1. Washington Bicycling Across The USA Land Stewards

Day 4: Loup Loup Pass, Margie’s RV Park

The heat has become our enemy. By noon it’s nearing 90, and by 2pm on the highway the temperature is well above 100. It doesn’t start cooling down until 6pm or so. “We go in and out of heat like this in August,” said a local man at a rest stop on Thursday afternoon. The Methow River was just below us, running cool and clear over large smooth stones, but a steep slope of nasty-looking brush separated us from the water. “It can go up above 100 for a few days like this,” he said. “Nobody goes out in it unless they have to.”

Unfortunately, we have to. The forecast is: hot on Friday, hotter than that on Saturday, and hotter than that on Sunday. Each day we have to climb 3,000 feet to a mountain pass. So what we do to make it work is get up before sunrise and do as much of the ride as possible before noon. If you’re on the road after 1pm, it isn’t fun any more; after 2pm, you get cranky; and after 3pm, things could easily go seriously wrong in several different ways. But we had a great time despite the heat. On Friday, Day 4, we started at 8am and ended at 2pm at one of the best campsites yet. It was another beautiful ride, although a different kind of landscape this time.

We woke up at the KOA in Winthrop and rode south down the Methow Valley in slanted early morning light. We startled the mule deer, ogled beautiful old ranch houses, watched a hot air balloon on a morning joyride, and clucked with disapproval whenever some software millionaire’s Sundance-style palace appeared. Before long we were in the town of Twisp, which wasn’t much, and I looked in vain for some indication of how they came up with that name.

Heading out, we were hailed by two of our new friends: Jason Paulsen, director of the Methow Conservancy (left), and board member Tom Doran. We chatted for a while and they told us about some really exciting stuff there were up to, including a $20 million capital campaign. We were reluctant to leave, but the sun was climbing.

We turned east and started up a truly deserted road, climbing toward Loup Loup Pass (“Loup Loup” is another word for a Pomeranian or Spitz dog, but I didn’t see any). Sage and rabbit brush lined the road at the base, along with a farm where fresh-cut alfalfa was drying in the field. Before long we passed the entrance sign to the Okanogan National Forest, pronounced with a long “O”. Trees started to appear: Ponderosa and Lodgepole pines, Cottonwood and Manzanita along the banks of a small creek we could hear but couldn’t see. We went up 2,300 feet over 12 miles and hit the top of the pass right at noon.

The downgrade from Loup Loup Pass was delightful. It was not as steep as the Big Down from the Cascades that Kenny Cuthbert had warned me about, so there was less white-knuckled braking and more cruising with the wind in your face. We went down and down some more until we had lost more elevation than we had gained. The trees thinned out and the sage came back, and before long there was hot air, and then hotter air, and then air much hotter than yesterday’s hottest air. None of the Forest Service campgrounds we had passed had water, and we were getting low when our saving graces, Sara and Catherine, passed us and pulled over and refilled everything. After thanking them profusely, we turned north again and started down into the Okanogan Valley, and then it got really hot.

The Okanogan Valley is prime fruit-growing country, thanks to the great big Okanogan River flowing through the middle of it. Nothing would grow without irrigation, but when you combine the water with the desert’s lack of bugs it produces delicious pears, plums, cherries, and lots of other fruit. It also produces apples that are not as good as New York’s, because they never go through a real cold snap. But since Washington apples are cheaper to produce and ship, they are often the ones you’ll find in New York supermarkets. So if you’re grocery shopping and it doesn’t say where the apples came from, always ask for the ones from New York.

If Winthrop was all make-believe Wild West for rich tourists, the connected towns of Okanogan and Omak were a harsher Western reality. Just east of these towns is the huge Colville Indian Reservation. We could see small houses out in the desert baking in the sun. It was the kind of road where you’d find a large kitchen garbage bag, full of food waste and other crap, casually tossed in the ditch. We rode past a plant that turned pine trees into pellet fuel for stoves; we saw tents out in the fruit fields, so the workers would have somewhere to get out of the sun; and it got hotter. The Okanogan River is a beautiful, deep channel lined with trees. It was a balm to our boiling eyeballs as we slowly pedaled down a long, straight road toward our goal. Fortunately the road was flat, and there was a tailwind. On one of the most desolate stretches I saw one of those roadside memorial crosses. It had plastic flowers at the base and the words “MARY, 1968-2002” burned into the unpainted wood.

