With southern Maine’s landscape becoming more developed, the remaining large tracts of open space are an increasingly critical resource for wildlife and watershed protection. To conserve key lands in the Sebago Lake watershed Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) asked the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) program to help fund creation of a 1,558-acre Sebago Headwaters Preserve around Bald Pate Mountain.
The threat of a 1,500-foot television tower atop Bald Pate, a popular local hiking and snowmobiling destination, mobilized LELT to raise funds and purchase this landmark. Nearby Holt Pond, a completely undeveloped water body, had been protected already through the efforts of LELT and the Lakes Environmental Association. These two preserves are joined by a 5.6-mile trail, and LELT members sought to form a contiguous 1,558-acre block of protected land by acquiring lands between the preserves (counting in nearby holdings of The Nature Conservancy. The LMF program helped fund acquisition of 82 acres, matched by two additional parcels LELT purchased with private and foundation support.
The Preserve’s wetlands, meadows, and upland forests help to support species like the threatened spotted turtle, the river otter (which requires 15-30 linear miles of suitable habitat), the blue-gray gnatcatcher (which requires at least 1,000 undeveloped acres to thrive).
The expanded Preserve greatly increases protection of the ponds and streams that feed Sebago Lake, the primary drinking source for Portland. Among the nine communities surrounding Sebago Lake, Naples (where the Preserve is located) has the largest acreage in the Lake’s watershed. Naples also had the greatest number of permits (51) for new construction in 2000, an indication of spreading development that could mar water quality. By securing lands along feeder ponds and tributaries, the Sebago Headwaters Preserve will help to ensure that the Lake remains a desirable water source and recreational setting.
Dog-walking is only permitted on Bald Pate Mountain. Those planning to bring large groups to Holt Pond should contact in advance the Lakes Environmental Association at (207) 647-8580.
Southern Maine – York, Cumberland
Directions from nearest town
DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer Map 4, B-4. To Bald Pate Mountain: from Bridgton, take 302 east approximately one mile, turning right on Route 117. Bear left in one mile onto Route 107 and continue 3.5 miles. Shortly after passing Five Fields Farm Orchard, there will be a sign for Bald Pate Mountain. Pull in on the dirt road to the parking area by a kiosk (with maps). To Holt Pond: From Bridgton, take Route 302 east 4.5 miles to Perley Road, turn right and go 1.5 miles to the intersection of Chaplins Mill Road and Grist Mill Road. Continue straight on Grist Mill Road .03 miles and turn left into the parking area.