FAYETTE – The Kennebec Land Trust will add more public recreation opportunities to the area following a recent donation of 74 acres in Fayette.
The Hales Pond Woodland Preserve was donated in honor of John Moore, who bought the 74 acres with his friend Albert Ferguson in 1960, according to Jim Connors, co-chair of the Kennebec Land Trust Lands Committee.
When Moore died, Connors said he left a package for his companion, Marilyn Donnelly. Ferguson and Donnelly then decided to donate the property to the Kennebec Land Trust in his memory.
“In memory of John Moore, it gives us great satisfaction to donate this land to KLT for preservation,” Donnelly said in a press release. “The beauty of this country with the beautiful pond and tall trees will forever be a peaceful place for the public to enjoy.”
And the country has much to offer – according to the Land Trust it offers “700 feet of undeveloped creek and pond frontage, spring pools and biologically rich woodland and wetlands”.
The Land Trust will be working next year to create a path from Bamford Pond Road through which the public can walk, snowshoe, hunt and enjoy nature viewing. It also provides access for paddling and fishing on Hales Pond.
The new acquisition has brought the organization’s total area of protected land to 7,570.
The Land Trust includes 21 parishes in Kennebec, Franklin and Androscoggin counties. Kennebec Land Trust executive director Theresa Kerchner said the total area of all 21 waterless communities is about 413,000 acres, meaning the Kennebec Land Trust has preserved about 1.5% of the land in its service area.
Kerchner said that while that’s a small percentage, it’s important to note the work the Land Trust is doing for this land and how it makes it available to the public for various outdoor recreation opportunities.
“It’s not a big, contiguous block,” Connors added. “These are now divided into over 40 packages and are in close proximity to people. We’ve found through the pandemic that these properties are accessible to people in their communities, and they have a lot of utility for people who have had to get out.”
He said part of the Land Trust’s achievement in preserving more than 7,500 acres is that most people in the area now live near an area with many recreational opportunities.
Looking ahead, Connors said the Land Trust isn’t aiming for a set number of total hectares conserved and that they only hope to work with more landowners in the future to obtain additional land parcels.
“It’s hard to quantify this kind of approach,” he said. “So it’s really a question of how many landowners and what lands would be the subject or subject of conservation efforts in the future.”
In addition to working with landowners, he said financial backers help fund this effort, while the Land Trust itself acts as the mechanism to make it all happen.
“In a way, it’s like a three-legged stool,” he said.
Overall, Maine has more than 80 land trusts protecting more than 12% of the state and providing over 2.34 million acres of publicly accessible land.
Fayette City Manager Mark Robinson was quoted in a press release expressing his appreciation for the donation on behalf of the city, adding that this is one of many parcels in Fayette to be received by the Land Trust.
“These special places are critical natural areas at the heart of protecting natural resources,” he said. “In accordance with Fayette’s recently state-approved Comprehensive Plan, these are critical areas containing plant and animal life or geological and ecological features that are worthy of preservation in their natural state and that are of significant scenic, scientific or are of historical value. On behalf of the city, I am very grateful for this gift that will benefit future generations.”
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