Western Foothills Land Trust © 1987–2018   About | Contact


Western Foothills Land Trust is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.  |  EIN# 01-6083123

WFLT PO Box 107, 445 Main Street, Norway, Maine 04268  |  207-739-2124

Board of Directors


Robert Van Nest, President - Norway

With a MA from Columbia University, Bob and his wife settled on an historic farm in Norway and started our area’s farmers’ market in the 1980s. Bob spent his career teaching French and coaching Nordic skiing. An avid birder, cyclist and gardener, Bob is completely committed to land conservation.


Joseph Zilinsky, Treasurer - Otisfield

BA, Bowdoin College, MA, PhD. University of Indiana in Microbial Physiology. Retired with his wife Callie to Maine after 30 years teaching microbiology and biology at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. Joe enjoys languages and works his forest and farm lands with a pair of draft horses. Joe and Callie placed a conservation easement on their farm in 2011.


Jeff Chase, Director - Bryant Pond

Retired USPS employee and life long resident of Norway, avid wildlife enthusiast, Jeff knows every inch of our region and is invaluable on the Board.


Carl Costanzi, Director  - Norway


Sarah Dailey, Director - Otisfield

Sarah is a mother of two young boys and is training to work with developmentally-challenged youth.


Alex Miller, Director - Norway

Alex graduated from Northland College with a bachelors degree in philosophy and geology. He has thruhiked the Appalachian Trail 3 times and has honed skills in land surveying, GIS analysis/ mapping, and timber framing. Alex is a gardener, potter, cook, and lives year-round in a hand-made canvas yurt.


Lorie Olson, Director  - Norway


Richard Sousa, Director  - Norway


Sarah Timm, Director

Sarah is a fourth grade teacher at the Agnes Gray School in West Par-is. She and her husband, Aaron, have two children, Silas, 12, and Alden, 14. When not teaching, Sarah helps Aaron at their shop, Green Gardens in South Paris.


Sienna Tinsley, Director  - Portland


David Watson, Director - Otisfield

Ann and David Watson donated an easement on working forestland that was historically part of the Stone/Pottle/Scribner family holdings in Otisfield.


Jeff Wilson, Director

Jeff is a graduate of UMass Amherst and Boston College Law School, and is a partner at Braun & Wilson PLLC in South Paris. Jeff and his wife, Sarah live in Norway with their son, Oscar, and Obi, a chocolate lab. An avid hiker, Jeff is drawn to the work of the Trust in providing public access to recreational assets in the Oxford Hills.



Lee Dassler, Executive Director - Otisfield

MS, Columbia in Historic Preservation, with a background in theatre, carpentry, and architecture, Lee was the founder and Executive Director of the McLaughlin Garden in South Paris, Maine and has been involved with WFLT since 1994. When not writing grants, she enjoys riding, triathlons, yoga and working on her historic home.


Kelley Hodgkins, Program Coordinator - Norway




A Message from the President


"Western Foothills Land Trust is dedicated to the conservation and protection
of native ecosystems, farm and forestlands, watersheds, and scenic landscapes
for the benefit of wild and human communities in Western Maine."


Landscape architects often mention the need for “bones” within gardens. By that they mean woody shrubs, small trees, and structures such as trellises, walls, and pergolas. These bones give gardens points of focus, references that draw you in, and allow a flow to develop. Too few of these or too randomly placed and gardens are static and lack definition. But properly done, they create an architecture within which the rest of the garden finds its identity.


Of course, with a land trust our “gardens” are necessarily larger and our “bones” a bit more subtle. We deal with material such as river frontage, ridgelines along mountains, and hayfields around historic farms. They help define western Maine’s landscape; and, once protected, give it a separation from the formless development taking place elsewhere. We now have over 7000 such acres in our gardens, and they contain many constructions that create a unique natural architecture.


Within this structuring we endeavor to avoid a randomness of choices. Instead, more and more, we aim at contiguous lands: farms residing side by side, strands of river frontage, and blocks of woodlands at a scale that brings a landscape into view. For thirty years, within the neighboring, the convergent, and the adjacent we have been building the “pergolas” and “trellises” that help define the foothills of western Maine.


Some constructions are definitely more lasting than others. During the great fires that swept through this part of the state in 1947, people often had to abandon homes so quickly there was no time to close their doors behind them. Bereft of custom, the only invitation from their dwellings was to the flames that would consume them. Fortunately, we use a different template, and what we build has a permanence from which no leave is taken. We have built a framework of our own terrain; and in its frame, flow, and focus, a gate is always open and beckons to us all.


Thank you for your support,

Bob Van Nest, President





Board of Directors

Robert Van Nest, President

Joseph Zilinsky, Treasurer

Jeff Chase

Carl Costanzi

Sarah Daily

Alex Miller

Lorie Olson

Richard Sousa

Sarah Timm

Sienna Tinsley

David Watson

Jeff Wilson



Lee Dassler
Executive Director


Kelley Hodgkins

Program Coordinator

Bob Van Nest and Jeff Chase at Virgil Parris Forest

Bill Gibson with Lee Dassler (far right) at Roberts

Bob Van Nest at Roberts farm view


Joe Zilinsky (center) with Bobby and Jerry on the Zilinsky farm