Friday, March 3, 2017

Raymond Community Forest offers more than recreational activities By Lorraine Glowczak

A foggy morning stroll
It was a cloudy and foggy winter morning last Saturday, February 25 when Franklin Glowczak of Windham took an early morning walk, in the newly established Raymond Community Forest in Raymond, with his dog Zarah and her four-legged friend, Mallomar.

“This is the first time I have hiked the trails of Raymond Community Forest,” Glowczak stated. “I want to come back this summer and hike it again to see what it looks like in full bloom and without the foot of snow that remains today.”

It was just a year ago, when the Raymond Community Forest was a project - making its transition from the ownership of Hancock Land Company to the stewardship of Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT). With the sale and purchase on June 21, 2016, the 350 acres have been preserved forever and will provide recreational opportunities such as hiking, snowshoeing, biking and hunting.

However, the RCF does not only offer leisure time activities, it also provides Raymond and the surrounding communities, with educational, historical, cultural, environmental and financial advantages too.

“There will be an interpretive trail that offers interesting information, from tree identification to historical and cultural features to watershed quality,” stated Jon Evans, LELT Stewardship Manager. “The Raymond Community Forest will also continue to provide forest products to local mills, supporting the local economy, as it has for decades. Loon Echo elects to pay property taxes on its fee owned lands including Raymond Community Forest.”

Beginning as a dream by local preservationist and members of organizations such as the Raymond
Conservation Commission and LELT, the preserved land is based upon the community forest model.
Per the Food and Agriculture of the United Nations (FAO), the original concept established in 1978 regarding the community forest model includes, but is not limited to: 1) meeting the basic needs at a rural community level, 2) the provision of environmental stability and 3) the ability to generate income and employment for the rural area with the intent of “active participation of the population, with external involvement being of a supportive rather than management nature.”

In regards to watershed and the environmental impact on the drinking water provided to the towns of both Raymond and Windham (as well as the Greater Portland Area), the LELT places high importance on working with those in the Sebago Lake Region to ensure the high standards and quality of the drinking water remains.

“There are 200,000 people who obtain their drinking water from Sebago Lake,” stated Thomas Perkins, Executive Director of LELT. “We work collaboratively with other organizations such as the Portland Water District as well as home and land owners whose land filters water going into Sebago Lake, to ensure the quality of drinking water for 54,000 households.”

To guarantee not only the quality of southern Maine’s drinking water but to continue the recreational, educational, cultural and financial opportunities for the Raymond and Windham areas, community and monetary support is vital to the Raymond Community Forest’s success.

“Membership is what allows us to be stewards of the properties we’ve been given,” Perkins continued. “We are preserving the landscape and the rural characteristics of this area. Our conservation efforts create jobs. For this and many other reasons, Loon Echo is worth supporting.”

Financial support through donations and memberships are always appreciated. Fifty one percent of the operating revenue for LELT goes toward stewardship and the monitoring of 6,700 acres of property (nineteen conservation easements and nine preserves, including the Raymond Community Forest).

One can also support the organization by volunteering time to maintain not only the trails at the Raymond Community Forest but the many other 31 miles of trails that LELT oversee. Also, an individual can participate in the variety of free events that the organization hosts throughout the year - including the upcoming event on Saturday, March 11. The LELT invites the public to join their staff as they hike Pleasant Mountain 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
We do not need to travel far to get a dose of nature with the many trails at the community’s disposal - having the Raymond Community Forest right in our backyard.

“Maybe the most exciting aspect to consider,” Evan explains, “is that 100 years from now, this wonderful forest will be managed as it is today; for the benefit of animal habitat and water quality, while enhancing the quality of life of those that choose to wander through it.”

To learn more about Raymond Community Forest, to become a member, volunteer and to learn about all the events, visit LELT website:

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