Planning & Initiatives
The Upper Saco Valley Land Trust’s motto is Preserving Land for Community Benefit. How do we fulfill our mission? By securing the long-term protection of valuable natural resources — and through community initiatives. What is our vision? A vibrant, diverse and thriving local economy based in part on the wealth of natural resources we work to protect. Working farms and working forests, with local sources of distribution to match local sources of production. Our community initiatives tie directly to this vision:
Regional Food System Work:
Our service area boasts some of the most productive and fertile agricultural soils in the northeast, and yet many of our area farms face challenges. USVLT is concerned about our regional food system as a whole, and we know that conservation of ag land only one component of a healthy agricultural system. In addition to permanently protecting our precious agricultural lands, we want to increase size and the resiliency of local markets, support beginning farmers, and increase collaboration within our local food system. In so doing, we join other statewide and regional organizations, such as UNH’s Sustainability Institute and Food Solutions New England. These groups assert that New England has the potential to produce more than 50% of its food by 2060, and that such a regional transformation would come with significant economic, health, and environmental benefits. We agree.
In 2015 and early 2016, USVLT conducted a “gap analysis” of our regional food system. We wanted to see what obstacles each of the segments of our food system face (the five segments are production and harvesting, processing, distribution and marketing, consumption, and waste management — see the image above). The final report showed numerous areas for improvement in our food system, and specifically encouraged USVLT to take an active role in collaborative distribution and marketing, among other goals. The full report is available here.
USVLT is also the fiscal agent for the North Conway Farmers’ Market and was instrumental in getting the market started in 2013. See the North Conway Farmers’ Market Facebook page or their website for the latest news.
In September 2016, USVLT hired Jesse Wright as the first of her kind, Local Food Systems Advocate. This grant funded position is charged with looking deep into the local food system here in the Mount Washington Valley and western Maine and moving the needle on many of the issues that our “gap analysis” highlighted. To get in touch with Jesse regarding her work as the Local Food Systems Advocate, email info (at symbol) usvlt.org.
Strategic Conservation Planning:
In 2010, USVLT embarked on a 3-year planning process to highlight the areas in the 11 towns we serve that have the highest level of natural resources present — and the greatest need for protection. Essential to the planning process was feedback from the communities we serve. The strategic plan culminated with numerous elected officials working across town and State boundaries for common conservation goals. More on the Strategic Conservation Planning Process.
Build-out analysis with the Towns of Eaton and Conway:
As part of our Strategic Conservation Planning Process, USVLT contracted with FB Environmental to conduct a build-out analysis for the towns of Conway and Eaton. With funding from these two towns and other private sources, USVLT modeled what development could look like if the trends of the past 50 years are any predictor for the next 50 years. Of paramount concern was potential impacts to water quality, from potential impacts to the stratified drift aquifer system that serves as drinking water for our communities to potential decline of water quality and clarity in our beloved area lakes. In one particular example, phosphorus inputs into Conway Lake could double in the next 50 years without smart growth strategies in place. Such “phosphorus loading” does have direct impacts on lake systems, unless we are proactive in continuing to protect the places we love. Please contact us for copies of the report.