Turning Woodward Point into a Public Preserve
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Driving down the strip of Brunswick’s Cooks Corner, with its fast-food joints and gas stations, you might be anywhere in America. But if you take a few turns off the main drag you’ll find a peninsula of open fields, forest, and rocky shoreline extending into the New Meadows River. You’ll hear bobolinks sing in the grasses, smell sea air, and see oyster growers and clammers at work. A Starbucks might be just down the road, but when you’re at Woodward Point you could only be in Maine.
Along Southern Maine’s rapidly developing coastline, places like Woodward Point are becoming increasingly rare. When the landowners came to Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust with a desire to protect this special place, we knew we could not let the opportunity pass us by.
Over the past few years, MCHT and BTLT have been working together to raise the $3.5 million needed to conserve the land and open it up to the public as a preserve. Over that time, individual donors, the town of Brunswick, and state and federal agencies gave generously to conserve Woodward Point—beginning with the land’s owners, who offered the land to MCHT for a bargain sale price.
On May 1 of 2019 Woodward Point was officially protected—but the story of the conservation of Woodward Point doesn’t stop there. In fact, in many ways, this is just the beginning. When MCHT acquires land, it is our duty to manage and care for that land in perpetuity, and it takes a lot of time and resources to do that well.
Prior to May 1, Caitlin Gerber, MCHT’s Southern Maine Regional Steward, spent many hours at Woodward Point. She walked the land in every season and recorded the wildlife found there; she brought engineers to inspect the old barns (for years it was a working dairy farm); she began soliciting input from neighbors and developing a management plan for the preserve.
“Our aim is create a real community asset, a place where people can go to stretch their legs, picnic by the shore, and experience the beauty of Brunswick’s coastline,” says Caitlin. “Woodward Point is also a bastion for wildlife, and there is a robust fishing and aquaculture community in the New Meadows River. We’ll be careful to create a management plan that protects and enhances all of these features as best we can.”
The day after the transfer of the land to MCHT, Caitlin and BTLT Steward Manager Margaret Gerber were out on the land putting up temporary signs and beginning trail work. They have their work cut out for them—trails will have to be re-routed to avoid private property, and they’re working with contractors to build stairs to the shore later this summer. Any day now, a safe and well-situated parking lot will be put in, and permanent signage will be up in the next year or so, educating people about the preserve and the flora and fauna to be found there.