River. If approved, the merger would create one of the largest regional land conservation organizations in Maine, according to the groups.

“We believe that our members will see the strength in this idea, which will create a team of experts specializing in water quality, land conservation, stewardship, education and program development,” Jody Jones, executive director of the Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association, said in a statement. “Our vision is to increase recreational and volunteer opportunities, offer affordable programming for adults and children, and offer peace of mind that the land and water in midcoast Maine will be conserved and protected in perpetuity.”

Jones said that merging will allow the organizations to reduce administrative overhead and redundancies. The yet-to-be-named organization would also seek accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, which verifies that land trusts meet standards for conservation, stewardship and nonprofit management.

 


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