NEWCASTLE — The Frances Perkins Center honored Steven Hufnagel, executive director of Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust, on June 26 with a Partners in Place award at the Frances Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark in Newcastle.

The award recognized him for work that has ensured the permanent protection of many acres of land within the Damariscotta watershed. Since 1993, 53 of the Homestead’s 57 acres have been protected by a conservation easement managed by Coastal Rivers under its earlier name as the Damariscotta River Association, according to a news release from the center.

Frances Perkins Center board chairwoman Sarah Peskin noted that Hufnagel works as Frances Perkins did, seldom calling attention to himself, instead laboring out of the limelight to bring complex projects and people together, commending him for his interdisciplinary approach, knowledge of geology and natural resource management, and low-key consensus-building skills that he uses to quietly steward local conservation efforts benefitting the health of the land and people of the Damariscotta region.

Peskin cited Hufnagel’s leadership in establishing the Twin Villages Food Bank Farm, in facilitating the merger of two active conservation organizations to form Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust, for expanding hands-on education programs, and for overseeing the preservation and reinvigoration of Round Top Farm — a local landmark, according to the release.

Coastal Rivers’ members and directors, Sen. Dana Dow, representatives from US Sen. Angus King’s office, friends and family of the honoree, and members of the Frances Perkins Center attended the event.

Following the award presentation, guests toured the Perkins Homestead, visiting the 1837 “Brick House” built by the great-grandparents of Frances Perkins as a wedding present to her parents, and constructed of bricks made on site at the family brickworks that operated on the homestead’s Damariscotta River shore c. 1795-1895.

Before departing, guests viewed conceptual plans presented by the Frances Perkins Center to preserve the saltwater farm’s existing structures, with renovations to make them safe for visitor use and extend the existing barn with a small contemporary addition to house exhibit and public meeting space for educational programs and community use. Attendees were thanked for their ongoing support and reminded that funding is still being sought to acquire and preserve the Frances Perkins Homestead.

For more information, visit FrancesPerkinsCenter.org or call 563-3374.

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