Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust was formed in 2019 with the unification of two local conservation organizations, Damariscotta River Association and Pemaquid Watershed Association.

Both parent organizations developed from small advocacy organizations with a clear and important cause – the protection of a gem in Midcoast Maine from inappropriate development – into highly effective membership organizations, each with their own records of achievement.

Damariscotta River Association’s beginnings

Damariscotta River Association (DRA) was incorporated in 1973 by a group of Newcastle and Damariscotta residents concerned with protection of the Damariscotta River environment. Early goals included increasing public understanding of the river, its resources, its values, and its vulnerabilities, and fostering an appreciation of significant environmental issues and conservation tools as they existed at the time. The organization’s members worked to promote shoreline zoning, inventory natural and cultural resources, and identify properties and resources to recommend for conservation.

In the context of emerging development pressures in the area, DRA became a conservation land trust in 1987, and in 1988 purchased its first property (part of what is now Glidden Point Preserve) and received its first donation of land: Stratton Island, at the mouth of Seal Cove in South Bristol.

The origins of Pemaquid Watershed Association

Pemaquid Watershed Association (PWA) originated from the Biscay Pond Association (BPA) which was incorporated on August 26, 1966, by a group of residents concerned about a proposed land development project that threatened the quality of the pond’s water and the beauty of the area. Membership in the BPA grew in response to the interests and concerns of landowners around many of the other ponds in the Pemaquid River watershed, and the name of the organization was changed to Pemaquid Watershed Association in 1973 to reflect the expanded geographic scope. PWA’s service area encompassed the entire Pemaquid peninsula (population of 8,665), but the focus remained on the 47 square miles of the Pemaquid River watershed.

In the mid-1980s, pressure from intensive development activities became significant enough to provoke a major shift in the focus of the organization and in the way it responded to these pressures. At this time, the rapid acquisition by developers for quick subdivision and resale of large parcels of land in the watershed posed an increased threat to the environmental health of the watershed. In 1988, PWA became a land trust in order to more effectively protect, through the use of nature preserves and conservation easements, the beauty and natural integrity of the watershed.