25th Anniversary Campaign
Year by year, acre by acre, the founding vision of Vinalhaven Land Trust continues to be realized. Today, VLT conserves over 2,000 acres and partners with other organizations to protect Vinalhaven's most special and beloved places. In its 25th year, VLT embarked on an ambitious Anniversary Campaign with financial goals that will enable us to act on a land conservation opportunity and fulfill our long-term stewardship responsibilities.
Photo by Mike Mesko
Stewardship: As a young land trust we focused on conservation. As we mature, however, we expect our next 25 years will be defined by our stewardship work, the means by which we protect the property in our care and manage public access.
This path on the Granite Island Trail - a delicate and exquisitely beautiful area on the western shores of the Basin Preserve - allows one to explore one of the fifteen preserves for which VLT needs to provide perpetual care.
Land protection opportunity:
The Campaign for Tip Toe Mountain
Photo by Kerry Hardy
Many folks in town were surprised to learn that Big Tip Toe Mountain was private land. Several people have told us they had always assumed it was part of the town park. Recently, however, it was put up for sale. As a result, it was at risk of being closed off to the public. If a house were to be built on the height of land overlooking the top of the mountain, it could have meant an end to sunsets over the Camden Hills from Big Tip Toe for the rest of us.
In response to appeals from islanders who have grown up with the legacy of Tip Toe sunsets, the land trust board decided to acquire the Tip Toe Mountain property to preserve this part of our island heritage. Anyone who visited our booth on the 4th of July will have seen the maps and photos of the area we have now preserved for future island generations. These materials are on view at the land trust office for anyone who’s interested.
Photo by Kerry Hardy
The VLT board always looks at the property tax impact when considering a piece of land. When we learned that Tip Toe Mountain was for sale, we asked the owners if they would be willing to divide the property, allowing us to preserve the part most valued by the town and leaving the rest on the market. They agreed. That remaining 15-acre lot has several possible building sites. Once that lot is sold and built on, the increased taxes should equal any taxes lost by protecting the undeveloped land around Tip Toe Mountain.
This is the same strategy used when we acquired the Granite Island Preserve from the Strawson family. The economic downturn has prevented the 2-acre building lot carved out from the preserve lands from selling, but while we wait for a buyer to come along, VLT has paid the full tax assessed by the town.
Meanwhile, preservation of the properties around the Basin makes it possible for all of us to walk or sit by the Basin shore whenever we want. And like the Basin, Tip Toe is a place of value to islanders. If it had sold to a private owner, much would have been lost.
Photo by Kerry Hardy
One of the surprising things about the high ground between Big Tip Toe and Little Tip Toe is that it is easy to get to. Since the climb up Little Tip Toe is notoriously steep and Big Tip Toe is even more challenging, it was a happy surprise to discover that the ground in between the two peaks offers an easy walk and pleasant views for those who no longer wish to tackle the more strenuous climbs. Fortunately, this gentle and serene spot will remain a place of refuge for those of us who aren’t so nimble any more.
VLT closed on the property at the end of September. Many year-round and summer residents have quietly joined the campaign, but with tens of thousands left to go on the stewardship component of the capital campaign, we are down to the wire. Donations of any size will be welcome at P.O. Box 268 or at the office. Donation envelopes can also be found in the VLT kiosk in Skoog Park and can be left in the donations box. Thank you to all those who have already joined the campaign.
Please help us wrap up the campaign by the end of the year.
“Accredited land trusts meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The accreditation seal lets the public know that the accredited land trust has undergone an extensive, external review of the governance and management of its organization and the systems and policies it uses to protect land.” Tammara Van Ryn, Commission Executive Director
Vinalhaven Land Trust began the work necessary to seek national accreditation in the fall of 2008, thanks to a grant from the Maine Land Trust Excellence Program*, which allowed VLT to hire a coordinator to oversee the long and thorough process of preparing VLT's application. In reality, the work that qualifies VLT for accreditation began over 25 years ago with the organization’s conscientious founders, who laid the framework and principles by which the organization has always done its work. Over the years, each new board member, staff person, and eager volunteer has contributed to the high standards that have enabled us to achieve this prestigious mark of excellence.
Sheri-Romer Day, Accreditation Coordinator
Vinalhaven Land Trust originally adopted the Land Trust Standards and Practices as its guiding principles in 2005. In order to achieve the coveted accreditation status, however, VLT had to prove that we actually implemented these principles, and that they guide all decisions made and actions taken by the organization. Our “proof”, shown here by our coordinator Sheri Romer-Day, was held in two notebooks containing more than 1300 pages and weighing over 15 pounds!
Land Trust Standards & Practices are the ethical and technical guidelines for the responsible operation of a land trust. They cover the areas of:
- Compliance with Laws
- Board Accountability
- Conflicts of Interest
- Financial & Asset Management
- Volunteers, Staff, & Consultants
- Evaluating & Selecting Conservation Projects
- Ensuring Sound Transactions
- Tax Benefits
- Stewardship of Conservation Easements
- Stewardship of Fee Lands (Preserves)
As Vinalhaven Land Trust strives to promote the conservation of our island’s significant plant and wildlife habitat, our water resources, and our scenic and historic spaces, in order to preserve the traditional character of our community for future generations, rest assured that we will continue to maintain the highest of standards.
Anyone interested in knowing more about the guidelines is invited to stop in at the VLT office or see them on the Land Trust Alliance website at www.landtrustalliance.org/training/sp.
* This work was made possible through the Maine Land Trust Excellence Program, a partnership project between Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Land Trust Alliance with support from private donors and The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Winter Moth on Vinalhaven
Winter Moth ©entomart
Vinalhaven saw a significant flight of winter moth this past December. In anticipation of the event, trees were banded all over town. Everyone saw them, both trapped in the bands, and flying in swarms into lights, homes, and just around.
Charlene Donahue (Maine Forest Service entomologist) had predicted this event last spring as she gathered caterpillar evidence around the island. It was thought that the infestation was limited to only two places in Maine - Vinalhaven and Harpswell - but reports are now in from many towns along the coast of the eruption of moths.
What we don't know at this time is the extent of damage we will see in the spring. The females don't fly, and it is hoped that the tree banding will have prevented the females from reaching the top of the trees and depositing the larvae to hatch and eat the new leaves in the spring.
Specific information about Vinalhaven's moths can be found at Kirk's blog. Information on the life cycle and threat of winter moth is available from the Maine Forest Service. In response to her visit here, MFS entomologist Charlene Donahue has developed a full question and answer sheet. Even more information resources are listed in this link.