LEWISTON – The Androscoggin Land Trust, an Auburn-based land conservation organization, held its annual meeting at the Edmund Muskie Archives on the campus of Bates College on Sept. 12. The meeting also marked the beginning of the trust’s 15th year of operation in the central Androscoggin River valley region.

During the meeting, trust President Jonathan LaBonte highlighted the successes of the past 15 years, including the permanent protection of more than 2,700 acres of land in communities from Jay and Canton, Lisbon and Durham. Included with that land is trust’s work to protect more than five miles of shorefront along the Androscoggin River.

Two annual awards were given during the meeting. The first, the Elliott Bates Award, is given to the trust volunteer who best exemplifies the spirit and dedication to stewardship shown by Elliott Bates during his long career as a volunteer to many and various environmental and academic organizations. This year it was given to David Lowe, volunteer steward for the Alexander-Harkins Preserve in New Auburn.

Lowe has worked for the last four years as the steward, which includes improving and creating new trails on the property, removing and controlling invasive species, educating visitors to the preserve regulations and providing general maintenance.

The second award, the Bonnie Lounsbury Environmental Award, is given periodically by the trust to an individual or organization who, by overcoming adversity and staying the course, best exemplifies the spirit and accomplishments of Bonnie Lounsbury in advancing environmental efforts in the central Androscoggin River valley region. The award was given to Lewiston City Councilor Lillian LaFontaine O’Brien.

O’Brien was the key advocate in assisting the trust reach a purchase and sale agreement with the city of Lewiston to create a nature preserve and provide nonmotorized access along the Androscoggin River just south of Deer Rips Dam.

Her work included ensuring that a motion to sell the land to a developer was tabled and supporting a resolution to sell the city-owned parcel for conservation purposes, recognizing the greater community good to be gained through that use.

The annual meeting concluded with a presentation by Laura Rose Day, executive director of the Penobscot River Restoration Trust. Day shared the effort that went into an agreement seven years to restore native fish species to the Penobscot River north of Bangor.

The agreement, which includes federal, state and tribal governments in addition to conservation and business interests, will involve the removal of several dams, the building of a fish bypass and the increase of hydro-power production on several Pennsylvania Power and Lights facilities in Maine.

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