Conservation of 178-Acre Edgecomb Parcel Protects River~Link Trail

Conservation of 178-Acre Edgecomb Parcel Protects River~Link Trail

Article by Abigail Adams in The Lincoln County News

July 15, 2017

Damariscotta River Association Executive Director Steve Hufnagel looks at the marker for the River-Link Trail on the Barrows Louderback Preserve in Edgecomb on Monday, July 10. (Abigail Adams photo)

The Damariscotta River Association recently closed on a 178-acre parcel in Edgecomb, permanently protecting critical wetlands habitat and a half-mile tract of the River-Link Trail between the Damariscotta and Sheepscot rivers.

Hikers were previously able to walk the land, which helps connect Dodge Point Preserve in Newcastle to the Schmid Preserve in Edgecomb, due to a trail agreement with the landowner, said DRA Executive Director Steve Hufnagel.

The agreement was temporary, revocable, and provided no guarantee that the uninterrupted wildlife corridor created by the River-Link Trail would remain free from development, Hufnagel said.

The DRA and the group of land trusts, municipalities, government agencies, and private landowners that has worked to build the River-Link since the late 1990s now has that guarantee, he said.

With help from a Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program grant and funding from the Ram Island Conservation Fund at the Maine Community Foundation, DRA closed on the property for $176,000 in late June.

The property is now known as the Barrows Louderback Preserve in honor of the previous owners – Marianne Louderback and her grandfather, Paul Barrows, one of the first professional foresters in Maine, Hufnagel said.

Barrows deeded the property to his granddaughter, who gave DRA priority when selling it, allowing more than a year for DRA to secure the funding for its purchase, Hufnagel said.

Barrows “loved this property,” Hufnagel said. “Marianne is really pleased it will be forever protected.”

The DRA calls the Barrows Louderback Preserve the “golden spike” of the River-Link Trail, a 7-mile trail cut through more than 1,500 acres of contiguous conservation land stretching from the Damariscotta River to the Sheepscot River.

For nearly two decades, more than a dozen organizations have worked together to ensure wildlife would have access to an uninterrupted corridor of land between the rivers.

The marker between the Barrows Louderback Preserve and the Schmid Preserve in Edgecomb. (Abigail Adams photo)

The trail is now complete, connecting the Dodge Point Preserve on the Damariscotta River in Newcastle with the Zak Preserve on Wildcat Creek in Boothbay. Wildcat Creek drains into the Sheepscot River. The wildlife corridor is home to “shy animals,” such as moose, bear, deer, bobcats, fisher cats, and a variety of birds that would not be able to successfully nest or survive without a large tract of land to move through, Hufnagel said.

Those animals roam freely through the River-Link corridor, undisturbed by the human habitation just miles away from it, Hufnagel said.

“It really feels like the North Woods and it’s right outside the back door,” Hufnagel said. “You can hunt and fish right out your back door. You can go 5 miles without crossing a road.”

Read the full article in The Lincoln County News

See River~Link map and trail info