2017-10-20 / Front Page

Land trust names new executive director

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Rich Bard Rich Bard Rich Bard, the new executive director of the Scarborough Land Trust has been working in land conservation and wildlife for more than 20 years and now will be tasked with helping to preserve Scarborough’s scenic beauty.

Bard will replace Kathy Mills, who served as the trust’s executive director for five years before resigning in July to take the position of director and advancement officer for the Maine Farmland Trust.

Rick Shinay, president of the land trust board of directors said Mills was able to take Scarborough Land Trust to the next level and led the effort to preserve the 135- acre Benjamin Farm (now Pleasant Hill Preserve) on Pleasant Hill Road and Warren Woods, a 156-acre property on Payne Road.

“She was our first executive director, so we have no previous track record to build on,” Shinay said of Mills. “We had a good organization, but we lacked that central leadership. She came in and brought the trust from an all volunteer group doing the best it could to a well-run organization.”

Shinay also said Mills did a great job fundraising and connecting with donors, volunteers and the community during her time with the trust, which celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this year. Connecting with the community is something Shinay expects Bard to continue.

“In the interviews, he was highly personable and made a great impression and struck those who interviewed him as someone who would get along well with our donors, staff, volunteers and those who support the trust,” Shinay said.

For the last four years, Bard has been working at the Downeast Coastal Conservancy, a group that, to date, has protected more than 6,330 acres of land and 62 miles of shoreline.

“The Downeast Coastal Conservancy serves all of coastal Washington County and includes 20 something towns, so it is going to be quite a change to focus on just one town, but I am excited about it,” Bard said.

Bard said he and his wife had decided to move to the Portland area so his son could attend Waynflete School on the west end in Portland. When he saw the open Scarborough Land Trust executive director position, he knew it would be a fit for him.

Prior to working as the executive director of the Downeast Coastal Conservancy, Bard was a biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for close to a decade. He also worked as a wildlife technician for the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project from September 2001 to May 2004 and as an Animal Manager for the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, Louisiana from 1998 to 2001 and a zookeeper with the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo from 1994 to 1997.

Bard said he first got interested in land conservation when he worked in the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which manages 100,000 acres of conserved land across the state.

“That’s where I got my feet wet in land conservation and it really appealed to me,” he said.

Shinay said it was this experience that set Bard apart.

“We had a number of highly qualified applicants who came with various backgrounds and skill levels, but Rich stood out because he is the director of the Downeast Coastal Conservancy up in Machias area and the work he was doing for that group looked very much like the work we were looking to be done here.”

Bard’s hire ends six weeks of transition for the Scarborough Land Trust. The process of finding the next executive director began in late July when the 13-member board of directors began talking about how to “staff the gap” between Mills and her successor. Interviews began in late August/early September and an offer was extended to Bard in late September. Bard will be relocating from Machias will begin Monday, Nov. 13.

“He felt an obligation to give the Downeast Coastal Conservancy about a month’s notice, which is what Kathy gave us as well,” he said.

Shinay said Bard will join the trust during a “relatively quiet time for us,” having just come off the annual harvest supper at Broadturn Farm, a 434-acre parcel that has been under land trust conservation since 2004.

“Rich is coming in at a great time. I am pretty excited about the things we anticipate we can accomplish with him moving forward,” Shinay said.

“One of the things I worked on up here is making land conservation relevant to the communities we serve. I know the (Scarborough) land trust has done a lot of work with that. I look forward to digging into that particular aspect,” he said.

This year, the land trust celebrated its 40th anniversary. The trust was started by Wally Fengler, Mark McIntyre, Phineas Sprague, Rebecca Warren, Georgiana Chase, Robert Jensen, Teresa Messer and John Snow as the Owascoag Land Conservation Trust and by 1984 had changed its name to the Scarborough Land Conservation Trust.

In 2011, the group took its current name. In 1996, the land trust purchases Libby River Farm, a 123-acre piece of property next to Camp Ketcha and a 50-acre property abutting Scarborough Marsh. Five years later, in 2001, the land trust purchased the 180-acre Fuller Farm, which combined with a land donation from Dunn Estates, became 220 acres of land with frontage on the Nonesuch River. In 2004, the trust purchased Meserve Farm, a 434-acres piece of property on Broadturn Road and, after reaching a lease agreement with John Bliss and Stacy Brenner to operate a farm there, changed the name of the property to Broadturn Farm.

Since then, the trust has helped to conserve the 45-acre Gervais property in 2009, Frith Farm in 2010, 156-acre Warren Woods in 2012. In 2014, the trust worked to conserve Benjamin Farm and the Willey Recreation Area in the Pleasant Hill area of town and the Jannelle property off Roundabout Lane. The trust partnered with Maine Farmland Trust to conserve Comstock Farm on Berry Road in 2015 and Waterhouse Farm – the oldest farm in town - on Beech Ridge Road last year.

While the land trust relies on private donations and partnerships, much of the money used to conserve land comes from taxpayers and voters in Scarborough, who passed a $1.5 million land bond in 2001, a $2.5 million land bond in 2004 and a $1 million land bond in 2010.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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