We got to our destination – Riverside, pop. 300. We went into their one little store to drink the coldest thing they had. Sitting out front, we said hello to an elderly man with a cane, and then to his wife, who was wearing a pink t-shirt that said Wauconda Garden Club, blue jeans, and white deerskin gloves. “I’m on my way to the garlic festival in Tonasket,” she said. “The hippies grow it up there.” The club sold barbecue and last year they had raised $1,000, she explained. I asked whether it was a formal event, because of the gloves, and she laughed and said that she was wearing them because her steering wheel was too hot to hold onto. Across the street was a great-looking old-fashioned western store. I would have bought a straw cowboy hat if I could have carried it in my bike bag.

When humidity is low, the contrast between sun and shade is dramatic. Margie’s RV Park is a small mom-and-pop place near the highway with big green lawns and shade trees, and as the afternoon wore on it seemed like the best place in the world. Our campsite was under a Catalpa tree, a variety that Sara and Jim both had in their yards when they were growing up. We went down and jumped in the Okanogan and chatted with a young man who was with two little kids and a pretty girl. The girl was pregnant and smoking a cigarette. Then Jim and I got back in the truck and went to Wal-Mart in Omak to get energy bars. Sara and Catherine had done a big grocery shop earlier but had not found these, and Jim and I were surprised to find out how finicky we are in this category. HE likes Luna bars, even though the packaging says they’re made for women.  I like Clif bars because they remind me of the big messy cookies you used to get in hippie bakeries in the 1970s.

Back at the campsite, we had burgers and chocolate and quickly packed up and went to bed. The forecast for tomorrow is even hotter than today’s forecast was. As soon as the sun disappeared, it got pleasant; as the night deepened, it got cooler; and somewhere in the middle of the night, I pulled on my down sleeping bag.

1. Washington Bicycling Across The USA Land Stewards

Kalispel Conservation

When we rode down LeClerk Road on Day 8, south along the Pend Oreille River, we passed through the reservation of the Kalispel Tribe of Indians. The forests were healthy, the open space unusually diverse, and their wildlife management area beautiful. Jim and I pulled into tribal headquarters and were lucky to run into Deane Osterman, Executive Director of Natural Resources for the Tribe. Deane is a serious, fast-talking guy who has clearly studied this stuff. He calls himself a “wildlife warrior.”

The Kalispel’s ancestral territory ran to 4.2 million acres, but the U.S. government reservation they got in 1914 is 4,600 acres strung along the river. “What the treaties did was cut away our rights to the land,” said Deane. “Our long-term goal is to restore the land.”

The tribe has acquired about 5,000 more acres outside their original grant to manage as conservation lands, using settlement money from suits against the Bonneville Power Administration and other entities that have damaged the habitat. “Most of this land had just been pounded,” he said. “And the Pend Orelle is the watershed most impacted by hydro development in the Pacific Northwest.” There are at least eight dams on the river, which flows northward from Idaho into Canada, does a 180 degree turn, and dumps into the Columbia River right at the border. “The summer water temperature can be eighty degrees, and native fish like salmon cannot live in water that warm,” he said. “There are no native fish left in the river.”

One part of the Tribe’s wildlife farm raises large-mouth bass for the Pend Oreille. This is controversial because bass are non-native, but Osterman says the Tribe is encouraging sustenance hunting and fishing for its members. They also plan to pour Rotenone into a tributary, Cee Cee Au Creek, to kill all the the brook trout, which are not native, then re-introduce native cutthroat trout. North of their land is what Deane says is the most endangered animal in America – an American species of caribou. There are about 25 left. “Caribou, bull trout — they are really Pleistocine species, and now with climate change they’re just blinking out,” he said. “That is really sad.”

The Kalispel operate a large casino outside of Spokane, but Osterman’s department is self-sustaining from settlement money. “It really is a war for wildlife,” he said. “And land trusts play a critical role. Sometimes we can’t get ourselves in gear fast enough to make a land purchase we want, but they can.” The Tribe is making a major contribution to the Inland Northwest Land Trust to further their partnership.

Our fifteen minutes were up. “Got to go,” said Deane. “Can’t keep the Tribal Council waiting.”

