Damariscotta River Association and Pemaquid Watershed Association are pleased to announce that they have embarked on a formal exploration of a more integrated future for the benefit of both the Damariscotta River and Pemaquid River watersheds.
On Jan. 19, DRA Board President Joel Russ and PWA Board President Sandi Day signed a memorandum of understanding outlining a three-month process to assess areas for potential collaborative ventures and structures to enhance the missions of both organizations. From joint regional conservation projects to shared staff or co-location – possibly even unification – the organizations are considering a variety of options with no predetermined outcome.
The official team that will be engaged in almost weekly discussions over the coming three months will include Russ, Day, DRA Executive Director Steven Hufnagel, DRA Board Secretary Carolyn McKeon, and PWA board members Michael Kane, Jim Hatch, and Peter Lawrence.
Collaboration is nothing new for DRA and PWA. For decades, they have worked together for the common benefit of the two rivers for which the organizations are named, and for the well-being of local communities. One good example of where the organizations came together is the Crooked Farm Preserve in Bristol, which DRA and PWA conserved more than a decade ago and which they continue to manage in partnership.
Both organizations are deeply involved in the communities they serve and both rely on dedicated members and an active cadre of volunteers, along with professional staff, to support their vital programs.
While DRA and PWA have each developed a number of unique and valued initiatives, common activities include youth and community education, landowner outreach, conservation of treasured natural areas, trail building, and water quality monitoring. Specific areas of overlap and opportunities to enhance the programs of both organizations will be among the topics of study.
“We’re always seeking ways to be more effective in achieving our conservation and education goals,” said Hufnagel. “Even our initial conversations with PWA have demonstrated that great potential exists to build on our past individual and joint successes. The spirit is cooperative, trust is already established, and all of us are dedicated to moving forward in a way that strengthens our programs and furthers our missions, while maintaining the volunteer-driven and community-based approach we both bring to our work.”
“Historically, DRA may have been more focused on salt water and PWA on fresh water,” said Day, “but we all recognize that the fates of our water bodies are intertwined – with one another, with the health of the land, including the Pemaquid Peninsula, and with the well-being of our local communities.”
No final decisions about the form of future collaboration will be made without member input. Specifically, in addition to individual conversations, which are always welcome, both groups will hold formal gatherings where members and volunteers can ask questions and offer feedback in a group setting.
Both organizations are volunteer-based, membership-supported nonprofit land trusts, bringing conservation, open spaces, public hiking trails, education, and more to the local community. Learn more at damariscottariver.org and pemaquidwatershed.org.