On behalf of the Somerset Woods Trustees board, I would like to welcome our new executive director, Jennifer Brockway. We are fortunate to have Jennifer join us as she has many years of experience in the land conservation community. Most recently, she led the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust for many years before starting her own consulting business. Her experience will be valuable to not only the Trustees but to all Somerset land conservation efforts.
Jennifer lives in Troy with her husband and two children. They share a small homestead with a rescued mammoth white donkey named Rudy. We asked her a few questions to help you get to know her. -- Jack Gibson, president
How did you come to be involved in conservation leadership?
I grew up in Maine, hiking and paddling with my forester dad, so the outdoors have always been important to me. I studied environmental science and policy in college (Duke in North Carolina) and spent time in Kenya and Washington, DC pushing policy. Eventually I realized the futility in all of that and started exploring other ways to effect change, and I also started trying to figure out how to return to Maine. The answer was Maine’s land conservation community. I’ve been working in conservation and restoration ever since, either as land trust staff or through my consulting business and the Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District.
What drew you to SWT?
I wasn’t planning to join a land trust again, but ultimately the combination of a hard-working board and the opportunity to work on the Kennebec was hard to resist.
Tell us about your family!
My husband, Brett, works for ReVision Energy. I have two children; Eli starts middle school in the fall and Balin, first grade. We live in Waldo County, where we’re pretty privileged to have 25 acres of diverse habitat on the edge of hundreds of acres of undeveloped woodlands and bog. The birds and wildlife are nonstop. It’s a great playground for all of us. I’m not always a fan of living so remotely, but then I take a walk out back and remember why I’m here.
What do you like to do outside?
I appreciate any time outdoors! I am an avid trail runner and especially enjoy technical trails that force me to focus on where I’m landing my feet – that way I can enjoy a enjoy a good run without allowing the pressures of life to creep in. Our family hikes, camps, bikes, paddles, swims, skis, sugars … really any excuse to be outdoors and away from the screens!
Do you have a favorite SWT place yet?
SWT has so many special places. Weston Woods & Waters is pretty phenomenal - so much river frontage, history and community involvement. Really, every parcel I’ve explored so far has a remarkable element: as you crest the hill on the approach to Jacob’s Pines, the aesthetic of looking down into the pines; at Young’s Preserve the sounds of the stream accompany a fun climb; at the Eaton preserves it's the stunning trees and fun terrain. There are so many properties and every one is memorable.
What are your hopes for SWT?
SWT lands are a tremendous community asset. Active management of the lands already conserved, together with strategic new acquisitions, could be a game changer for the Kennebec and its communities.
Do you have a favorite author that inspires you?
You will laugh, but I find inspiration in a children’s book, Frederick, by Leo Lionni. It is the story of a mouse who teaches his family there is more to life than the basics of food, water and shelter. While his family toils to fill their winter stores, Frederick collects the details of the summer – details he uses to warm his family on the coldest winter day. I t is my excuse each time I linger outside at sunset or stop to breathe in deeply after the rain. It is a reminder to experience life, not simply live it. -- Jennifer
From open fields to forests; from walking trails to mountain bike trails; from picnic sites and playgrounds to water access: we offer all of this to those who live or visit Somerset County.
SWT has an exciting new acquisition project to announce: the protection of a 38-acre parcel with 750 ft of frontage on Wesserunsett Stream. Adjacent to our Swimming Hole lot in Skowhegan, the protection of this land will offer expanded and improved access to new trails to be developed along the stream.
SWT has purchased 275 acres of pristine forest in Madison with over one mile of water frontage. If you have paddled the Kennebec between North Anson and Madison, then you have traveled around much of the Weston Woods peninsular. This region includes exceptional wildlife habitat. It is the largest Maine Natural Resource Focus Area on the Kennebec River and also is an Important Wading Bird Habitat area. Once Phase 1 trails are complete, there will be over 3 miles of passive recreational trails.
Thanks to the generosity of two members of the Weston family SWT has secured a mile of land and trail easements along the Kennebec River. Beginning at the town's boat ramp park, the trail winds along the river to Weston Avenue, just a few steps from the future trailhead into Weston Woods.
The Weston Woods and Waters trail will cross the future extension of the state's Bingham to North Anson rail trail from North Anson to Oakland. Furthermore, there is an existing snowmobile trail that crosses Weston Woods that will also cross near the new rail trail. SWT plans to support regional efforts to capitalize on this trail system to stimulate eco-recreation for our Kennebec River towns. The multi-use trails will be accessible from Main Street in Madison.