We are builders and we consume materials when we build homes. The homes we build have a local impact and a much broader footprint. Converting open meadow or woody lots into irrigated landscapes changes the hydrologic cycle. So does tree farming and logging (if you'd like a quick refresher on the hydrologic cycle, there's a good one here http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycle.html). We try to improve our building practices to minimize our impact, but we know that isn't enough. So in an effort to offset our activity we support organizations that focus on conservation in the 10.4 million acre Maine North Woods, the largest remaining undeveloped forest in the Eastern United States, as well as organizations active in our local communities.

The Little W: A Big Win

The Forest Society of Maine worked in partnership with thoughtforms, the state of Maine and other donors to acquire 81 acres of forestland and two miles of waterfront on the north shore of Moosehead Lake, known as the Little W, for public access and use. The property had been a family-owned tree farm for generations and is entirely surrounded by conservation lands. But like many forestry holdings in Maine's North Woods, the long-time owners decided to sell. In this instance, they hoped the land would remain forest but could only wait so long for conservation groups to secure funding and make the acquisition. The US Forestry Service recognized the conservation value of this land and included the project in their Forestry Legacy Grant "Top 20". But in 2013 as Washington shut-down and state-level funding for conservation got tangled in partisan politics, the project was at risk. As the deadline loomed we made a pledge that closed a critical funding gap. In December 2014, the project came together. The Little W will remain undeveloped.

Learn more at http://www.fsmaine.org/little_w_shoreline.shtml

A New National Park?!

As development pressure increases in the North Woods, a number of conservation groups have responded with "conservation pressure." We have supported conservation efforts by the Appalachian Mountain Club, The Natural Resources Council of Maine, RESTORE: the North Woods and the Forest Ecology Network. And 2013 was a year of progress: Roxanne Quimby offered her Eliottsville Plantation property, adjacent to Baxter State Park, to the National Park Service.

Learn more about these organizations and their efforts to preserve the North Woods:

Appalachian Mountain Club https://www.outdoors.org/conservation/wherewework/maine/

Natural Resources Council of Maine http://www.nrcm.org/project_woods.asp

RESTORE: the North Woods http://www.restore.org/index_noflash.html

Forest Ecology Network http://www.forestecologynetwork.org/

Conservation in our communities

If you live in the Boston area, you see the impact of development everyday: new homes, new shopping centers, watering bans, new traffic lights to deal with the increasing number of cars. There are a number of organizations working to preserve what we can. For example, Massachusetts Audubon http://www.massaudubon.org/our-conservation-work is the largest non-government conservation land holder in the state. And both small organizations such as the Charles River Clean-Up Boat http://cleanupboat.org/ and larger organizations like OARS http://www.oars3rivers.org/ focus on our watersheds. We do what we can to support these organiations financially and by volunteering our time.

Climate by the Numbers: Do the Math

The sustainability introduction in our website quotes MIT's John Sterman, an internationally recognized leader in systems thinking who focuses on climate modeling and policy. A few of us at thoughtforms have stayed involved with MIT and their sustainability thinkers. What we are learning at MIT makes us feel we ought to support http://350.org/ Take a moment to see what they're about and why the number is 350.