Soil district plans education center

Posted Feb. 24, 2010, at 11:27 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:04 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Piscataquis Soil and Water Conservation District is proposing the construction of a natural and agricultural resource education and office center on Milo Road.

The Dover-Foxcroft Planning Board will review the final site plan for a proposed 76-by-50-foot building off Route 16 at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4, in the municipal building meeting room.

The building is proposed on land that was deeded to the district by Steve and Elaine Law and which lies across from Pleasant River Lumber Co.

“The Law lot has been a very significant donation to the district,” Steve Hobart of Blanchard, the district’s chairman, said Wednesday. “It offers a lot of potential for education use.”

Hobart said the district hopes to secure a federal Rural Business Enterprise Grant to fund the approximately $500,000 construction.

“We feel that by putting a building out there on the lot — an educational conference facility — that we will be able to entice the schools a lot more than the Williamsburg lot, which has a lot of potential, too, but it is hard to get to,” Hobart said. The district’s demonstration forest in Williamsburg Township is used for outdoor education.

Since the former Law property is off Route 16, Hobart said, the district feels schools and the public would use it more.

The Laws, who started the Kids and Trees Growing Together program on part of the property, have been unsuccessful in finding a school district or organization that would take over the Christmas tree program.

Steve Law said this week that the Abner Wade Masonic Lodge in Sangerville has expressed an interest in continuing the program. However, the details will have to be worked out with the district. The district’s plan for the new building does not interfere with the program.

Under the Kids and Trees Growing Together program, 5-year-olds from surrounding school districts planted Christmas trees with the understanding that they would care for them. The effort, started by Law, was designed not only to educate children about the value of trees and forestry practices, but also to provide financial sup-port to area high school seniors for their class trips. The funds would have been obtained by the harvest of the trees the seniors had planted when they were 5-year-olds. Because of budget woes, however, all of the school districts have since pulled out of the program.

While the district is not involved in the Christmas tree program, it is supportive of it and will promote it, according to Shelia Richard, the district’s executive director.

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