History

The Royal River Conservation Trust grew out of the Friends of the Royal River, and four local land trusts. The Friends of the Royal River followed decades of earlier advocacy and scientific work of watershed organizations focused on the river.

This page describes a mix of the history of the organization, and also some of the historic and historic preservation aspects of our work.   Each of our properties has a deep history both before and after conservation.

In 2006 and 2009, the boards of five organizations (Yarmouth Land Trust founded in 1990, North Yarmouth Land Trust founded in 1988, New Gloucester Preservation Trust founded in 1988, Pownal Land Trust founded in 1989, and the Friends of the Royal River founded in 1992) formally merged into the Royal River Conservation Trust (founded in 2002).

Since 1988, we have conserved more than 3300 acres of land in nine communities, and built momentum and strategic plans for more successes.

This history of the Pownal Land Trust, Bradbury Mountain State Park, and conservation land in Pownal is richly detailed in a 2008 book, “On Pownal Time, One Hundred Years in a Rural Maine Town, 1908-2008. The book describes the successful work of the Pownal Land Trust in 1990 to expand Bradbury Mountain State Park, one of the first projects of the new Land for Maine’s Future program.  The same players expanded the park again with “The Corridor” and Tryon Mountain in 2003, 2004, and 2007.

Also in 1990, the Yarmouth Land Trust accepted the first deed on what today has become RRCT’s Littlejohn Island Preserve.

In 2007, RRCT received a National Preservation Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for our work — with others — on the protection of the vast forests and orchards surrounding the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, alongside companion protection of the village itself.

RRCT’s conservation easement on Skyline Farm in North Yarmouth supports an active carriage museum.

All of our conserved properties and conserved farms come in the context of the rich history of the parcels. We maintain a strong working relationship with local historical societies.   The Yarmouth Historical Society, especially, maintains archives and exhibits which help document the history of key preserves such as Spear Farm Estuary Preserve, and the rich history of the Royal River and what is now Royal River Park.

Our land conservation successes are made possible by working relationships with nearby local and regional land trusts, and by teamwork with state-wide and national land trusts, especially the Trust for Public Land, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the New England Forestry Foundation, and the Maine Farmland Trust. We have joint projects and close coordination with the Freeport Conservation Trust, the Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust, the Androscoggin Land Trust, Maine Rivers, The Nature Conservancy in Maine, and the Maine Island Trail Association. Our relationships with our local municipalities are rich and aligned.  We have acquired land to expand Bradbury Mountain State Park and the Pineland Public Reserved Land Unit, and to create and expand wildlife management areas of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.