Thursday, December 29, 2016

Waterfront Nature Preserve Announced

Owls Head, Maine -  “In wildness is the preservation of the world" quotes Susan St. John who donated 32 acres fronting the Muscle Ridge Channel to the Georges River Land Trust last Thursday, evoking the spirit of Henry David Thoreau.  “Bob and I felt that we were stewards rather than ‘owners’ of the land on Ash Point and so by making a gift of this land to the Georges River Land Trust, the public will be forever welcome to enjoy it as much as our family has.”

St. John and her husband, Bob Rheault, who passed away in 2013, have long been staunch advocates for thoughtful human interaction with the natural world and, since its inception, strong supporters of the Georges River Land Trust.  In fact, a conservation easement conveyed in 1987 was the first to be held by the Land Trust, which celebrates its 30th Anniversary this coming year.  A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement which limits development and subdivision when donated to a qualified organization.  The Georges River Land Trust currently holds 45 conservation easements on more than 2,700 acres of land throughout its watershed service region which includes Owls Head and Rockland as well as the land area which drains into the St. George River.

While conservation easements protect the natural qualities of a property in perpetuity, they do not necessarily convey public access.  “In making the gift of the property’s full title to the Land Trust, Susan has greatly increased its value to the community, as she has made public access a condition of the gift,” said Pamela Dewell, Executive Director of the Georges River Land Trust.  “We are greatly appreciative of this family’s foresight and generosity,” Dewell said, adding that an additional contribution will help to maintain the property over the years as well as to construct a parking area in the future.

Georges River Land Trust maintains 17 nature preserves on more than 1,100 acres of land, providing public access and education as well as habitat for wildlife.  To learn more about the properties the organization maintains for the enjoyment of the public,  offers a complete list of its nature preserves as well as trails comprising the Georges Highland Path -- more than 50 miles of trails made available by private landowners and maintained by Georges River Land Trust volunteers and staff.  The organization also conducts educational activities and special events celebrating the mid-coast region year-round.

The Ash Point Preserve will welcome the public to enjoy what St. John calls “ribbons of wonder” -- old stone walls, ancient apple trees, and spruce and birch groves.   A pathway leads to the Muscle Ridge Channel where “one can feel the pounding of the surf, play in the tide pools, and look across Penobscot Bay over North Haven, Vinalhaven, Hurricane Island and Heron Neck and seemingly to forever.”

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