2. Idaho/Montana Bicycling Across The USA Land Stewards

Montana: Flathead Land Trust

The Flathead River meanders through a 40-mile corridor after it leaves Glacier National Park. It winds south to Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River.  It’s mostly on private land, and the land is under intense development pressure as an urban corridor emerges between Whitefish and Kalispell.  We met with Marilyn Wood, Executive Director of the Flathead Land Trust. She took us to a knoll overlooking the undeveloped north shore of the lake.  “This is an iconic Montana landscape,” she said.  “If we can’t save this, we ought to just pack up and go home.”

The Flathead Land Trust serves Flathead County, an area bigger than New Jersey.  Since 1985 it has protected nearly 10,000 acres, and last year the board decided to focus on saving the river.  Wood is getting to know the landowners along the corridor, including eight farm families that control the north shore of the lake. The Land Trust is also applying for grants and lobbying Governor Brian Schweitzer and Senator Max Baucus, both of whom are sympathetic.

“This is a very conservative place politically,” says Wood.  “We have been called ‘nature Nazis.’ A few years ago the state Nature Conservancy office had to close down for a week because of death threats.  But at the same time, I have never run into a place that captures people’s imagination the way this place does.  We’re talking about a significant chunk of change to get the job done, but it’s do-able.  We’re aiming for one-third private donations, one-third state money, and one-third Federal.”

Local people love the forests and farms along the river, and especially along the north shore of the lake, says Wood.  The drive to preserve the shore got going when two Whitefish developers proposed turning one of the farms into a 300-unit luxury housing development.   The Flathead Trust hired Wood a year ago; she is a long-time Montana resident who spent 13 years with the Nature Conservancy, and is well known in the state.  She immediately shifted the organization into high gear.  “Imagine three hundred homes in that field, with trees planted between the houses and the highway so you wouldn’t even know the water is there,” she said as she drove us around.  “The County Commissioners here are pro-development, but people came out of the woodwork to oppose this.”

The Commissioners turned down North Shore Ranch’s proposal in the spring; the developers are working on an appeal.  That setback and the soft real estate market gave the Land Trust an opening.  They have signed a purchase agreement to acquire a 160-acre farm on the North Shore for $1.9 million. The farm is adjacent to a state wildlife refuge.  Most of the money will come from a one-time state fund set up in 2007, and the Land Trust’s plan is to turn the farm over to the state.  “Flathead Lake generates about $10 billion a year for the state,” she says.  “We have a vision for the north shore that includes a state park, regional open space protection, and a bike trail. Governor Schweitzer and Senator Baucus embrace that vision. The County Commissioners don’t yet, but we’re working on them.”

There are indications that the public supports the vision, too.  Flathead County voters have approved a ballot referendum for November that would use property taxes to fund open space protection.  A poll found that 64 percent of voters would approve a $10 million bond, and 61 percent would approve $15 million.  “We have people behind us who are all the way from Obama Democrats to rock-ribbed Republicans,” said Wood.

I think the Flathead Trust ought to send the North Shore Ranch developers a box of cookies.  Wood says that the question of what to do about the river corridor has been hanging in the air for a long time. The development proposal called the question, just as it did in the Adirondacks, or in Canandaigua Lake, NY, or in hundreds of other places.  In the end, it comes down to whether or not the community has the will to protect its natural beauty.  Today things look good for the Flathead River.  Wood and her board are out there working like hay farmers who see rain clouds on the horizon. They’re conjuring up the community.

3. Wyoming Bicycling Across The USA Land Stewards

Sheridan Community Land Trust

The Sheridan Community Land Trust is a newborn with important friends. “Three years ago we did a community assessment and discovered strong support for protecting the treasures we have here,” says board member Judy Slack. The mayor of Sheridan (Dave Kinskey) and a Sheridan County Commissioner (Terry Cram) lead an effort to set up a community land trust and gave it start-up money from city and county budget lines that support non-profits. The group has 12 board members, a part-time executive director, and volunteers who work on four committees. It also has a broader focus than most conservation-oriented land trusts. The four working groups cover open space, recreation, and wildlife; affordable housing; agricultural easements; and historic preservation.

We met Judy and Chuck Bentzen, a member of the open space group, at the Land Trust’s first easement, a nine-acre stretch of the Little Goose River just south of town. Protecting river corridors is likely to be a major focus. Roger Wilson, a board member who is active on the land protection side, says that the group is particularly interested in protecting the Tongue River from Sheridan north. Seven private owners control this stretch of the river. Wilson is talking with them and with people at the state and federal levels, as well as the Nature Conservancy.

