Big buy: Midcoast Conservancy picks up HVNC land for $1.2M

Posted:  Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 8:00am

Midcoast Conservancy is a renter no more on the land of Hidden Valley Nature Center in Jefferson. With private and public funds raised over one year, the Edgecomb-based conservancy has bought the 950 acres it had been leasing since HVNC and three other groups merged to become the conservancy in 2016, executive director Jody Jones said.

The $1.2 million buy on Dec. 28 is important on a number of fronts, according to Jones. In a phone interview after an email announcement Jan. 10, she said it shows the nonprofit has the broad support needed to raise a lot of money in a short time. “We’re stronger together than we were separately.”

The organizations that formed the conservancy – HVNC,  Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association, Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association and Sheepscot Wellspring Alliance — never completed a land conservation project of that size, and so quickly, she said.

“We blew those records out of the water.”

A third of the money raised was a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. The rest came from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Jane’s Trust and private donors, including all the conservancy’s board members. Chairman Susan Russell called last month’s purchase just the beginning. “We’ve been hard at work identifying over 2,500 very special acres in need of protection ... from the headwaters of the Sheepscot River to the southern end of our region. We are always eager to find people wanting to help,” she states in the announcement.

The buy from Bambi Jones and Tracy Moskovitz permanently protects the acreage, Jody Jones said. Open space in southern Maine became more developed than anyone expected and buying large tracts helps avoid those losses for Midcoast Maine, she said in the interview. “We’re very excited,” she said about the buy.

Large scale protection  of land was a key aim of the merger, the release states. It adds, the HVNC parcel is diverse in wetlands habitats and has vernal pools, a mile-plus of shore on Little Dyer Pond and nearly a mile of Stearns Brook frontage; among the amphibeans found there has been a rare four-toed salamander. Miskovitz and Bambi Jones bought the acreage over multiple purchases dating to 1993.