167 Acres on Maquoit Bay Protected (ME)

Brunswick, Maine, 10/29/2007: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Town of Brunswick, and the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) gathered with elected officials and local residents today to celebrate the conservation of 167 acres of waterfront property on Maquoit Bay, one of the last undeveloped sites on Brunswick’s 65 miles of coastline. The land has over a mile of salt-water frontage on the bay, and nearly doubles the town’s public access to the water.

Funding for the $5 million project came from NOAA’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP), which made a grant of nearly $2 million to the town of Brunswick for the project. U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, and U.S. Representative Tom Allen, strongly supported the Maquoit Bay project and were instrumental in securing those funds. Additional funding was provided by the Land for Maine’s Future Program, which made a grant of over $700,000 to the project.

Using these federal and state grants of $2.7 million, the Town of Brunswick acquired 124 acres on Maquoit Bay from Margaret Downing and Susan Lowery. With this parcel valued at $3 million, the landowners’ $300,000 gift of land value to the town allowed it to complete the transaction. An adjacent 43 acres on Maquoit Bay is owned by the Stoddard family, and as part of this project, they made a gift of a conservation easement to the town and the land trust, valued at $2 million. The Stoddard Family will continue to own this parcel, but its development is prohibited. The total value of the Maquoit Bay Conservation Project was $5 million and permanently protects 167 acres, plus tidal flats.

Sam Hodder, Maine State Director for The Trust for Public Land, said, “A project of this size along the southern Maine coast is a remarkable success for conservation, and would never have been possible without the generosity of the landowners. We also commend the leadership of Maine’s congressional delegation for supporting funding for this important project. Their efforts have ensured the protection of a critical piece of Brunswick’s coastal character at a time when public access to our coastline is under tremendous pressure. We are grateful for their continued commitment to Maine’s coastal heritage.”

Senator Snowe said, “Conserving these 167 acres of forested land on Maquoit Bay will be instrumental in enhancing public access to the waterfront and protecting significant wildlife habitat along southern Maine’s coastline.”

“The Maquoit Bay property protects important wildlife habitat while providing open space and public access opportunities along Maine’s southern coast,” said Senator Collins. “I am proud to support this worthwhile project and it is a pleasure to see it now protected in perpetuity.”

“Maquoit Bay is one of Maine’s coastal gems, and conservation of its fragile resources is a great legacy to pass on to future generations,” U.S. Representative Tom Allen said. “I was pleased to be able to secure funding for the project. I want to commend all of the partners who have worked so hard to move this effort forward, especially the landowners for their generosity and cooperation.”

Don Gerrish, Brunswick Town Manager, said, “The tremendous scenic, recreational and ecological aspects of these properties provide an unparalleled asset to the residents of Brunswick. It was a pleasure working with everyone who ensured the success of this project, from the land owners to the Trust for Public Land to our state and federal contacts.”

TPL negotiated the purchase of the land and easements with the landowners, and held the property off the market while funding was assembled. The Brunswick Topsham Land Trust now holds permanent easements on both properties. Under the easements, which will be binding on any future owners, the land may never be developed.

Jack Aley, Executive Director of the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust, said, “We’re excited to be part of this coastal conservation project, and grateful for the work that so many people put into making it happen. BTLT looks forward to being part of the stewardship team for this important habitat.”

The Maquoit Bay property boasts three freshwater streams, a unique rocky promontory that provides spectacular views of Casco Bay and its islands, and swimming access to the warm shallow bay. With over a mile of trails for walking and cross-country skiing, and potential canoe and kayak access to Maquoit Bay and Casco Bay, this property has great recreational value to the town. It provides important habitat for migrating and nesting shorebirds, and in addition supports commercial clamming.

David Kennedy, Director of the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management for NOAA, said, “The CELCP’s objective–to help permanently conserve lands in coastal and estuarine areas, will clearly be met by the protection of these 167 acres on Maquoit Bay, the top-ranked CELCP project in 2007. Through the efforts of all the project partners, the property will be preserved for the benefit of Maine’s coastal zone and enjoyed by present and future generations.”

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. In Maine, TPL has protected over 87,000 acres across the state with projects ranging from city parks and pathways to coastal habitat and working farms and forests.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) was created by Congress in 2002. To date, funding support from CELCP has helped to preserve more than 32,000 coastal acres. In addition, $15 million was included for the CELCP in the fiscal year 2008 budget request for NOAA. The CELCP’s objective are to help permanently conserve lands in coastal and estuarine areas with significant ecological, conservation, historic, aesthetic, or recreation values.