35 Acres Added to Rachel Carson NWR (ME)

KENNEBUNK, Maine, 9/26/03: Today, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the protection of 35 acres on Hart’s Road as part of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. Located south of Route 9 near Parsons Beach, the property lies adjacent to over 96 acres already owned by the Refuge and will be managed as part of the Refuge’s Upper Wells Unit. Thanks to the support of the Maine congressional delegation, last year Congress appropriated $1.5 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the refuge, and a portion of those funds, roughly $1.2 million, were used for this acquisition.

“This addition is especially good news because of the land growth pressures in Southern Maine. It is critical to keep this beautiful section of land together for conservation purposes and not have it fragmented by development,” said US Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). “I will continue to work with the rest of the delegation to secure vital funding necessary to expand conservation efforts to benefit Maine’s environmental treasures and opportunities for recreation. I have always said an environmental legacy is one of the most important priorities to pass on to the next generation and the conservation of this land will make good on that commitment.”

“Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge contains some of the most pristine wildlife habitat along southern Maine’s coastline. It is truly a pleasure to bring federal resources to bear to help protect and preserve this beautiful refuge for both wildlife and Mainers to enjoy,” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine). “Olympia and I secured $3 million in the fiscal year 2003 Senate Appropriations Bill to protect critical lands at Rachel Carson, and we have secured an additional $1 million in the fiscal year 2004 bill. This funding will help preserve important habitat and open space for the enjoyment of generations to come.”

“This 35 acre addition will greatly enhance the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, already among Maine’s true environmental and outdoor recreation treasures,” U.S. Representative Tom Allen said (D-ME 01). “York County is one of Maine’s fastest growing areas in population, and Land and Water Conservation Funds are critically important to augment efforts by state and local governments and local land trusts to preserve areas like this. Rachel Carson could have no more fitting memorial for her many contributions to Maine and America’s environment.”

“This project is an important achievement in the effort to protect the Little River and its marshes from growing development pressures,” said Jeremy Wintersteen, project manager for TPL, which helped negotiate the purchase from Helen Rivas Rose of Kennebunk and her brother Nathaniel Parsons Merrill of Portugal. “We are extremely grateful to the congressional delegation for their support for the refuge, and especially to Senators Snowe and Collins for securing the necessary funds in the Senate that ensured the success of this project. Many thanks also go to Helen and Nathaniel, whose commitment has made the protection of their family’s land a reality.”

“Protecting strategic habitat is vital to maintaining the integrity of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. This tract is one of the larger undeveloped properties near the ocean in this area and provides important nesting and foraging habitat for migratory bird species, as well as other resident wildlife such as turkey, beaver, fox, and otter,” said refuge manager Ward Feurt.

TPL began working to protect this property over two years ago as part of a long-term partnership with local communities, area land trusts, and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge to conserve critical properties in southern coastal Maine. This region boasts Maine’s greatest biological diversity, as well as many recreational and scenic resources. Yet it is also the region at greatest risk from unprecedented growth and sprawl. TPL is working with local citizens and the Maine Congressional delegation in an effort to significantly increase funding for refuge land protection efforts. So far, the refuge has protected just over 5,000 acre of critical wildlife habitat and scenic open space in southern coastal Maine from Cape Elizabeth to Kittery. TPL and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also recently published Where the Rivers Meet the Sea, a report highlighting habitat conservation priorities for the refuge.

“It is wonderful that this land will be left in its natural state to help connect the pristine estuaries of the Little River and the Mousam River. My brother and I are happy that some of our land forms a part of our nation’s great protected ecosystems. The Trust for Public Land, in particular, played a central role in making this project happen,” explained Mrs. Rose.

“This new acquisition will maintain critical wildlife habitat and open space for years to come. The Friends of Rachel Carson strongly supports this addition to the Upper Wells Unit and looks forward to working with Maine’s congressional delegation and the Trust for Public Land to maintain momentum for continued land protection at the refuge,” said Bill Durkin, president of the Friends of Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.

Named after one of America’s best-known naturalists, the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 to protect valuable salt marshes, estuaries, and other important wildlife habitat. The Refuge’s headquarters are located in Wells, Maine, and can be reached at (207) 646-9226.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres of land in 45 states, including more than 50,000 acres in Maine. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information, contact TPL’s Portland office at (207) 772-7424 or visit www.tpl.org/maine.