49 Acres in Kennebunk Added to Rachel Carson NWR

Kennebunk, Maine, 12/20/2006: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the addition of the 49-acre Parsons Woods property to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. The Maine Congressional delegation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service secured funds to protect the property, which features wooded uplands and wetlands. Located in the rapidly developing coastal corridor between Wells and Kennebunkport, the property will now be managed as part of the Refuge’s Upper Wells /Parsons Beach Division.

Wolfe Tone, a project manager at TPL, said that the nonprofit conservation organization purchased Parsons Woods and transferred it to the Refuge last week. “This is a key parcel in the coastal habitat area that the Rachel Carson Refuge safeguards, and we’re delighted that Parsons Woods is now permanently protected and part of the Refuge.”

U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins led the effort to fund the Parsons Woods acquisition by securing an appropriation for the Rachel Carson NWR in the Senate Interior Appropriations bill in February, 2006, through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Additional funds to complete the purchase were provided from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Inholding accounts.

U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe said, “I am proud to have helped obtain the funding necessary to preserve these 49 acres of important woods and wetlands habitat in an area of great wildlife biodiversity. It is also a popular recreational spot for Mainers and tourists. The Trust for Public Land is a true and longtime friend of habitat conservation for the Refuge and we should not overlook the importance of the addition of the Parsons Woods property to the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge. These 49 acquired acres in the heart of Maine’s most densely populated area are a treasure, and this additional land is all the more cause for celebration.”

“Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is truly a gem of the Maine coastline,” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins. “I’m very pleased we were able to use federal funds to help add both wetlands and woodlands to this treasured refuge. In areas under such development pressure, it becomes even more important to preserve ecologically sensitive lands, not only for wildlife but also for their scenic and recreational value.”

Congressman Tom Allen added, “Pristine natural areas like the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge are among the features which attract businesses that could locate anywhere in the nation to choose Maine because it is such a special place to live and raise a family. I work hard to secure funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund because the land it protects here in Maine helps to maintain our state’s natural heritage. We are all fortunate to have groups like The Trust for Public Land, the Friends of Rachel Carson and our local land trusts leading the way to conserve areas like Parsons Woods.”

“The Parsons Woods acquisition links two large blocks of Rachel Carson refuge lands,” said Refuge Manager Ward Feurt. “The diverse array of forested wetlands and freshwater habitats at Parsons Woods are home to many common and uncommon species, including the verry and willow flycatcher. This is an excellent, well placed acquisition for the refuge and we want to express our appreciation to Senators Snowe and Collins and Representative Allen for their support. Thanks also to the Trust for Public Land, who did all the heavy lifting in making this transaction possible.”

The 49-acre Parsons Woods property is located in Kennebunk, and contains the headwaters of a tributary of the Little River, the bulk of which flows through existing refuge lands and empties into the Atlantic between Laudholm and Crescent Surf beaches. A popular destination for birders, nearby Crescent Surf and Parson Beaches host some of the largest populations in Maine of nesting least terns, the federal-listed threatened piping plover, and the federal-listed endangered roseate tern.

TPL began working to protect this property over two years ago as part of a long-term partnership with local communities, the Friends of Rachel Carson, area land trusts, and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge to conserve critical properties in southern coastal Maine. This region boasts some of 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. In 2001, TPL and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published Where the Rivers Meet the Sea, a report highlighting habitat conservation priorities for the refuge. TPL is now working with the Refuge and local citizens in an effort to significantly increase funding for Refuge land-protection efforts. With the strong support of the Maine Congressional delegation, the Refuge has protected over 5,000 acres of critical wildlife habitat in southern coastal Maine from Cape Elizabeth to Kittery.

“The Upper Wells Division gains another significant piece that further protects the upland deciduous evergreen habitat of the Refuge,” said Bill Durkin, President of the Friends of Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. “The diverse mixed forests abuts existing Refuge land and the purchase of this critical parcel is an example of well-used Federal tax dollars. Senators Collins and Snowe and Congressman Allen have been great supporters of the Refuge. We would also like to thank The Trust for Public Land, who is a great Friend of the Refuge. With this latest completed project, we look forward to celebrating Rachel Carson’s 100th Birthday in May, 2007.”

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 almost 2 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.