Maine TREE installs interpretive signs at Holt Forest

Jack Witham, University of Maine research scientist, with new Holt Forest interpretive sign.

In a partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the Maine TREE Foundation (MTF) recently installed a series of interpretive signs at its 350-acre Holt Research Forest on the coastal island of Arrowsic. The signage program is the continuation of an effort to integrate Maine TREE’s educational programming at the forest, which it acquired in 2014 through a merger with the Holt Woodland Research Foundation.

Maine TREE, sponsor of the acclaimed Project Learning Tree program within the state, sees a growing opportunity for the Holt Research Forest as a base of outdoor learning for southern Maine students and families and for owners of forested land to convene to share best practices and learn from the on-going research activities sponsored there.  That effort was aided four years ago when the Maine SFI Implementation Committee (SIC) and numerous companies within Maine’s forest community supported nearly 20 volunteers in building an outdoor classroom at the Holt Research Forest.

“While COVID-19 has put a hold on hosting students and groups at the Holt Research Forest this year, Maine TREE continues to invest in improvements to the learning environment there, just as we have pivoted to creating virtual tools to support educators statewide at the same time,” said Executive Director Jonathan LaBonte.  “Maine educators will continue to need support for sustaining learning outdoors during these times, and Maine TREE has been responding with tools to show how Maine’s forests are a living classroom.”

The four interpretive panels, installed along a footpath from the designated visitor parking area to the outdoor classroom, highlight the history, ecology, research projects, and forest management activities at Holt Research Forest.

MTF owns the Holt Research Forest, which is the site of a long-term forest ecosystem study conducted through a contract it funds with the University of Maine. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) holds a conservation easement on approximately 285 acres of the Holt Research Forest and owns and manages the 51-acre Mill Pond Preserve, which borders it to the north. Funding for the project was provided by the Ed Meadows Conservation Fund.