Conserving for the Future
Using Technology to Target Areas of Interest -George Fields
In line with the recent release of the United Nations Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and BHHT’s Executive Director Hans Carlson’s thoughts on how we as a community can help play a part in this global issue (see link below), Blue Hill Heritage Trust’s primary focus for the past 36 years has been the conservation and stewardship of key parcels of land within the greater Blue Hill Peninsula region. That focus is something we do not take lightly. Conserving land is far from buying property and “locking it away” from current use. It has evolved to include helping manage key forested, wetland, shoreland, scenic and culturally important areas within a changing environmental and human habitation setting. More often than not, this takes time, especially in answering the important questions related to wildlife habitat, water and other natural resources, and whether there is benefit for the community at large. Can we conserve properties for the future and still benefit from them as working landscapes? Can we or should we protect and steward critical habitat that makes our region more resilient? Our answer is a definitive YES! 

With that in mind BHHT is currently contracting with the Center for Community GIS to create a computer application that can aid in the decision-making process on whether a parcel fits a given set of conservation parameters. Is it worth protecting, can we adequately steward the property, is there public benefit, is there a development potential, a working landscape component? In this ever-changing climate we need to be more proactive in protecting our environment. We also need to be more reactive when opportunities to do so arise. Now, more than ever we need to advance that ball.
We Bought the Farm!
Protecting Farmland within the Village of Blue Hill -Hans Carlson
In October 2020, Blue Hill Heritage Trust conserved the small farmstead across the road from the Blue Hill fairgrounds entrance. Some of you will remember a farm stand on the property back in the 1990s, and that the land was actively farmed for decades before 2000. These 11 acres are the last open farmland left within the village, and though they have lain fallow for nearly twenty years, the former owners kept the land open and tilled it regularly to keep the soils in good heart. The Trust wanted to conserve the agricultural potential of this land, and hopefully see that potential released.

BHHT holds easements on several farms on the peninsula, focused largely on the rich land along the Route 15 corridor, and we see this property fitting into our overall desire to protect and give support to local food production. This has been an ongoing commitment of ours since the 1990s, which has taken on a new importance in the last year and a half of disruption caused by the pandemic. Protecting farmland and the farming potential of the Blue Hill peninsula is good for conservation, it’s good for local economy, for local food quality and security, and for reducing the carbon footprint of our food.

We also wanted to do something with the property that would be in service of the local farming and food community on the peninsula, and so we are collaborating to make that happen. BHHT will not operate the farm, but instead lease the property to another organization. Bill Giordano (pictured above with his dog Poppy), currently a program director with the Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society, and his organization Tilth Agriculture and Arts will lease the farm to continue Bill’s work in agricultural infrastructure improvement that he has been working on with MESAS and UMaine. This will be a multi-year project, so we will keep you up to date as things progress.
Forest Carbon Offsets
A Possible Option for Small Landowners -Sandy Walczyk
Forests supply us with many services, from wildlife habitat and clean water to recreation and lumber. As climate change becomes a more pressing issue for society, there has also been a movement to market the carbon storage capacity of forest land and sell it to businesses and other organizations to offset the atmospheric carbon that they produce. This idea, known as carbon offsets or carbon credits, began in California as a regulatory program for businesses with high emissions, but has since expanded into a variety of voluntary markets for those looking to reduce their overall carbon footprint. 

To sell carbon credits, a forest landowner must usually agree to maintain or increase the amount of carbon being stored on their land over and above “business as usual” or any existing requirements, and they must commit for a long period of time – up to 100 years. The landowner can do this by managing their forest in a way that preserves or increases the volume of trees on their land - longer time between harvests, harvesting less volume, planting seedlings, etc. Sometimes, carbon credits can also be used to purchase and protect forest land. The end goal is to maintain a large and growing store of carbon on the landscape.

The original obligatory markets had many hurdles that small landowners could not navigate, but voluntary markets have been evolving in ways that may make carbon markets more accessible to small landowners, and landowners with younger forests. There are programs currently underway which bundle small properties to give them the same acreage and economy of scale as large landowners. Some voluntary markets are developing shorter contract lengths, which will make it more appealing for small landowners to commit. There are also experimental programs which are paying for changes to landowner management, not measured carbon stocks, and which might benefit landowners with a lower initial volume of trees.  While BHHT owns thousands of acres, we are still a relatively small landowner when compared with many of the early carbon projects, and we did not have the scale or volume of trees needed to enter the regulatory carbon offset system. As more flexible voluntary markets develop, however, such projects may become available as another tool that we can use to manage and conserve forest land. 
Fall Hunting Season is Just Around the Corner
Do You Have Your Blaze Orange?
BHHT is assisting Healthy Peninsula with their Safety Vest Project by handing out blaze orange safety gear. Wearing blaze orange on the trail is the best way for you and your pets to be seen and be safe. At our office, while supplies last, we are handing out free blaze orange vests in both adult (XXL) and kid (S) sizes and doggie bandanas in size M. Our office is currently closed to the public, but we have been handing off vests and bandanas safely outside in our parking area. Call us to arrange pick-up, 374-5118.
Pictured: Foxy the Office dog!
BHHT Family News
We are happy to share with you the following joyous events that occurred this summer.
BHHT Outreach Coordinator Landere and her husband Adam welcomed baby Sylvan!
BHHT Board President Samantha and partner Rob were wed on a locally conserved property!
BHHT Board Member Kate, her husband Fred and their family welcomed baby Nina!
Help provide us with financial continuity throughout the year.
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