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Wells Reserve & Laudholm Trust

Making the Wells Reserve at Laudholm a center for the protection of coastal environments.

Our two organizations are tightly linked, but each has its own role. In short, the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve focuses on education, conservation, and research, while Laudholm Trust focuses on fundraising and community building. Both organizations are committed to the evolution of the Wells Reserve at Laudholm as a center for the protection of coastal environments.

Wells Reserve Roles

The Wells Reserve is responsible for the upkeep and improvement of the farm buildings and campus grounds, the trails and boardwalks, the Maine Coastal Ecology Center, the Forest Learning Shelter, and the Alheim Commons. The Wells Reserve manages the woodlands and wetlands, the dunes and grasslands, the flora and fauna. The Wells Reserve operates programs in coastal research and monitoring, environmental learning and decision-maker training, and land and water resource management.


To understand, protect, and restore coastal ecosystems of the Gulf of Maine through integrated research, stewardship, environmental learning, and community partnerships.


The Wells Reserve is overseen by the Wells Reserve Management Authority (RMA), which was established in 1990 by the Maine legislature. Represented on the RMA are the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, the Maine State Planning Office, the Town of Wells, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Laudholm Trust. A Governor-appointed scientist also serves on the RMA.

Wells Reserve Management Authority, Board

  • Nik Charov, Laudholm Trust  Chair
  • Robert Foley, Town of Wells  Treasurer
  • David Rodrigues, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
  • Karl Stromayer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Gayle Zydlewski, Ph.D., Maine Sea Grant College Program
  • Kathleen Leyden, Maine Coastal Program (ex officio)  Secretary
  • Erica Seiden, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (ex officio)

Executive Director

Paul Dest

Additional Resources

Cover image for Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve Management Plan 2019 to 2024, showing aerial view of Little River mouth and Laudholm campus.
Click or tap image to download the 2019-2024 management plan PDF.

Laudholm Trust Roles

Laudholm Trust provides vital monetary and in-kind support for Wells Reserve programs, operations, and capital improvements. Our members enable us to be a reliable partner to the Wells Reserve and an advocate for cultural preservation and coastal protection.

Laudholm Trust was born from a kitchen-table conversation in 1978 and was recognized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 1982. For all the years since, Laudholm Trust members have steadfastly supported the work of the Wells Reserve and the care of its precious site.


To raise financial and community support for the Wells Reserve at Laudholm and Maines coastal environment.


Laudholm Trust is overseen by a Board of Trustees elected by the membership.

2023-24 Trustees

  • Hal Muller (Chair), retired Healthcare Executive
  • Bruce Bjork (Vice Chair and Treasurer), retired Chief Financial Officer
  • Penny Spaulding (Secretary), retired High School Teacher
  • Mark Balfantz (Clerk), In-house Counsel, Kennebunk Savings
  • John Carpenter, retired Associate College Vice President
  • David Forest, Energy Advisor, Evergreen Home Performance
  • Beth Geary, Account Director, The Story House
  • Stephen Giannetti, retired Marketing and Publishing Executive
  • Denise Laroche, Assistant Branch Manager and Loan Officer, Maine Community Bank
  • Jen LaVin, Strategic Communications Consultant
  • Sue Rioux, Artist and Small Business Owner
  • Margo Smith, Human Resources Contractor

Honorary Trustees

  • George Ford
  • Lily Rice Kendall Hsia
  • Bruce Read
  • Betsy Smith
  • Hans Warner


Nik Charov

Additional Resources

Laudholm Trust EIN: 01-0380763

Sar 9488 Adjust

What is a National Estuarine Research Reserve?

Protecting estuaries was a key motivation for the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, which outlined the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. This network of protected areas is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and coastal states.


One of 30 Reserves around the country that contribute to, and benefit from, nationwide initiatives that advance knowledge and stewardship of coasts and estuaries.


Where rivers meet the sea, salt water mixes with fresh water to form estuaries, one of the most dynamic and productive ecosystems on earth. Estuaries provide essential habitat for plant and animal life, shelter human communities from flooding, act as buffers against coastal storms, and remove pollutants from water passing from land to sea. The Wells Reserve encompasses three estuaries: Little River, Webhannet River, and Ogunquit River.


Staff scientists and visiting investigators study and monitor change in Gulf of Maine estuaries, coastal habitats, and adjacent coastal watersheds. Staff educators teach people about these natural resources and the role that individuals and communities play in protecting and sustaining them.


The Wells Reserve protects 2,250 acres of salt marsh, freshwater wetland, beach, dune, forest, and field. The Laudholm Farm campus serves as headquarters. Its historic buildings have been renovated and restored to serve the 21st century research, education, and stewardship goals of the Wells Reserve.