Land Protected Along Royal River (ME)
Yarmouth, Maine, 10/4/04: U.S. Representative Tom Allen (D-1) joined the Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Town of Yarmouth, the Friends of Royal River and other federal, state and local representatives at the mouth of the Royal River in Yarmouth today to celebrate the protection of 35 acres of waterfront property that has become the town’s next conservation preserve.
One of the largest undeveloped parcels along Royal River in Yarmouth, the property includes almost a half-mile of river frontage, forested uplands and salt and freshwater wetlands. The Town of Yarmouth acquired the property from Geoff Spear, with help from TPL, a national nonprofit conservation organization and the Friends of Royal River, a regional land trust.
A $1.6 million congressional appropriation from the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) for the River Royal project was secured through the strong support and leadership U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and U.S. Rep. Allen. Of this amount, the CELCP program awarded a $1.15 million grant to the Town of Yarmouth for the protection of this 35-acre property. The remainder will be applied to additional protection efforts along the estuary. Additionally, a private fundraising campaign among area residents raised over $200,000 for the project, the Town of Yarmouth contributed $150,000 from its conservation fund, and the Land for Maine’s Future Program (LMF) provided $400,000 in support.
“Today marks the conservation of not only acreage along the Royal River, but an enduring legacy of natural beauty. I want to thank and congratulate the Trust for Public Land, the Friends of Royal River and the Town of Yarmouth for they have done to make this dream come to fruition,” said Senator Snowe. “The acquisition of this treasured estuary property will protect both the recreational and natural resources within the town’s boundaries for generations to come. I was pleased to work to secure $1.6 million from the Coastal Estuarine Land Conservation Program to make this preservation possible. This funding has proven itself to be an investment in a lasting natural oasis for all.”
“It is critically important that we work to preserve Maine’s coastal areas, such as this property along the Royal River,” said Senator Collins. “I am pleased that I was able to secure federal funding from the CELCP program for the Town of Yarmouth to protect this wonderful property for future generations.”
“I am very proud that I was able to work with my colleagues to secure $1.6 million in earmarked federal funds in last year’s Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill for this important waterfront conservation project along the Royal River,” Representative Allen said. “This 35 acre acquisition will be a tremendous asset for people in Yarmouth and throughout southern Maine who value the parcel’s habitat, forests and fresh and saltwater wetlands. My thanks and congratulations to the Friends of the Royal River, the Town of Yarmouth, the Trust for Public Land and everyone who has worked so hard to make this acquisition possible.”
The LMF award is among the final grants awarded from the funds available under the state bond issue approved in 1999. A coalition of over 260 businesses and organizations in Maine has urged renewal of the LMF program, which has allocated all of its funding and enjoys broad based support. To date, however, the Legislature has not authorized a new bond measure.
“The Land for Maine’s Future Board is extremely pleased to have contributed to this project that is so important to the Town of Yarmouth and all the communities on the Royal River,” said Tim Glidden, Director. “The LMF Program is looking to expand these partnerships along Maine’s coast as Maine citizens struggle with rapid development, loss of public access, and skyrocketing prices.”
The property includes over a mile of walking and cross-country ski trails, a fresh water pond, spectacular views, and much needed recreation opportunities in a neighborhood that had previously lacked public open space. The Royal River property also provides habitat for a number of critical wildlife species, including bald eagle and osprey, and waterfowl. The Town plans to manage the property largely in its natural state, with ongoing trail maintenance and the potential addition of picnic areas.
Rick Abbondanza, Chairman of the Yarmouth Town Council, spoke on behalf of the town. “We wish to thank all the partners in this effort, including the citizens of Yarmouth, who have for so many years supported a policy of open space and waterfront preservation,” he said. “We commit to hold this land in trust for the benefit of future generations, and will respectfully foster good stewardship of the parcel for our citizens, and all those who visit, to enjoy its beauty.”
“We greatly appreciate the strong support and hard work of Senators Snowe and Collins and Representative Allen in securing funding through the CELCP program to protect this amazing property on the Royal River,” said Whitney Hatch, Vice President and Regional Director for the Trust for Public Land. “With the pressures facing coastal communities in southern Maine, we particularly admire the vision and commitment demonstrated by the Town of Yarmouth in securing this wonderful piece of their shoreline for future generations.”
Overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the CELCP program makes grants to state and local governments to acquire open space in a state’s coastal zone.
“NOAA has been honored to support the implementation of the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program since its creation by Congress in 2002,” said Eldon Hout, NOAA Director of the Office of Ocean & Coastal Resource Management. “The Program’s objective — to acquire property with significant ecological, conservation, historic, aesthetic, or recreation value that are threatened by development — was clearly met by the Royal River project and I’m sure the Town of Yarmouth will do a fine job protecting and managing the site for the benefit of present and future generations.”
The property’s protection was also strongly supported by the Friends of Royal River, which aided tremendously in the successful fundraising effort. The Friends of Royal River is actively involved in conserving and connecting key properties throughout the Royal River watershed, monitoring its water quality, and preserving its historic, scenic and ecological integrity along the river’s 40-mile length. The Friends of Royal River will hold a conservation easement on the property, ensuring that it will never be subdivided or developed.
“Because of the outstanding efforts of the Trust for Public Land, Senators Snowe and Collins, Representative Allen, the Town of Yarmouth and numerous local conservationists, this prominent estuarine property will be available for wildlife and visitors for generations. We are very pleased to add this to the Friends of the Royal River’s growing portfolio of conserved lands in the region,” said Henry Nichols, Executive Director of the Friends of the Royal River.
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. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org.