History of the Mountain Conservancy

An entomologist I was working with pointed out that there had been a huge drop in insect populations throughout this area, with no adequate explanation for this. As an amateur ornithologist, I have been observing a similar drop in certain bird populations, such as insectivores, etc. This drop in passerine bird populations has had an impact on the autumn hawk migrations which we have been studying since 1965 along the Maine coast. The hawk populations are way down to about 1000 per year from a high point of 10,000. Our entomologist friend, also a bird watcher, has said that we have to look towards the mountains to replenish the populations of insect and birds.

Furthermore, none of the organizations I have been associated with, including the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust (MATLT), the Trust for Public Land (TPL), Maine Audubon, etc., were specifically focused on biodiversity. This, to me, is an incredible scientific and conservation lacuna. In response, I formed the Mountain Conservancy of Northern New England with the basic mission to foster biodiversity thinking and action. It was incorporated as a nonprofit entity in November 2013.

Lloyd Griscom had been talking with me for several years about the situation here in the mountains with regard to conservation. He was particularly concerned with developing a “climate corridor” for species to move through as they are impacted by the effects of climate change. This focused our mapping and our strategy. He suggested we hire as a consultant Paul Mitchell, a cartographer, to prepare a number of maps of the region. The basic maps appear in the section “The Northern Appalachian Climate Corridor”.

Over the years I had become sick of hearing so much talk about the importance of conserving certain parcels of land, yet there were no efforts to raise funds to take action on it. The lack of movement, plus my concern with saving areas in the mountains for biodiversity, led me to take action on my own. Towards that end, I bought land on Lone Mountain in Township 4 Range 1, Maine, from Wagner Forest Management with Lloyd Griscom’s help.

On forming the Mountain Conservancy, we considered the possibility of hiring an executive director. But we made no major effort in this regard for reasons of lack of time. We had hoped that some references would come out of our discussions with various conservation organizations. We wanted someone who they were comfortable with. But no one was ever recommended.

Finally, one afternoon in talking with Lloyd Griscom and Wolfe Tone of the Trust for Public Land about the future of the Mountain Conservancy, I came up with the idea of forming a collaborative of the major organizations concerned with land conservation. And Wolfe agreed that this was a viable approach.

The goal of the Collaborative is to increase capacity for conservation in the Maine mountains.

For the initial meeting of the Collaborative, I invited representatives of organizations that were actually doing something in conserving land and forests. Please see the section “Collaborative”.

In addition to hiring Paul Mitchell to prepare maps, the Mountain Conservancy has also hired as a consultant an assistant to the Dean of the School of Forestry and Enviromental Studies, Yale University, to prepare a bibliography of all studies done in the mountain region - biotic, abiotic, historical, industrial uses, etc.

— G.N.A., Founder