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In Memory of Bette Roberts

posted Jul 6, 2017, 12:13 PM by South Portland Land Trust

On July 5, 2017, Maine Memorial Co. installed a new bench at the Trout Brook Nature Preserve with the inscription, "Nature never did betray the heart that loved her."  The bench serves as a memorial to Bette Roberts, who was instrumental in creating the preserve.  

The South Portland Land Trust Board of Directors would like to thank Jeffrey Roberts for his generosity in making this bench possible.

Land Trust Donates Playground Funding to City

posted Jul 6, 2017, 11:09 AM by South Portland Land Trust   [ updated Jul 6, 2017, 11:13 AM ]

On July 5, South Portland Land Trust President, Kate Lewis, presented South Portland Mayor, Patti Smith, with a donation of $55,886 for the purchase and installation of a new playground in Sawyer Park at the corner of Main and Westbrook Streets in the Thornton Heights neighborhood.  They were joined by South Portland Land Trust Program Manager, Dugan Murphy, South Portland Parks and Recreation Director, Kevin Adams, and South Portland City Manager, Scott Morelli.

The contribution comes from a fund created by the South Portland Land Trust in 2015 for the improvement and ongoing maintenance of Sawyer Park.  Most contributions to this fund have come from members of the neighboring Congregation Bet Ha’am.

“We’re exited for the possibilities here for meeting residents’ recreational and open space needs in a part of the city that enjoys a disproportionately low acreage of park or green space,” said South Portland Land Trust President, Kate Lewis.  “This is along one of the corridors that serves as a gateway to South Portland.”

Representatives from Congregation Bet Ha’am synagogue, the South Portland Land Trust, and South Portland Parks and Recreation have been meeting since early 2016 to discuss possibilities for the new 2.3-acre Sawyer Park at the corner of Main and Westbrook Streets in the Thornton Heights neighborhood.  All three entities were instrumental in permanently preserving the City-owned open space in 2015 after the City received a development proposal for the property.

“We are thrilled to support the improvement of the park in this way.  The congregation’s vision was always to have this be a community space, including a playground, for all to enjoy,” said Sharon Newman, Past President of Congregation Bet Ha’am.

“This collaboration brought together the necessary resources to make improvements happen here,” said South Portland Land Trust Program Manager, Dugan Murphy.  “Everyone has brought something to the table.”

Formerly a playing field for Sawyer Elementary School, the property was used in 2016 as a laydown yard for the sewer and stormwater improvement work recently completed nearby.  Upon completion of that infrastructure work, the City built two pedestrian entrances to the park, placed benches, and planted trees and grass.  

Former South Portland City Manager Jim Gailey signed a conservation easement with the South Portland Land Trust in November, 2015, protecting Sawyer Park as an open space for public enjoyment.

Congregation Bet Ha’am is a center for Reform Judaism primarily serving about 350 families engaged in Jewish life and learning, and is located adjacent to the new Sawyer Park. The congregation offers regular opportunities for music and prayer and an open and progressive approach to ritual. Their building has won national awards for its cutting-edge environmental and architectural design.  To learn more about Bet Ha’am, visit

Pictured in the photo above L-R: Dugan Murphy, South Portland Land Trust Program Manager; Kevin Adams, South Portland Parks and Recreation Director; Patti Smith, South Portland Mayor; Chris Morelli, South Portland City Manager; Kate Lewis, South Portland Land Trust President; Sharon Newman, Congregation Bet Ha’am Past President.  Photo courtesy of The Sentry.

Trail Care Day July 16

posted Jun 27, 2017, 3:59 PM by South Portland Land Trust   [ updated Jun 27, 2017, 4:12 PM ]

The South Portland Land Trust Board of Directors has been busy this spring, monitoring our lands and trails and identifying issues that need to be addressed so our SPLT members and the South Portland community can better experience our land.

Please join us on Sunday, July 16th for Trail Care Day. We will meet at 9am at the South Portland Land Trust office building (473 Broadway) in Mill Creek Park, where we will be assigned work tasks, given tools, and disperse to the trails that need work. We ask you commit as much time as you are able to complete our projects, but we hope it will take no longer than a few hours.

RSVP to if you have a particular set of skills you think will be relevant to the work needed:
  • Bog bridge building 
  • Cutting back vegetation
  • Replacing wooden steps
  • Moving a foot bridge into place
The trails we will be working on are:
  • Long Creek Trail
  • Mt Vernon St Trail
  • Clarks Pond Trail
  • South Branch Trail
Thank you in advance for your help!

Sofia McNally Awarded South Portland Land Trust Scholarship

posted Jun 26, 2017, 4:32 PM by South Portland Land Trust   [ updated Jun 26, 2017, 6:02 PM ]

Sofia McNally
On June 9 in the South Portland High School auditorium, student Sofia McNally received a $500 scholarship from the South Portland Land Trust.  McNally was chosen for this award based on her dedication to outdoor leadership, education, and conservation.  

This is the second scholarship awarded by this organization.

