LMF Supports Kennebunkport Greenbelt (ME)

Kennebunkport, 1/30/04: Today, the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust (KCT) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced that the state’s Land for Maine’s Future Program (LMF) has given preliminary approval for a grant of $400,000 to the Kennebunkport Greenbelt Initiative, an effort to protect important land that abuts the Town Forest and create a town-wide greenbelt. The LMF grant is designated for the protection of the Agnes and James Steele, Sr. property in northwestern Kennebunkport.

“We are absolutely thrilled that the Land for Maine’s Future Program has supported the Kennebunkport Greenbelt Initiative project,” remarks Tom Bradbury, Executive Director of the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust. “It is our hope that a greenbelt from the coast to the northwestern part of town can be created for the benefit of wildlife habitat and for town residents and visitors. The protection of the Steele property is perhaps the most important part of this effort and this grant gives us a great boost in our greenbelt fundraising efforts.”

The 350 +/- acre Steele parcel abuts the Town Forest property, the majority of which is located in northwestern Kennebunkport near the Arundel town line. Approximately two years ago, Kennebunkport residents voted overwhelmingly to transfer most of the Town Forest property to KCT to ensure its permanent protection. The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit land conservation organization with an office in Portland, has recently signed a purchase agreement for the acquisition and permanent protection of the Agnes and James Steele, Sr. property. The Steele parcel includes wetlands, woodlands, field areas, creeks, and important wildlife habitat.

Sam Hodder, Project Manager at TPL, commented “it has been a pleasure for TPL to work with landowners such as the Steeles who care so deeply about their land. We are grateful to them for this fantastic land protection opportunity that will ensure that their land remains in a natural state forever. Although we have a great deal of work ahead of us, the support from LMF and the State of Maine demonstrates the importance of this project.” Tim Glidden, Land for Maine’s Future Program Director, remarked, “The protection of the Steele property as part of this Greenbelt project will be a great achievement for Kennebunkport residents and we are pleased to be a part of this partnership effort.” Nathan Poore, Kennebunkport Town Manager, stated that, “It is great that there now exists the opportunity to permanently conserve the Steele property. A big round of thanks are due to the Steeles for their past stewardship and care of their land and the Town Forest.”

TPL will be purchasing the Steele property and will convey it to KCT as an addition to the Town Forest. An appraisal will determine the property’s purchase price. A town-wide fundraising campaign will soon be launched to enable the purchase and protection of the Steele parcel.

The Kennebunkport Conservation Trust (KCT) is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization with a mission of protecting important lands in Kennebunkport. Since its inception in 1973, KCT has protected over 675 acres. For more information please call Tom Bradbury at (297) 967-3939 or visit http://www.thekennebunkportconservationtrust.org.

The Land for Maine’s Future Program was created in 1987 in response to concerns over the loss of critical natural areas and wildlife habitat along with traditional access to undeveloped lands for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. To date, the Land for Maine’s Future Program has protected over 192,000 acres of Maine’s best natural areas. The Program also seeks to protect farmlands through the purchase of development rights and public access to water for fishing and boating activities. Working with other state agencies and numerous local governments and charitable nonprofit groups, the Land for Maine’s Future Board adheres to a “willing seller only” policy. A $50 million bond issue approved by the Maine Legislature and Maine voters in 1999 provides funding for these projects. By the end of January 2004, virtually all of the funds from this bond issue will be committed.