Congress Approves Funding For Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

WASHINGTON, D.C. 11/5/2009: The Trust For Public Land, a national conservation organization, today praised U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe, and U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree for working to secure $3 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to acquire a key property as part of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. The funding was included in the FY 2010 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which sets spending priorities for natural resource programs for the next fiscal year.

The funding will be used by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to purchase the 110-acre Timber Point property, located in Biddeford, along the coast in southern Maine. The Timber Point project is significant because it is one of the last undeveloped properties from Kittery to Cape Elizabeth.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is working in partnership with the Friends of Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, the USFWS, town leaders of Biddeford and Kennebunkport, Maine Audubon, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and other groups to protect the property. To put this conservation effort together, the $3 million in federal funding is being leveraged by private philanthropy to meet the nearly $7 million property acquisition cost. A fundraising effort is underway to raise the critical matching funding, and has already successfully attracted a $200,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

TPL is handling the real estate transaction working with the willing seller landowner to help ensure that the property is available for protection once federal and private purchase funds are fully secured.

“In this otherwise densely developing area, Timber Point will offer a tranquil respite of public open space and access to the coast,” said Wolfe Tone, Maine state director of The Trust for Public Land. “We applaud Senators Collins and Snowe and Representative Pingree for their commitment to protecting this critical resource. Were it not for their persistence, and the support of the Friends of Rachel Carson, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and countless organizations and local citizens, the Timber Point property would have been lost forever.”

“The Rachel Carson Refuge is unique in that it lies at the confluence of the vibrant residential communities of southern Maine and some of the most significant natural habitat in the state,” said Bill Durkin, president of the Friends of Rachel Carson NWR “This undeveloped tract of 110 acres is crucial to the growth of the refuge. The Friends greatly appreciates the support from its members, the Maine congressional delegation, TPL, and the landowner to enable this unique property to be part of the refuge family.”

A longstanding priority for protection by the Refuge, the Timber Point property includes over 2.25 miles of rocky coastline where the Little River empties into the Atlantic in Kennebunkport and is adjacent to the Goose Rocks Beach, a popular public swimming area. The purchase will be included in the Refuge’s Little River Division, located in Biddeford and Kennebunkport, and will expand the public’s opportunity to enjoy compatible recreational activities such as birdwatching at the Refuge.

Timber Point’s vast undeveloped expanse of coastal property is also a critical stopping ground for migratory waterfowl as they travel the Coast to and from northern nesting grounds. Common Eider, American Black Duck, and numerous other species depend upon this ice-free wintering habitat. Protection of the property will enhance the refuge’s ability to protect water quality, and further consolidate the fragile habitat that exist on the marshes, uplands, creeks, and the estuaries of the coast.

“Timber Point has preserved abundant wildlife,” said Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge manager Ward Feurt. “With diverse habitats like shrubby wetlands, early successional thickets, and grassy openings the habitat supports American woodcock, bobolink, willow flycatchers, Eastern towhee, chestnut-sided warblers gray catbirds. Black ducks winter on the shorelines where sea ducks and migratory shorebirds feed and sanderlings congregate. The rocky offshore habitat serves as a productive lobster nursery,” Feurt continued. “We are planning for visitors to share this land that has been so well cared for.”

“Timber Point and Timber Island define the look and feel of Goose Rocks Beach,” said Tom Bradbury, executive director of the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust. “They have been enjoyed by generations of residents and visitors to this area and have provided priceless wildlife habitat in a part of our state where it is rapidly disappearing. Our thanks go out to our congressional delegation and to all those who made this happen. Now is the time for others to join in the protection of this wonderful and unique property by generously contributing to the campaign.”

In 1964, Congress established the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to preserve natural areas and wildlife and assure that all Americans have access to quality outdoor recreation. Using a small portion of receipts derived from offshore oil and gas drilling, the LWCF federal program has preserved over 5 million acres of land for conservation and recreation purposes across the country. In order to help communities protect their most critical recreational and wildlife areas such as the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, efforts are underway in Congress now to permanently fund the LWCF at its fully authorized annual level of $900 million.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national, nonprofit land-conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Established in 1972, TPL is the only national nonprofit working exclusively to protect land for public enjoyment and use. TPL depends on contributions from supporters to continue protecting land throughout the state.

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement,” from Rachel Carson’s, A Sense of Wonder.