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  • Writer's pictureJessica Cyr

A community effort

Updated: May 10

As residents of South Berwick, we are not just fortunate but also responsible for preserving the natural beauty that surrounds us, from the old lava supplier that is Mount Agamenticus to the serene Salmon Falls River. This preservation is not a passive act of appreciation but an active duty that requires our continued support.

In the 2024/25 budget, the Town of South Berwick continues its long-standing contributions to various conservation programs. The proposed budget allocates $4250 towards the Mount Agamenticus coordinator, $300 for the town forest and other conservation programs, and $200 in total for the Great Works Regional Land Trust (GWRLT) and the Maine Association of Conservation Coordinators. The Conservation by budget has stayed the same since 2016 (the oldest Town Report posted to the website). While any contribution towards conservation is valuable, it's important to consider the scale of the efforts required to maintain open spaces and $4750 on a $9million budget helps to put in perspective just how little taxpayer dollars are involved, given that 20% of our land is under conservation easement.

On the other side of town, the Great Works Regional Land Trust (GWRLT) has been making remarkable strides in conservation. Their successful fundraising efforts for the Salmon Falls Tidal Waters project demonstrate the power of determined individuals to better the community.

Thanks to the exceptional efforts of the GWRLT, the Salmon Falls Tidal Waters project has made significant strides toward its goals. In November 2022, South Berwick voters demonstrated their support by approving $250,000 in Undesignated Funds towards the land acquisition. Through a combination of grants and generous donations, the land trust successfully met its fundraising target to acquire the necessary land for the project without needing the $250,000 from South Berwick. As a result, the land trust approached the Town Council with a revised request: $200,000 to be allocated towards start-up costs for the site. I feel like this adjustment represents a savings of $50,000 for taxpayers, made possible by exceptional work completed by the GWRLT to secure additional land acquisition funding.

As a proud financial supporter and long-time member of the GWRLT, I urge you to recognize the importance of supporting such initiatives. The request for $200,000 in Article 20 during the Town Meeting towards start-up costs for the Salmon Falls Tidal Waters project presents a unique opportunity to invest in the future of our community.

It's essential to acknowledge the interconnectedness of these conservation efforts. Preserving Mount Agamenticus and supporting projects like the Salmon Falls Tidal Waters are not mutually exclusive but rather complementary endeavors. Both contribute to the overall well-being of our community and environment. Outdoor recreation is important for so many types of users.

Mark your calendars for the annual Town Meeting for Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at 6pm at the Town Hall, on the 3rd Floor.

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