Bordering Lake Auburn, the newly protected property will offer walking trails and a picnic spot when plans are completed. Androscoggin Land Trust

AUBURN — Conservation officials recently announced that a wooded 35.6-acre property bordering the southern end of Lake Auburn will be preserved as open space that will help protect water quality and wildlife.

The Summer Street lot, which long belonged to the Pope family, will be owned by the Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission, with the Androscoggin Land Trust holding a permanent conservation easement on the property.

Officials said the land, located shortly past Whiting farm for those heading west, will have public access.

The watershed commission plans a low-impact recreation trail across the property, with details expected in the spring. It will offer a place for walking, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and a spot for picnicking.

The .2-acre section immediately beside the lake, however, will be kept off-limits to protect water quality and wildlife habitats, officials said.

In a prepared statement from the land trust, Katherine S. Pope said the land was being preserved in part because her family hopes “people who visit will appreciate its history and the importance of protecting the watershed.”

The land was long part of Whiteholm Farm, a dairy farm owned and operated by Harold S. and Marion W. White from 1915 to 1973.

Location of the property the Androscoggin Land Trust aims to preserve as open space. Androscoggin Land Trust

John W. White, in an oral history recorded by Bates College, said the farm, in the family since 1794, once had “over a hundred milk cows there” and more than 200 registered Jersey cows.

Pope sold the land to the watershed commission in 2013 for $25,000, city records show. The commission’s role is to ensure clean drinking water for the Lewiston and Auburn area, which relies on unfiltered water from the lake.

“For drinking water sources, it is especially important to ensure that land near the source is not overdeveloped so that the land can still provide vital natural filtration services,” Erica Kidd, the commission’s watershed manager, said in a prepared release.

The land trust often partners with the commission “to monitor and steward their other conservation easements in the Lake Auburn watershed,” said Shelley Kruszewski, its executive director, in a prepared statement. It is pleased to add the Pope property to the land it keeps watch on, she said.

“Lake Auburn is the drinking water source for a large portion of the population that ALT serves,” she said, “and it drains to the Androscoggin River via Bobbin Brook, placing this property squarely within the mission” of the trust.

The Androscoggin Land Trust is a 30-year-old membership-supported non-profit organization dedicated to protecting, through land conservation and stewardship, the important natural areas traditional landscapes, and outdoor experiences within the Androscoggin River watershed.


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