Midcoast Maine’s newly merged conservation groups, now known as the Midcoast Conservancy, have found a new home in the Wiscasset building formerly occupied by Coastal Enterprises Inc., or CEI.
The eight staff members of Midcoast Conservancy are in the process of moving into 36 Water St. in Wiscasset, which they have leased from CEI Inc. for a one-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2016, Midcoast Conservancy Executive Director Jody Jones said.
The conservation group’s new location on the banks of the Sheepscot River is fitting, Jones said, as the Sheepscot Watershed is one of the key resources the group is devoted to protecting.
The move marks a new beginning for the Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association, the Hidden Valley Nature Center, the Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association, and the Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance.
The four conservation groups agreed to merge into one regional conservation organization, the Midcoast Conservancy, over the summer.
The new group will become a legal entity Jan. 1, 2016. “We are merging to become one more resilient, more effective, and more efficient organization,” Jones said. “We’re pretty excited about this.”
The separate groups are already in the process of moving into their new building, which CEI vacated in October when it moved to its new headquarters in Brunswick.
“We’re glad to have someone in there who will utilize the space,” CEI Chief Operating Officer Corenna Howard said. “We’re happy to offer the opportunity to an organization that’s a partner in what we believe in.”
Midcoast Conservancy is devoted to promoting healthy lands, waters, wildlife, and people in the Midcoast, according to the Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association website. The organization is a steward to approximately 6,000 acres of conservation land, making it one of the largest regional land conservation organizations in Maine.
Midcoast Conservancy’s land stretches from Westport Island to Montville in Waldo County.
The conservation group is aware that Wiscasset is an inconvenient location for some of its members, Jones said. The Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association’s headquarters in Jefferson will be open during the summer and potentially on-demand during the off-season, she said.
While the Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance has closed its office in Liberty, the Midcoast Conservancy will still hold meetings in the town, Jones said. A volunteer meeting is already scheduled for March 2016 at the library in Liberty and local businesses have offered the organization meeting space when needed. “We want to keep in close touch with the people who helped us get where we are,” Jones said.
The Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association building on Sheepscot Road in Newcastle will be vacated, Jones said. The Midcoast Conservancy Board of Directors will determine what to do with the building at its January 2016 meeting. While not official until the board takes a vote, the group is considering putting the building on the market, she said.
There are a number of benefits to the conservation group’s new location in CEI’s old building in Wiscasset, Jones said. The building is large enough to hold the group’s eight staff members in addition to community meeting space, which none of the former offices could provide.
“We’re excited to be able to offer space to our members and for our programs,” Jones said.
CEI’s buildings on Water Street are still on the market, Howard said. The lease with Midcoast Conservancy is a great opportunity to “test drive” the building and the location to see if it works for members and staff, Jones said.
“Our landlords are very supportive of our organization and we’re thrilled to have such a great location,” Jones said. The Midcoast Conservancy anticipates it will be fully moved into the building and operating out of it by Monday, Jan. 4, 2016.