“The South Portland Land Trust Board of Directors created this scholarship program to support local students with a dedication to environmental stewardship,” said Land Trust Board Member Bethany Woodworth.  “Sofia is a great match.”

McNally’s interest in environmental stewardship is based in a love for environmental science, marine biology, and physics.  She is also an alumnus of the Acadia Institute of Oceanography summer program in 2015 and 2016.

McNally will be attending Eckert College in St. Petersburg, Florida in the fall where she will be majoring in marine biology.

2017 Earth Day Cleanup a Success!

posted Apr 25, 2017, 12:21 PM by South Portland Land Trust   [ updated Apr 25, 2017, 12:26 PM ]
Thank you, South Portlanders!

Last Saturday, April 22nd, was the 47th celebration of Earth Day.  For years the South Portland Land Trust and the City of South Portland have partnered on a clean up of our beautiful City.  After skipping 2016 and after a long winter, our City was in dire need of a good clean up.  Despite cold and wet weather, almost 150 people signed in Saturday to get the job done. 

The SPLT and City want to thank the residents and businesses who participated.  It was a delight to see so many families check in while wearing their boots, rain gear and great smiles.  One family of four excitedly told me they filled seven large bags of trash.   Also joining residents were the US Coast Guard, SMCC, Protect South Portland, Pet Life Stores and other numerous businesses.

The unified effort cleaned up Willard Beach, Bug Light Park, the Greenbelt, Thomas Knight Park, Clark’s Pond Trail, the Long Creek Trail, Trout Brook Nature Preserve and dozens of other sites throughout the City.  We hope you notice a difference.
We also want to thank Soma Message and Wellness, Taproot magazine, Willows Pizza Restaurant, Jeff Ryan, Portland Intown Contra Dance, and the City of South Portland for donating prizes that were raffled off to ten participants.  I also want to thank Jeff Ryan and Richard Rottkov who volunteered their time to assure a successful event. We also want to thank Denise Michaud who was the volunteer photographer for the morning.  If you or your group want to join us for the planning of Earth Day 2018 please contact me and we will see that you are invited to plan and/or participate.  

The South Portland Land Trust would like to encourage all of you to consider every day Earth Day in South Portland.  For our future generations, it is imperative that we keep out city clean.  This ongoing effort will only improve our air quality, keep our watersheds and Casco Bay cleaner and will maintain healthy soils to allow for greater growth.  

Again, thank you for all that contributed on Earth Day and for those that make this effort a daily habit.  Our community needs and appreciates a clean and healthy South Portland!

Tom Blake

SPLT Board of Directors,

& on behalf of the Earth Day Clean Up Committee

View more photos here on Facebook!

South Portland Land Trust e-Newsletter

posted Apr 15, 2017, 7:19 AM by South Portland Land Trust   [ updated Apr 15, 2017, 7:20 AM ]

Foulmouthed Pub Quiz

Click here to read our newsletter, published April 14, 2017!

Trout Brook Nature Preserve Walk Rescheduled

posted Apr 5, 2017, 12:06 PM by South Portland Land Trust

Friday, May 12, 2017, 9AM
Get to Know Your Trails
Trout Brook Nature Preserve, 47 Parrott St, South Portland
Join the South Portland Land Trust in our Get to Know Your Trails walk series. This walk will take us to the Trout Brook Nature Preserve where we will learn the history of the area and walk the trails.  This event is rescheduled from late March, when icy conditions forced us to cancel.

Everyone is welcome!  This walk is geared toward the whole family, from infants to grandparents -- well-behaved dogs included!  Our walk will be fairly easy (lasting no longer than one hour) and will take place on dirt trails.  We will meet at 47 Parrott Street, South Portland, where you can park on the street. 

This event is part of the Get to Know Your Trails series.

South Portland Land Trust e-Newsletter

posted Mar 17, 2017, 9:02 AM by South Portland Land Trust

Click here to read our newsletter, published March 17, 2017!

Accomplishments in 2016 and Plans for 2017

posted Jan 26, 2017, 4:58 PM by South Portland Land Trust

Ten Best Accomplishments in 2016



The South Portland Land Trust Board of Directors is proud to announce the ten best accomplishments last year in achieving our mission to expand trail networks and conserve open space in our community!