The Sheridan Land Trust is also allied with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, which is a major player out here. Ranchers who don’t want their spreads carved up into second home sites are lining up to donate agricultural easements, says Bo Bowman, who coordinates the donations. The Stock Growers Association is a big, influential group of landowners. Some of them are quite wealthy, and most of them are rock-ribbed small government conservatives. But this isn’t a partisan issue, says Slack. People who love the big, open landscapes of Wyoming have all kinds of political views. Since land trusts are nonprofit organizations that make voluntary agreements with private landowners, at arm’s length from the government, they can talk to small-government folks comfortably. And anyone who has valuable land can save quite a bit on their local property taxes and get a big federal tax credit by donating an easement.  This is especially helpful if the donor hates to pay taxes.

It will take a lot of money and clout to do something like this, and Wyoming has both. The Padlock Ranch (where we met the Governor’s conservation tour) has donated large agricultural easements to the Stock Growers Association, and the Nature Conservancy owns similarly large easements on ranch property in the eastern slope of the Bighorns. Sally Morton of the Conservancy’s Wyoming office sits on the Sheridan Land Trust’s board. “The big groups are working on big projects,” says Slack. “Our group is focused only on Sheridan County, so we are going to take the neighborhood-level things they can’t do.”

Slack is active in the historic preservation group, which is trying to negotiate the first easements in the state of Wyoming that protects the exteriors of historic buildings, trails, archaeological sites, and other historic resources. “The local lawyers have never seen a preservation easement before,” she says. “But there is a need for it. Ranches that donate agricultural easements often have landmark stone barns and houses that are essential to the character of the place, and this is the way to protect them.”

As a community land trust, the Sheridan group also aims to set up affordable housing in a community where rising home prices are forcing working-class people into marginal living situations. “We will own the land, the Sheridan Housing Action Committee will build the houses, and the homeowners will take out long-term leases with us,” says Slack.

It sounded to us as if the Sheridan Land Trust is actually three or four groups under one not-for-profit umbrella. The group is mostly in the planning and idea stage, and there are going to be some rough spots when the differing agendas of preservation, affordable housing, and open space protection advocates meet on the Board of Directors. But Sheridan needs all three things badly. Sprawl and gentrification are ramping up with the energy boom, and the group will be challenged to choose which opportunities to follow. Slack says the group hopes to secure one or two easements a year for the time being, while it develops membership and fund-raising. That would cover the tip of a very large iceberg. The elements are in place for very rapid growth, if the group can handle it.

8. Ontario Bicycling Across The USA Land Stewards

Days 56 & 57: St. Thomas to Long Point, ON

Car trouble stopped the trip and made us anxious on Sunday night. On Monday the 5th, Jim got up early and took the truck to the dealer while Sara and I waited in our luxurious hotel rooms. At 10 am Jim returned with good news: one of the brake lines had rusted through, and the repair was relatively minor and quick. We were back on our bikes by noon.

St. Thomas was not on our route and we didn’t see much of it, but there was one notable thing. Jumbo the elephant, an international celebrity and the star of P.T. Barnum’s circus, died here 123 years ago. His death was a high point for yellow journalism. Here is the dispatch from the New York Sun of September 18th, 1885:

“After the show in St. Thomas, the elephant driver started down the track with Jumbo and the baby elephant, Tom Thumb, to where the Grand Trunk Freight train was standing. There are a great many tracks at that point, used in switching cars on the Grand Trunk Air-Line, which there joins the main track. There was a train and on the other a steep embankment. As a train came around the curve the keeper tried to induce Jumbo to go down the embankment, but he would not.

“The reason at first was not apparent. The baby elephant was in the rear, and as the train approached Jumbo began to bellow and swing his trunk. The little elephant seemed dazed, but did not get out of the way. As the engine was closing upon them Jumbo raised on his hind legs as though to protect the baby, and then quick as thought dropped down and grabbed him in his trunk and hurled him with great force over all the tracks and against a freight car, twenty rods away, where he dropped down, whining like a puppy with a sore foot. Jumbo in saving the life of his protégé, entirely neglected his own chance to escape. The locomotive struck him will force in the side, crowding him against some cars on the siding nearest him and fairly squeezing the life out of him.

