The idea for a land trust grew from a meeting of several neighbors in the Tatnic area of Wells and South Berwick to discuss the development pressures that were being felt in the late winter of 1986. At the same time, the Conservation Commissions of North and South Berwick were also exploring ideas of land protection. In May of 1986, the Great Works Regional Land Trust was officially formed, with the mission of providing landowners with a means of protecting their lands from future development through conservation easements.
The accomplishments of the years since are enormous. We started slowly, gathering experience and support, and during the next few years work was begun to protect the York Pond area and several easements were completed. Until late 1994 no land was owned by GWRLT. We saw ourselves as a service organization. The donation of a parcel of land initiated a major shift in outlook and, after much debate, the Board decided that, in order to protect significant lands in our communities, the Trust would actively seek, purchase and hold title to parcels that furthered the mission of the Trust. Partnerships were initiated with The Nature Conservancy, York Land Trust and the State of Maine to conserve lands in the Greater Mt. Agamenticus area. By the end of 1995, a total of 13 projects had been completed, protecting over 1250 acres.
The next five years saw major fundraising campaigns to both purchase property, on our own or jointly with other conservation organizations, and to fund the management of Beach Plum Farm in Ogunquit, which was donated to GWRLT. In 2000 we began working with 11 other organizations on the Greater Mt. A Conservation Initiative to protect 7000 additional acres. The work we have done and continue to do creates a valuable local presence within the State's conservation efforts in the Mt. Agamenticus region.
The work of the Trust is now fairly equally split. We work with landowners to protect family holdings through conservation easements and we actively fundraise and work with landowners to provide them with options to sell their property and still see the land conserved. To date we have conserved over 4000 acres. Twenty-two years have shown what can be accomplished by deeply committed individuals, working together to preserve open space in this beautiful part of Maine.