Raising $250,000 in additional funds for the Land Acquisition Fund in 2022.
2022 Land Acquisition Fund Initiative
Alongside our larger fundraising plan RRCT will raise $250,000 in 2022 to build a robust fund that allows a nimble response to conservation opportunities that align with RRCT’s Conservation Plan.
Why the urgency?
The current real estate market and other pressures in the Royal River watershed drive our need to conserve as much land as possible in the next ten years. RRCT wants to bolster the Land Acquisition Fund in order to accomplish our land acquisition goals. We’re facing many stressors, but we also have ample opportunities to save land now.
Or contact us to learn more about the fund.
Why Is the Land Acquisition Fund Critical?
Our Land Acquisition Fund enables us to act upon and secure conservation opportunities as they arise. With a strong Land Acquisition Fund (LAF), RRCT can be nimble in a competitive real estate market and meet our conservation goals.
How does the Land Acquisition Fund function?
Seeds large projects
RRCT’s LAF can kick-start major projects by providing seed money. LAF can be used for early due diligence, including preliminary title analysis, appraisals, and feasibility analysis. RRCT acquired 175 acres in 2021, now part of a 300-acre Intervale Preserve in New Gloucester. This project was able to begin because RRCT had LAF funds available.
Allows timely action when opportunities arise
LAF can be a tool for quickly seizing unique opportunities. For years, RRCT sought to resolve access challenges to a parcel of RRCT land in North Yarmouth. In early 2021, an abutter had pressing financial needs but did not want to sell his woods for development. He offered the land to RRCT, on the sole condition that the sale be expedited to address his needs. The timing was tight, and while the parcel was pivotal for access it was not suited for donor visits or public campaigns.
Act on priority parcels
RRCT’s LAF can also be a tool for acquiring priority parcels. The Elmwood trail in Pownal is located on a tight curve, creating safety issues for trail users. RRCT noticed a for sale sign on a vacant lot next to the trail in 2019. The landowners couldn’t wait for a typical fundraising campaign that often takes a year to accomplish. A local donor stepped up with a donation to LAF, specific to this priority parcel. It’s not unusual for LAF donations to be earmarked toward specific opportunities, though RRCT aims to implement a watershed-wide plan with few restrictions.
Creates meaningful partnerships
The Royal River shoreline has been a conservation priority for RRCT and the Town of Yarmouth. In 2016, RRCT began working with landowners toward conserving land abutting a new residential neighborhood. Over three years, RRCT’s staff time guided the project through the Planning Board, Town Council, state funding process, and a charitable campaign led by the land trust. RRCT’s investment of staff time was possible due to members, donors, and businesses who recognize that RRCT capacity is pivotal toward successful conservation outcomes.
Strengthens land management for donated lands
Our most heart-felt projects arise when families offer to donate their land. Land trusts need long-term funds to manage properties for perpetuity. It can be challenging to accept donations of land without raising funds for land management (stewardship). RRCT has structured its LAF with the recognition that good stewardship is necessary for all projects. This allows RRCT to sometimes accept land donations without a financial contribution from the landowner.
Part of a larger campaign context
The LAF is one fundraising tool of many. RRCT’s 2022 LAF goal of $250,000 is part of RRCT’s larger fundraising plan. LAF is a tool we are adding to our fundraising strategies. Some campaigns are quiet; other are led by partner organizations with RRCT. Examples of 2020-2022 campaigns separate from LAF include: $200,000 for a heron rookery in Gray (with Land for Maine’s Future), $300,000 for the Intervale Preserve in New Gloucester (wetland compensation funding), $400,000 in-kind landowner donations of land, $2,000,000 for the Cousins River Fields & Marsh in Yarmouth with two other land trusts, funds for the Talking Brook Public Land project (Big Falls Preserve expansion) with The Trust for Public Land, and projects with the Maine Farmland Trust. RRCT’s annual land management (stewardship) budget approaches $100,000 annually. RRCT’s operational budget with stewardship, land acquisition and staff time now approaches $400,000.
View the more detailed case studies of how the Land Acquisition Fund functions.
Land Acquisition Fund history and future:
RRCT established the Land Acquisition Fund (LAF) with private charitable donations and is consistently spending our LAF on current projects, while simultaneously raising more funds. Donations are pooled to allow RRCT to act on opportunities as they present themselves. Some donors prefer to fund specific parcels, their donation can be structured accordingly. Funds only go toward land acquisition projects, following board votes on specific parcel budgets including staff time. By adopted board policy, RRCT sets aside a portion of each acquisition budget (roughly 10%) for long-term stewardship funds that are invested to generate income for the care for our properties.
What Types of Conservation Projects Will My Donation Go Towards?
By connecting resilient lands and waters, we can assure that the watershed of the future will retain functioning habitat for plants and animals despite pressures from climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation.
RRCT aims to distribute access to all the towns of the Royal River watershed, while providing an inclusive visitation experience for all.
The intersection of the towns of Durham, Pownal, New Gloucester, and Auburn contain some of the largest intact habitat in our region. We hope to pass this legacy to future generations.
More details about how we protect land or check out some of our active & recent projects.