KITTERY, Maine – The Kittery Land Trust took a big step forward with its Brave Boat Headwaters project when the Sawyer and Coggeshall families donated 43 acres of woodland and farm fields off Bartlett Road to the trust for permanent protection. The land has been owned by the family since the 1920s.
William Sawyer, who just turned 83, reminisced about the land he grew up on while signing the legal papers for the agreement recently. “The day I was born in 1932, my mother and father traveled to York Hospital from the farm in a horse drawn pung, which is a farm sleigh.”
While much has changed in Kittery since then, the Sawyer Farm and large blocks of land around it are still mostly undeveloped.
“It’s thrilling to know that the world around us will change, but this beautiful farm will remain in its natural state for generations to come,” said KLT Executive Director Christine Bennett.
The conservation agreement sealed last month involved three parts of the Sawyer family – William and Barbara, their niece Starr Motson, and daughter Ashley Heffron who lives and farms on the property with her family. The complicated agreement was nearly five years in the making. It represents a major addition to the overall effort to protect Brave Boat Headwaters, a 150-acre block of woodlands and wetlands between Bartlett Road and Route 103.
“It is a tremendous gift to know that what you treasure most will be preserved for generations to come” Heffron said.
In November 2013, the KLT bought one of the other five parcels that make up the Brave Boat Headwaters project from a developer who proposed a 27-unit subdivision on the property. The area has long been a conservation priority for the trust because the wetlands and streams that connect fresh water and the estuary in Brave Boat Harbor create rich habitat for threatened plant and animals, and even provide a home for otters that move between the woods and coast.
On the fundraising front, KLT is making headway to make the Brave Boat Headwaters Preserve a reality with a $30,000 award from the Conservation Alliance. A national organization supported by outdoor industry companies like Patagonia, REI, North Face, EMS and others, the Conservation Alliance supports conservation efforts throughout North America.
“We were very excited to make a grant to the Kittery Land Trust for its important work,” said Conservation Alliance Executive Director John Sterling. “It might be smaller in scale than some of our other projects, but by protecting this 150-acre block, KLT is protecting a critical link between other protected lands and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.”
Bennett said the Kittery Land Trust is grateful for the support from the Conservation Alliance.
“It brings us a big step closer to protecting this beautiful block of land where we plan to have a network of trails and outdoor programs for Kittery school kids,” she said. “Just as Brave Boat Headwaters connects uplands to the estuary, this preserve will connect people to the land and nature.”
For more information, visit www.kitterylandtrust.org.