by Amanda Devine
There are two new preserves in town that help advance not just conservation on the St. George peninsula, protecting important habitat as well as scenic views, but also offer new opportunities for hikers, birdwatchers, dog walkers, hunters, students and educators, or anyone simply looking for a quiet place to connect with the natural world. Working together, the Town of St. George, the Georges River Land Trust, and Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) put together their resources and expertise to create these opportunities for the community.
The Bamford Preserve on Long Cove has been several years in the making. In June of 2015, MCHT, which also owns High Island in Tenants Harbor, took ownership of 36 acres on both sides of Long Cove Road. The land had been owned by the Bamford family for multiple generations, and no one in the family wanted to see it developed. With funding from the Maine Natural Resources Conservation Program and through a generous bargain sale from the former owners, MCHT was able to permanently conserve the preserve’s diverse forests, wetlands, and shorefront.
Creating public access was another story, however. In 2017, the Town of St. George transferred a small but significant adjacent parcel to MCHT. This quarter-acre lot with frontage on Long Cove Road was home to the so-called “Woodcrafter’s Building,” which underwent several incarnations before falling into disrepair. The town came into possession of the land through tax delinquency, and when MCHT acquired the Bamford lands, it seemed a natural fit for this property to serve as a future trailhead. Working with George C. Hall the following year, the MCHT demolished the building (already partially collapsed thanks to snow-loading and neglect), cleaned up the site, and in early 2019 created a four-car parking area with funding from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund. MCHT staff and local volunteers have since planted the old building footprint in a mix of native shrubs and trees, hoping to improve the view as well as create better bird and pollinator habitat. They also revamped an old woods road into a 0.3-mile trail to the shore where a few (well, more than a few) hours spent with chainsaws, clearing saws, and a brush-hog have turned an overgrown tangle of invasive plants and wild apple trees into a welcoming meadow complete with a picnic table and shore access. MCHT staff especially recommend visiting in mid-September, when the blackberries are ripe and the mosquitoes a little less fierce. MCHT welcomes St. George and especially Long Cove residents to enjoy this new neighborhood preserve. It’s a great place for an easy but highly scenic walk.
On the other side of town is another new preserve, this one owned by the Town of St. George. The Meadow Brook Preserve consists of 22 acres of highly scenic forest and marshland on the southeastern side of Turkey Cove Road, just west of the Transfer Station. Thanks to the efforts of the St. George Conservation Commission and the Georges River Land Trust—and with funding from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and matching town funds—there is now a three-car parking area and a 0.7-mile trail that leads hikers through the woods and to the brook for which the preserve is named.
MCHT originally acquired this property with funding from the Maine Natural Resources Conservation Program and then deeded it to the town. To ensure its permanent conservation, the Georges River Land Trust holds a conservation easement on the land, and also assists the town with management. Over the past year the St. George Conservation Commission met with abutters and local school teachers to solicit their input as to the preserve’s development. After many exploratory walks covering all seasons a final trail route was determined. This past summer and early fall Conservation Commission members, Georges River Land Trust staff and dedicated volunteers completed work on the trail construction. This included determining the final path, clearing brush and downed trees along the path and painting blazes along the trail. The kiosk was also constructed and installed.
The Town of St. George, MCHT, and the Georges River Land Trust welcome you to explore these special places. In the spirit of “leave no trace,” please be prepared to carry out all waste (including pet waste) when visiting the properties, keep pets under control, share the trail, and don’t forget your bug spray from early summer through fall.
(Devine is a Regional Stewardship Manager at the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.)
PHOTO: Dan Verillo