“When they came to the end of the switch the engine left the tract with five freight cars that stood on the siding. Then there was a scene never to be forgotten by those who witnessed it. The mangled beast roared with pain, and the little elephant roared as loud as he could in sympathy. The crush was too heavy to leave any chance of recovery and the bystanders could only wait for Jumbo’s death. It was not long delayed. In three minutes he turned over on his back dead. It was found that the baby elephant sustained a broken leg and as there was no help for him, orders were given that he be put out of his misery, which order was carried into effect yesterday afternoon.”

Other sources don’t support the story that Jumbo died trying to save a baby elephant’s life, so this may be another P.T. Barnum tall tale. But like so many of them,it stuck.  A century after Jumbo’s death, the community collected donations and erected a life-sized statue of the beast on the edge of a high embankment. It is a fine statue and a good story, and it makes me suspect that this must have been the biggest thing that ever happened in St. Thomas. Like Elvis or JFK, Jumbo became bigger in death than he ever was in life.

Barnum stuffed the hide of Jumbo and exhibited it for several years, and Barnum is the reason why we now say that something is “jumbo” instead of staying it’s extra big. After Jumbo’s hide stopped drawing crowds, Barnum donated it to Tufts University, where it became the official mascot. The hide was destroyed in a fire in 1975. According to Wikipedia, the ashes of Jumbo are kept in a 14-ounce Skippy Peanut Butter jar in the office of Tufts’ athletic director.

We said goodbye to Jumbo and drove to the provincial highway where we had stopped the day before. We started east around noon, with just 45 miles to go to our campsite at Long Point Provincial Park. The wind had shifted and was coming from the northeast, so we rode into it for most if the day. This slowed us down and might also have made us more observant. The road swung close to the lake and went past well-kept farms harvesting sweet peppers, apples, soybeans, potatoes, and corn. There aren’t many places in Canada where a farmer can make a good crop of sweet peppers, but the north shore of Lake Erie is one of them.

We stopped in Port Burwell at a restaurant that served fish from the lake. Jim made a face when he was offered perch, but I had a fine pickerel sandwich. Even more satisfying than the sandwich was the smug knowledge that I had eaten local food, as all good Greenies should. Sara had the same idea. She went to a farm stand and got delicious fresh peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes for us to feast on for dinner. East of Port Burwell we started to see wind turbines, which went on for 15 miles along the lakeshore. A roadside plaque explained that these were the Lake Erie Shores wind farm. There are 66 towers generating 99 megawatts of electricity here, enough to power 24,000 homes,

Not everyone is happy in this paradise of local food and clean electricity, however. We also saw lots of drying barns for tobacco that had been abandoned. The owner of a small general store in Clear Creek explained that the government had set aside $286 million to buy out tobacco farmers, but the money hadn’t arrived yet and the farmers were running out of options. He also explained to us why the Canadian shore of Lake Erie is not lined with second homes and cottages, as is every lakeshore in New York. Canadian farmers in this district are prohibited from subdividing their land, he said. Most of the shore is in an agricultural reserve program and is legally required to remain in production. He was not happy about this. It reminded me of the Adirondack Park, a place that city people treasure as a natural jewel while the locals grumble about not being able to make a living.

Day 57: Long Point Provincial Park

We entered the Long Point Biosphere Reserve, where a 25-mile sand spit that juts into Lake Erie is reserved for the use of migrating birds. The peninsula itself is a mixture of privately owned land that is protected by a Nature Conservancy easement, and a national wildlife refuge that is accessible only by boat. The government of Ontario, local citizen groups, Ducks Unlimited, the United Nations, and even the State of New York have contributed money and time to make sure that this area remains prime waterfowl habitat. Farms are paid to ensure that there’s lots of waste corn for birds to eat. No-nonsense signs keep you from walking into the bird areas. The fine for trespassing is $225.

The star of the show here is the Tundra or “Whistling” Swan, which is pure white except for a black bill and has a eight-foot wingspan. The swans descend on Long Point in late February and stay until mid-March, stopping to rest and refuel on their way from wintering grounds in Florida to their nesting sites in the arctic. When they’re here, the ranger said, they sit in the huge marshes that line the inland side of the peninsula and make an incredible racket. You have to see it to believe it, she said. But the big preserve is a mixed blessing for ducks, because you’re allowed to hunt them. We heard shotgun blasts until dusk.

The most remarkable thing about Long Point is that the public is not allowed to walk onto the spit itself. Five or six miles of private land separates the provincial park from the wildlife refuge, which runs to the tip of the peninsula. The private land is a hunting camp owned by a group of wealthy Americans and Canadians. The Nature Conservancy brokered an easement on this land, along with the donation that created the wildlife reserve. Unless you have a boat, you can’t get to the good stuff. Very clever. I was reminded once again of the way land conservation works in the Adirondacks.

