The Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (BRCA) is dedicated to conserving the lands, water quality, and natural heritage of the Belgrade Lakes Watershed. Founded in 1988, this grassroots group has grown into a combined land trust and lake trust with over 1200 members, dedicated to protecting the watershed through land conservation, watershed management and protection, education and outreach, and implementation of conservation projects. The BRCA works with area lake associations, state and town governments and agencies, other conservation groups, and private landowners to preserve the area’s natural resources and maintain public access for low-impact recreational activities like hiking, fishing, hunting, canoeing, and cross-country skiing.
Our Land Trust has conserved over 8,000 acres through fee purchase or conservation easements, including the 6,500 acre Kennebec Highlands. A major consideration of our land acquisition strategy is preservation of water quality through protection of headwaters streams and wetland corridors.
The BRCA Education and Outreach Committee develops programs designed to highlight the linkages between the land use and water quality. Programs include public lectures, guided hikes, canoe trips, nature walks, etc.
The Belgrade Lakes Watershed faces threats from accelerating development pressure, invasive species, erosion, and other damage caused by overuse. Once opportunities to protect our lakes and lands are gone they can not be reclaimed, but by joining the BRCA you can help seize conservation opportunities and meet these challenges.
BRCA Properties/Other Land Holdings
Since its foundation in 1988, BRCA has protected almost 3,000 acres through land acquisition and conservation easements. Acreage totals 674 in Rome, including popular recreational spots like The Mountain, French Mountain, and Mount Phillip, 131 in Belgrade, 469 in Mount Vernon, 278 in New Sharon, 244 in Norridgewock, 108 in Oakland, 344 in Smithfield, and 88 in Vienna.
Total land owned: 1874 acres
Total land under conservation easements: 1058 acres
Any piece of land protected by BRCA, whether through ownership or conservation easement, carries with it an obligation. As a land trust for the public benefit, BRCA has the responsibility to manage all of its lands with an eye to serving the public interest. This is the expectation placed upon BRCA by landowners who give land or easements to BRCA to preserve, by members who donate money to buy land and to support BRCA, and by volunteers who donate their time and energy to carry out this mission. All of BRCA’s efforts in this direction – everything that can be and is done regarding a property once BRCA acquires an interest in it – fall under the general heading of “Stewardship.”
BRCA’s Stewardship program includes other activities consistent with BRCA’s mission, such as education and outreach. The BRCA Stewardship Handbook provides a framework for BRCA’s Stewardship activities and a resource for Stewardship personnel.
In 1998 the BRCA initiated a project to protect the Kennebec Highlands in Rome, Mount Vernon, Vienna, and New Sharon. Within 20 miles of Augusta, Waterville, and Farmington in central Maine, the Kennebec Highlands’ 6,500 acres contain the highest peaks in Kennebec County, miles of pristine streams, several wetlands, and five undeveloped ponds. The area is home to moose, deer, bear, waterfowl, fish, and other wildlife and is blanketed with hardwood and mixed-wood forests, blueberry barrens, and marshes. State wildlife officials have identified six deer wintering areas and five wetland habitats of critical importance to waterfowl and other wildlife. Miles of trails in the highlands provide access for hiking, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, and fishing and a host of other outdoor pursuits.