Hacker’s Hill Campaign: Summer Fundraising Events

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

Chris Arnau and Brooke Lavilla, both of Naples, take in a sunset view from the summit of Hacker’s Hill recently. Loon Echo Land Trust will host an Acoustic Sunset with music performed by the folk genre band, Swampdonkeys, from 7:30 to 8:30 tonight, on Hacker’s Hill. (De Busk photo.)

CASCO – Does it ever seem like music should accompany the sunset? What chords would the ear hear if there were sounds to go with the setting sun?

This evening, viewing the sunset from Hacker’s Hill in Casco could be music to the ears.

Tonight, the folk music style of the band Swampdonkeys will keep beat to the final movements of the sun in the west. The Acoustic Sunset runs from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. The fee for attending the fundraiser is $10 for adults and $5 for children.

This event is the first in several summertime fundraisers to be hosted by Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) as it embarks on a year-long goal to raise the remaining $150,000 to pay the mortgage on the Hacker’s Hill land purchase.

According to LELT Executive Director Carrie Walia, “We have through the summer of 2013 to raise $150,000. Most of that money will go to pay off the mortgage, any balances on the purchase, and toward the endowment to care for property,” Walia said.

The purchase cost of the 27-acre tract on Hacker’s Hill is $700,000; an additional $100,000 is required for a perpetual care endowment, she said.

Most recently, the Nine Wicket Foundation in Portland awarded a $5,000 grant to the Hacker’s Hill Campaign and local businesses and summer residents continue to make contributions, Walia said.

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What: Acoustic Sunset Watch

When: Today (July 12) 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: On Hacker’s Hill

Music: Swampdonkeys

Cost: $10 per adult, $5 per child

What: Geology Walk and Talk

When: Saturday (July 14) 5 to 7 p.m.

Where: On Hacker’s Hill

Geologist: Walter Anderson and Robert Marvinney

What: Four-mile Hacker’s Hill Preservation Walk and Run

When: Saturday, Aug. 11, 8:30 a.m.; registration begins at 7:30 a.m.

Where: Starts on the Route 302 end of Quaker Ridge Road, near Blacksmith Winery

Entry fee: $20 for adults, $15 for children


So, the month of July kicks off another phase of fund raising.

This Saturday, a hands-on geology lesson will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. The Geology Walk and Talk is a repeat performance, and was an informative offering last year.

“People really enjoyed it. They didn’t know that Hacker’s Hill was an island after the glaciers receded and the Atlantic Ocean was inland. I think people were fascinated to learn that, and see explained through the rock formations,” Walia said.

Geologists Walter Anderson and

Robert Marvinney will head up that two-hour hike; and both rock hounds and novices are invited.

Also, in the summertime line-up: A four-mile run along Quaker Ridge Road and up Hacker’s Hill in the early morning of Aug. 11.

In the distant future, another hawk migration watch is likely to fall sometime in September.

However, the fundraising efforts start with a sunset – tonight.

John Gunn – part of the musical trio that makes up the Swampdonkeys, plans to pick up an instrument to illustrate his dedication to green space conservation.

“It is a great effort to support. The land trusts in western mountains and the lakes region” have sound objectives, he said, throwing out some reasons people should check out the Acoustic Sunset tonight.

“There is a lot we take for granted, the places we go, and even what we see as we drive along. Without some forethought those places just disappear,” Gunn said.

“I am generally very supportive of land conservation efforts. I am supportive of the land trusts; they play a hugely important role in keeping our landscape the way we want it to be for us to live in it,” he said.

“And, Hacker’s Hill is important to me. My wife and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary (in 2000) with a picnic there,” Gunn said.

He added he is pleased public access will continue at that panoramic venue off Quaker Ridge.

A few years ago, Gunn, who typically volunteers his time for Western Mountain Land Trust (WMLT), performed with members of Swampdonkeys and pulled off a successful fundraiser. So, WMLT Lee Dassler volunteered the band members to help with the Hacker’s Hill endeavor, he said.

“No, we usually don’t play for free,” said Gunn, whose regular job is for a conservational non-profit.

“We normally charge. We mostly play at pubs in the area. We play all winter in Bethel. We don’t play much during the summer,” he said.

In fact, Gunn’s banjo will be joined by the fiddle of Michael Hayashdida because the third band member

Ted Tibbetts “is a white water raft guide, and makes money during the summer.”

“One of us will talk the other into volunteering some other time,” he added.

Swampdonkeys play traditional American and Irish, or Celtic, music.

“Definitely, with the fiddle and bango, there will be some upbeat tunes, and a lot of tunes that go back to the 1800’s,” he said. The musicians also have some original pieces up their sleeves.

“Our music is very much connected to nature. We have lots of songs about raccoons and skunks,” he said.

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