LEWISTON – “If you don’t get them to care about where they live, they’re going to leave,” an urban planner from Lowell, Mass., told Androscoggin Land Trust members at the group’s annual meeting Thursday night.

Jane Calvin, executive director of the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust, outlined similarities between her city’s vision for riverside green space and the work and plans of the Androscoggin group. She described efforts to lay out and construct trails and public areas along the proposed Concord River Greenway through some dense urban areas of Lowell.

She told the ALT meeting audience that compromise with the city was often important to acquire necessary purchases or easements.

Her group agreed to allow development of one house lot on a historic property in order to achieve longer-range goals, Calvin said.

She explained how the route will link the city’s largest park area to the city center and a network of walkways that have been developed by the Lowell National Historic Park.

The first segment of the multipurpose trail has been constructed. The trail is primarily on an abandoned railroad right of way paralleling the Concord River.

New state park

Guest speaker Patrick McGowan, commissioner of the Maine Department of Conservation, told the group that the proposed Androscoggin Riverlands State Park in Turner and Greene is the first new state park plan in 22 years.

“We have a commitment to make this state park work,” McGowan said.

The commissioner also said, “Our forests are very healthy.” He said there is more forestland in Maine now than in the past 60 years.

Jonathon LaBonte, executive director of the ALT, said there is a proposal for reconstruction of a section of Lincoln Street to provide 6-foot shoulders for biking and walking. It is critical that the work be done now or the opportunity will be lost, he said.

Michael Auger, the trust’s director of land protection and stewardship, said the organization conserves more than 3,100 acres of land, including 8 miles of riverfront along the Androscoggin River.

Awards and elections

The trust’s 2008 Elliott Bates Stewardship Award was presented to the Maine Geocaching Association.

The 2008 Bonnie Lounsbury Environmental Award went to Judith Marden, a longtime advocate and volunteer for Androscoggin Land Trust. Lounsbury, a founder of the organization, presented the award.

Marnie Coleman of Auburn was elected president for 2009.

Jason Libby of Auburn was elected vice president; Edouard Plourde of Lewiston was elected treasurer; and Melinda Emerson of Greene was elected secretary.

New board members are Verla Brooks of Lisbon; Elaine Makas of Lewiston; Camille Parrish of Auburn; John Ross of Livermore Falls; and Paul Soucie of Wilton.

Churchill Barton of Auburn was elected to a third board term.

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