We took Tuesday off and went into a nearby town to do some errands. We also walked around the Provincial Park, which was about to close for the season and was almost empty. But it was a clear, warm day, which gave me the unexpected but exquisite treat of sitting on a deserted beach in a camp chair and staring at the waves until my brain waves resembled a dial tone. We finish our Ontario ride on Wednesday and Thursday, and on Friday we start through New York.

9. Vermont/NH/Maine Bicycling Across The USA Land Stewards

Taylor Farm, Londonderry, VT

Jonathan Wright worked at the Taylor Farm when he was a teenager in the 1970s. When he came back to Vermont in the late 1980s, the farm needed so much work that the Taylor family let him live there just to keep the place going. “Everything was obsolete,” he said. “And after a while I just decided to go with that. Now I’m proudly obsolete.”

In 1996, an investor bought the 500-acre farm from the Taylor family. Instead of making a housing development out of it, the investor sold an easement to the Vermont Land Trust on the pastures and woodlot and sold the remaining 22 acres, including the house and barns, to Wright. “I had had some success with making cheese, and they saw that the farm could work economically,” he said. “The Land Trust also saw that this is the kind of place where people are encouraged to walk around and look at things, and it gives them a good feeling about Vermont agriculture. It is the kind of farm landscape they want to protect.”

Taylor Farm grazes 50 cows on 60 acres of pasture. It is a “farmstead cheese” operation, which means that Wright will not take in milk from other farms to make his cheese, even though it would make him a lot more money. “There are a lot of advantages to staying small,” he says. “For example, when we bring the cows in, all we have to do is wash their udders with a disinfectant. At corporate farms the cows are fed high-protein feed, so they have loose stools and lots more chances to get infected, so you have to bring in all kinds of measures to control that. We don’t have to go there.”

Taylor Farm was one of the Vermont Land Trust’s first forays into agricultural easements, which have since become a major focus of the organization. Over 97% of respondents to a survey completed by the Council on the Future of Vermont said that they value the state’s working landscape and heritage—more respondents agreed on this than any other statement in the survey. When asked about the challenges facing Vermont, over 92% of respondents said that they were concerned about the health and viability of Vermont farms and the agricultural sector—making this the second highest concern of respondents overall.

Wright spends a lot of time on boards and government groups promoting Vermont agriculture, and he has seven full time employees and more who work part time. The farm turns out about 100,000 pounds of cheese a year and is famous for its smoked gouda. “I don’t have to advertise at all,” he said. “And I think we’ll get through the recession pretty well. You might not build a house during a recession, but you can always spend $10 on a wedge of cheese and feel better about yourself.”

9. Vermont/NH/Maine Bicycling Across The USA Land Stewards

Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm

Our ride ended at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wells Beach, which is located on a preserved 2,200-acre site stitched together from five old coastal farms. Farmers began cultivating this land in the 1670s and kept working it for 300 years. When the last private owner died, local residents formed the Laudholm Trust to buy and manage the properties. The 1910 owners gave the name to the main home and barn complex by combining “laud,” to give praise, with “holm,” a meadow on the shore. The Farm Trust was established in 1982, and the Reserve was dedicated in 1986. The Trust now has about 2,500 members.

Wells is one of 27 National Estuarine Research Reserve sites scattered around the country. State and local sources are the base of support for these sites, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration matches their support with a federal grant 2.3 times the original amount. Wells is the only site that relies on a private not-for-profit organization as the local source (all the others have state funds). The Reserve monitors the health of Maine’s estuaries, which are under increasing pressure from housing development. “We’re trying to show how commercial fishing and community clam beds depend on clean water. People need to understand that degrading those estuaries has an economic impact on the state, “ says Jeremy Miller, a researcher at the lab.

We spoke with Laudholm Trust President Diana Joyner in the Trust’s offices inside the renovated farmhouse. “The reserve is a mixture of things,” she said. “It’s a precious piece of open space for people in Maine. There aren’t many places on the coast where you can hike on seven miles of trails. It’s also a community space where people get married, have parties, and gather in all kinds of ways. And it’s also a research facility. The Trust’s job is to keep the community engaged at a high enough level to make sure the research continues to get the funding it needs.”