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2023 Community Questionnaire Results

Harpswell Heritage Land Trust
October 10, 2023

Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out our Community Questionnaire earlier this year! We had a total of 304 responses and we are so grateful for all the feedback we received. Your honest opinions help HHLT understand how our goals align with those of our community.

The majority of responses to questions about HHLT in the community were positive, and conservation of undeveloped shoreline, wildlife habitat, and wetlands were the largest priorities in our work. Guided nature walks and lectures led as the most popular program formats, and hiking, walking, and enjoying scenery were the most popular trail uses. We also repeated some questions from our 2012 survey to observe how answers may have changed in the last decade. Conservation work remained the highest priority, even increasing to over 90% of responses in 2023. Education of both children and adults grew as a priority over the last decade, from 36% and 35% to 72% and 70%, respectively.

We’d like to share the results of the survey with you. Below are the answers to a few of the survey questions. If you’d like to see the results from all the questions, you can download the full report here.

Questions about the survey data? We would love to hear from you! You can reach Amelia Graham at development@hhltmaine.org or 207-721-1121.

Question 7 asked for a response to statements about HHLT. Survey-takers could assign a value to each statement, with five being “strongly agree” and one being “strongly disagree.” The chart below shows the number of people who assigned a given value to each statement.

Question 8 asked survey-takers to assign their personal priority to each of HHLT’s work areas. On the priority scale, five meant “highest priority” and one meant “lowest priority.” The chart below shows the number of people who assigned a given value to each work area.

Question 15 was open-ended, and asked how people feel about our dog leash rules. Some of our preserves allow off-leash dogs, some require dogs to be on-leash, and one preserve does not allow dogs. To summarize the answers to this question, each answer was tallied into the following groups based on the answer.

Opinion Number of Responses Percent of Answers
Happy/satisfied with current rules 122 40%
All dogs should be leashed 70 23%
Left blank 57 19%
HHLT should have more off-leash areas 12 4%
No opinion 11 4%
HHLT should have more dog-free preserves 9 3%
HHLT should have dog waste pick-up rules and bags available 8 3%
There should be more enforcement of the existing rules 7 2%
There should be more designated off-leash hours 5 2%
Dogs should be allowed everywhere 2 1%
HHLT should offer education about why dogs aren’t allowed in certain places 1 <1%




Question 17 was open-ended, and left a space for any comments about the work of HHLT or any additional insight to earlier questions. We created a word cloud, which pulls the most commonly used words from the answers. The more often the word was used, the larger it appears in the cloud.

There were several open-ended questions in our survey to provide a space for you to give feedback about our work. Here are a few selected quotes from the hundreds of comments we received through the survey. Thanks to all who shared your ideas and opinions!

“I truly enjoy the variety and the upkeep of the various trails. Clearly HHLT is doing a great job—a very well run organization by people who care!”

“I applaud all your good work and I support your increasing partnership with working waterfront organizations and goals. All of this work is so important!”

“The land trust does great programming and I’d like to suggest a couple topics for consideration: 1) Working with Wabanaki and First Light people to provide access to our properties for the tribes; 2) Planning and protecting areas for sea level rise; 3) Ways to allow for marsh migration; and 4) Gathering baseline information on properties to allow monitoring of long term changes.”

“As a responsible dog owner, I am aware that you cannot necessarily trust everyone to do the right thing, so while I wish there was open access for dogs, I fully support the current approach that requires leashes for specific times during the day.”

“Because the land trust preserves are so well maintained it is a joy to have access to our beautiful woods and beaches. Our community is so fortunate to have the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust.”

“I appreciate a variety of spaces that suit the public’s preferences, allowing individuals to choose, for instance, whether they want to be on a dog-friendly trail or not. I think the dog leash rules are great, and hope people follow them for the sake of ecology and continued use.”

“I encourage the development of more access options for people with limited mobility. This is important for the entire community and builds goodwill for HHLT. Also, I would love to see us install blinds for viewing birds and other wildlife at places like the salt marsh at Long Reach and the fresh water pond at Curtis Farm. I would happily help in the design and construction of such blinds.”