  • Dow's Woods protected: Former Land Trust President Steve Jocher signed the conservation easement securing into perpetuity the 9.2-acre Dow's Woods Nature Preserve.  This followed South Portland Planning Board approval on August 23rd.
  • Sawyer Park funding: The Land Trust received almost $100,000 in donations from members of Congregation Bet Ha'am for initial improvements and ongoing maintenance of the new Sawyer Park at the corner of Main and Westbrook Streets in Thornton Heights.
  • Successful plant sale fundraiser: The annual plant sale fundraiser that the Land Trust hosts with the Community Garden Collective each year raised almost $1,000 more than last year!
  • More reached at annual meeting: The South Portland Land Trust Annual Meeting in November hosted more members than any other annual meeting in the board's collective memory and served as a successful forum for gathering input and updating membership.
  • New education program: Land Trust board members Sarah Stickney and Heather Drake started a new "Get to Know Your Trails" event series, at which attendees experience and learn the history of highlighted trails in South Portland.
  • Successful 5k fundraiser despite weather: The Bug Light 5K Run & Walk experieced a great show of participation despite the unseasonably low temperature and driving rain.
  • New Program Manager hired: The Land Trust Board of Directors successfully hired and trained new Program Manager, Dugan Murphy of Nuf Sed, who hit the ground running last March.
  • New scholarship program: Land Trust board member Bethany Woodworth created a new scholarship program for South Portland High School seniors involved in environmental stewardship.
  • Engaged city council candidated: Land Trust board members Richard Rottkov and Steve Jocher organized a forum focused on environmental issues for South Portland City Council candidates.  The Land Trust organized similar events in 2008 and 2009.
  • Organizational assessment completed: The board of directors sought consultation from professionals connected to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust in assessing the strength of the Land Trust's internal organization.  This process provided the board with a checklist of improvements to increase the organization's sustainability in achieving its mission.

Looking Forward to 2017



In planning our events, projects, and programs for 2017, the South Portland Land Trust Board of Directors would like to share these highlights.  Save the dates on your calendar and look for details to be announced later in the year!


  • Improvements to Sawyer Park: South Portland Land Trust Board President Kate Lewis is helping to lead the effort in collaboration with Congregation Bet Ha'am and the South Portland Parks Department to plan for and complete improvements to Sawyer Park this year, including a playscape for young children that could open this spring.
  • Growing stewardship of South Portland's trails: The board of directors recently decided to focus in 2017 on enhancing stewardship of South Portland's trail system.  This may include more frequent monitoring, cleanup activities, and/or maintenance events.  We will need community volunteers to adopt trails that they will monitor and help maintain.  If you are interested in helping to monitor, clean, and maintain trails in South Portland, please reply to this email with your interest so we can help you get involved.
  • Improved access to Dow's Woods: Now that public access to Dow's Woods Nature Preserve has been secured, we will be working to build out trail access into the area as the nearby housing development takes shape.
  • "Get to Know Your Trails" continues: Land Trust board members Heather Drake and Sarah Stickney will continue the "Get to Know Your Trails" series with events tentatively planned in March, July, and December.
  • Earth Day: We plan to host a trail cleanup event on April 22 in recognition of Earth Day.
  • Plant Sale: We are planning with the Community Garden Collective to host the ever-popular plant sale this May as a fundraiser for both organizations.
  • National Trails Day: We plan to host an event on June 3 to highlight one or more of South Portland's public trails.  The event will coincide with National Trails Day.
  • Greendrinks: We will be hosting a social event and fundraiser in collaboration with Portland Greendrinks on August 8 at Southern Maine Community College.
  • National Public Lands Day: We will be hosting a trail maintenance event on September 30 to coincide with National Public Lands Day.

“Hidden Jewels” Recognized at Annual Meeting

posted Nov 30, 2016, 7:07 PM by South Portland Land Trust   [ updated Nov 30, 2016, 7:11 PM ]

Hidden Jewels of South Portland Sample Presentation Slide

Forty members of the South Portland Land Trust and other residents of South Portland met at Fore River Brewing Company on Wednesday, November 16 to celebrate that organization’s recent successes and to learn more about outdoor opportunities in our community.  

The event was organized by Heather Drake and Sarah Stickney, both members of the South Portland Land Trust Board of Directors.  “Fore River turned out to be an excellent venue for our gathering,” said Drake.  “We were so pleased when they offered their space to us.”

Outgoing President, Steve Jocher, updated the group on the Land Trust’s recent success in establishing the new Dow’s Woods Nature Preserve off Highland Avenue near the South Portland High School, welcomed newly-elected board members, and thanked those leaving the board.  Sarah Stickney was elected as as Secretary, Heather Drake as Vice President, and Kate Lewis as President.  Steve Jocher and Mary Linneman are staying on the board, but stepping down from their officer positions as President and Secretary, respectively.  David Rooker will be leaving the board.

“I’m so grateful for the time and energy Steve Jocher has dedicated to the Land Trust over several years,” Lewis said.  “Under his leadership, we protected two new key parcels in South Portland, and have a very well-organized plan that I hope to work with new leaders to execute over the next several months.”

Continuing board members include Peggy Stewart (Treasurer), Mary Linneman, Charlie Baldwin, Tom Blake, Richard Rottkov, Jeff Ryan, Bethany Woodworth, and Bill Laidley.

Land Trust board member and South Portland Mayor, Tom Blake, shared a presentation of the “Hidden Jewels of South Portland” - twenty-nine lesser-known sites around the community, their location, and their histories.

Land Trust Program Manager, Dugan Murphy, sees the annual meeting as an opportunity to wrap up a successful year and to look forward to the next.  “I’m excited to run with the energy from this gathering and turn it into another successful year for trails and open spaces in South Portland,” Murphy said.

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