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50,000 acres designated for Brunswick conservation after grant

The $619,000 in funds from the Maine Community Foundation spans projects across the state.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Tom Farrell is excited for Brunswick to see its new public land.

It is called Merrymeeting Park, and it is hidden away in plain sight next to Route 1. Until a week or so ago, the land had been a private homestead. Farrell, Brunswick's parks and recreation director, had his eyes on this land for years.

"In terms of the beauty of this parcel, the natural resources on this parcel, and the significant history of the parcel, the town's been looking to acquire the parcel for the last 20 years," he said.

Merrymeeting is now public land, thanks in part to a grant from the Maine Community Foundation.

In its second year of donations, the foundation listed 20 projects it had chosen to receive either a grant from the foundation or a donation from fellow Mainers who wanted to contribute.

According to Maine Community, the contributions cover parcels from Pembroke to York, totaling 50,000 acres and $619,000. The foundation listed the projects as follows:

2021 Grants

  • Bangor Land Trust, to conserve 7.3 acres of Wabanaki homeland for current Wabanaki cultural uses: $49,000
  • Coastal Mountains Land Trust, for the acquisition of 64 acres as part of the Mt. Tuck Preserve in Stockton Springs and Prospect: $9,000
  • Downeast Salmon Federation, for the easement purchase of a high conservation value property with riparian habitats on the Pennamaquan River in Pembroke: $7,000
  • Somerset Woods Trustees, to expand Weston Woods & Waters and provide essential access for year-round outdoor recreation, sustainable forestry, and environmental education: $35,000
  • The Kennebec Land Trust, for a land acquisition project in Fayette that will protect a wetland buffer zone and provide local families access to fields and mature forest: $15,000
  • Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, to support the Sewall Woods Preserve Expansion Project to conserve 8.2 acres abutting its existing Sewall Woods Preserve and extend the Whiskeag Trail system: $15,000
  • Town of Brunswick, to support the Merrymeeting Park Project by purchasing a property along the Androscoggin River with water access and historical, prehistorical, and ecological assets: $15,000

From donor-advised funds:

  • Appalachian Mountain Club, to conserve the 26,740-acre Pleasant River Headwaters Forest, adding to the permanent protection of the West Branch of the Pleasant River: $50,000
  • Bangor Land Trust, to conserve 7.3 acres of Wabanaki homeland for current Wabanaki cultural uses: $1,000
  • Coastal Mountains Land Trust, for the acquisition of 64 acres as part of the Mt. Tuck Preserve in Stockton Springs and Prospect: $27,779
  • Downeast Salmon Federation, for the easement purchase of a high conservation value property with riparian habitats on the Pennamaquan River in Pembroke: $20,000
  • Forest Society of Maine, to complete 21,300 acres of conservation corridor in Grafton Township: $50,000
  • Frenchman Bay Conservancy, to protect nearly 5,000 acres of climate-resilient land, rivers, and wetlands: $50,000
  • Greater Lovell Land Trust Inc., to protect a forested landscape of 1,300 acres in the Kezar River Corridor with conservation, climate resilience, and regional connectivity value: $50,000
  • High Peaks Alliance, to support conservation of historic property with trails and habitats for Atlantic salmon and wild brook trout: $50,000
  • Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, to support the Sewall Woods Preserve Expansion Project to conserve 8.2 acres abutting its existing Sewall Woods Preserve and extend the Whiskeag Trail system: $15,000
  • Mahoosuc Land Trust, to acquire Tumbledown Dick Mountain, a 978-acre ecological and recreational regional resource, connecting critical habitats in the Mahoosuc Region: $50,000
  • The Trust for Public Land, to purchase 193 acres in Southern Maine and develop programming on what will be known as Talking Brook Public Lands: $25,000
  • Town of Brunswick, to support the Merrymeeting Park Project by purchasing a property along the Androscoggin River with water access and historical, prehistorical, and ecological assets: $35,000 (two donor grants of $25,000 and $10,000)
  • Maine Farmland Trust, to protect the Blaisdell Brothers Family Farm in York, a bicentennial farm that provides sustainably grown local food, community support, and environmental protection amid high development pressure: $50,000

According to the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, around 20% of Maine's lands are designated for conservation. In her climate action plan, Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, set a goal for that number to reach 30% by 2030.

According to foundation philanthropist Maggie Drummond-Bahl, the land acquisitions bring two equal promises: One of conservation and another of public access.

"This program, in particular, is trying to do that in a way that increases the access for people in their homes, near their communities, where they can get outside and enjoy the outdoors," she said in a Tuesday virtual interview.

Having waited 20 years to share Merrymeeting Park with his neighbors, that's music to Farrell's ears.

"When the community discovers the beauty and the resources on this piece of property, quite frankly, I think people are going to be shocked," he said. 

"It’s that extraordinary a piece of property."

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