Whew, 2020! I daresay it’s over, but probably not! The pandemic definitely impacted my business as most of my clients cut their budgets and several cancelled projects due to Covid-19 concerns. Thankfully, there were still some amazing conservation efforts going on in New England, so today I am able to share my favorite conservation photo and video assignments of 2020. So here they are in chronological order:
The Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire had me shoot several projects this year, but my favorites were a couple of new properties they protected near Merrymeeting Lake in New Durham, protecting recreation access and the water quality of one of the cleanest lakes in New England. More photos from that project and the next one on the list can be seen in a previous blog post: https://ecophotography.com/doubling-down-on-conservation-during-covid-19/
My next project involved several days of photographing several properties in the Bethel, Maine area known as the Chadbourne Tree Farm that were being conserved by the Conservation Fund. These properties included working white pine forests, some amazing wetlands and river frontage, and recreation access for rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, fishing, and more. Some of the lands provided critical habitat links between the White Mountain National Forest and the Mahoosuc Mountains.
In July, I made a quick trip to the Maine Woods east of Baxter State Park and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument that is the site of a proposed lead, zinc, and copper mining operation. It’s an area that’s popular with ATV’s and snowmobiles and the mine puts local streams and lakes at risk of toxic pollution (as well as the Mattawamkeag River.) The Natural Resources Council of Maine is leading the fight against this mine.
I came back from the Maine Woods to enjoy the broadcast premier (on NHPBS) of the film I directed for the Society for the Protection of NH Forests, The Merrimack: River at Risk. All of our other screenings to date have been virtual and I can’t wait to show this film on a big screen some day. The film has been well received and has already resulted in land being preserved along the Merrimack.
This above drone shot of sunrise over Casco Bay in Portland, Maine was from a project for the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership that I started in 2019 and finished up in 2020. I loved working on a project like this in and around one of the Northeast’s coolest cities.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine asked me to make another trip to the Maine woods to make some images of locations that will be negatively impacted by the proposed CMP electricity transmission line corridor. I shot some drone video about the same issue back in 2018.
Another trip to the Maine woods brought me to the north side of the Mahoosuc Mountains for the Forest Society of Maine’s Grafton Forest project. This is another big conservation effort, protecting more than 20,000 acres of wildlife habitat, recreation areas, and working forest. Where the Conservation Fund’s project (at the top of this post) helps the connect the White Mountains to the Mahoosucs, this one connects the Mahoosucs to Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge to the north.
The CMP transmission line mentioned above will cross the border from Quebec in a range of 3500+ foot tall mountains called the Boundary Mountains. In August, The Nature Conservancy acquired a new preserve along the border totaling close to 10,000 acres. Much of the preserve is high elevation spruce-fir forest and is very remote – dozens of miles from the nearest town via logging roads. It can be a challenge finding photos in these former industrial forestlands, an experience I wrote about in this previous blog post.
From May to September, I worked on a time-lapse and drone footage video of a large scale solar array installation in western Massachusetts for CVE North America. You can see the video and a few more details from the shoot in this recent blog post.
In September I also photographed several properties for the Northwest Connecticut Land Conservancy. This land trust (formerly Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust) protects more than 12,000 acres of land in the rural northwest corner of the state, which contains the hilly CT portion of the Appalachian Trail. I first met these folks way back in 2002 while shooting some projects in Kent, CT for the Trust for Public Land. I’m grateful to get the chance to shoot out there every few years, as I’m always impressed with how much it feels like the wilds of northern New England there, despite being relatively close to NYC.
I met the folks at Inland Woods and Trails (formerly known as Mahoosuc Pathways) in 2018, while shooting in the new Bethel Community Forest for the Trust for Public Land. I met them again this spring as they volunteered to model for my shoot of the Chadbourne Forest project mentioned at the top of this post. They build and maintain some of the coolest hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country ski trails in the western Maine mountains, and I jumped at the chance to shoot for them this fall to help them create some content for their new website. We got some great stills as well as some killer drone video that now graces their new home page.
Last on my 2020 list was the photo and video project I shot for The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire’s Great Bay. My colleague Ryan Smith and I spent several days in October capturing the work done by TNC marine scientists partnering with area oyster farmers to restore historic oyster reefs in Great Bay while also supporting an aquaculture industry feeling the pain of the pandemic’s effects on the restaurant industry. The details (and the video) of this story are in my previous blog post: How Creative Conservation During the Pandemic is Supporting Aquaculture.
I don’t remember much of 2020 being as easy as the above time when I was flying my drone and being kept company by my dog Jackson, but I do remember feeling a rare moment of calm then. I hope 2021 is filled with many easy and peaceful moments for you and your loved ones.