Federal funds could pay up to half of the asking price, and be matched with private money.
by Anne Gleason, Staff Writer
Several conservation organizations are teaming up for a $7 million land acquisition that would preserve a rare, largely undeveloped 110-acre piece of property along southern Maine’s coast in Kennebunkport.
If acquired, Timber Point and Timber Island will become part of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.
The Trust for Public Land, the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Friends of Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge are in the early stages of an effort to acquire the Timber Point property and the nearby 13-acre island off Goose Rocks Beach.
The parcels are a well-known part of the landscape for residents and visitors at the beach, said Tom Bradbury, executive director of the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust.
Timber Point is largely in its natural state, which contributes to the tranquil, remote atmosphere of the Goose Rocks area, he said.
“One really has the sense that they’re in a pretty rural setting, enjoying their time there just as it has been enjoyed in the past,” he said. “It’s so rare to find such a large piece of land on the ocean that’s remained as pristine as that has.”>/p>
The groups are appealing to Maine’s congressional delegation for help in getting money through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides federal funds to acquire and develop outdoor recreation areas and facilities.
Federal funds could pay as much as half of the asking price — $3.5 million — and be matched with private funding. The acquisition would involve a fundraising effort between the conservation groups, Bradbury said.
“We’re at the beginning of what’s going to be a big project,” said Wolfe Tone, project manager for the Trust for Public Land in Maine. “We see it as a terrific addition to (the) habitat of Rachel Carson.”>/p>
The property is privately owned, by Esther S. Ewing and the Timber Point Trust.
The family, Tone said, has been “eager to work with us.”>/p>
If the acquisition is made, the Trust for Public Land will look to provide public access for activities such as walking or bird watching, Tone said.
The property would be managed by the Rachel Carson Refuge.
Ward Feurt, refuge manager, said there is potential for the property to provide wildlife-dependent recreation and observation.
The refuge’s central mission is to provide and maintain habitat for wildlife, but there are publicly accessible trails in parts of the Rachel Carson Refuge, including trails in Kittery Point, Wells and Old Orchard Beach.
Timber Point would become part of the refuge’s Little River division, which encompasses more than 725 acres in Kennebunkport and Biddeford. The entire refuge, spanning from Kittery to Cape Elizabeth, totals more than 5,300 acres.