This recent photo shows the North Acres Wildlife Conservation Area, the newest Kennebec Land Trust property, on Lyons Road in Manchester. The 132-acre piece of land includes publicly accessible trails for hiking, skiing, snowmobiling and areas for hunting. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

MANCHESTER — With the recent acquisition of properties in Manchester and Vassalboro, the Kennebec Land Trust has now hit the milestone of having 7,500 acres of conserved land.

The Manchester property, called North Acres Wildlife Conservation Area, is 132 acres and was donated by longtime residents of the town Trudie Lee and Deb Plengey, who own the Maine Lee Morgan Horse Farm. They donated the land  in memory of their parents: Ruth and Richard Lee, and William and Carolyn Plengey, according to the land trust.

The organization will hold a dedication at the Manchester property on Lyons Road on Thursday at 5 p.m.

Lee and Plengey will continue to harvest hay on the land, which they have done for decades. The area will also become a spot for low-impact public recreational activities like hiking, snowmobiling, hunting and skiing.

The 36-acre Vassalboro property was sold to the land trust by longtime resident Maybelle Dean and her family. The land will serve as an addition to the land trust’s Vassalboro Wildlife Habitat, bringing the entire area to 366 acres.

The Vassalboro Wildlife Habitat is a large, contiguous area full of plant and wildlife with trails for walking, cross country skiing, birding, fishing and access to half a mile of shoreline on Webber Pond.

Advertisement

Kennebec Land Trust President Janet Sawyer said the 7,500-acre milestone was a significant feat for the organization.

“We aren’t quite 35 years in, and we have 7,500 acres, so we are feeling that that is a cause for celebration,” she said.

Sawyer said that, when land is conserved, it means that there won’t be any development on that property.

This recent photo shows the North Acres Wildlife Conservation Area, the newest Kennebec Land Trust property, on Lyons Road in Manchester. The 132-acre piece of land includes publicly accessible trails for hiking, skiing, snowmobiling and areas for hunting. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“It’s an area that will stay conserved, and there is often public access for trails, snowmobiling or hunting, and often times we will have a management plan for woodlands if that’s appropriate for a property,” she said. “So we would manage the woodlands for a wildlife habitat and for the health of the forest.”

The land trust has 55 miles of public trails altogether.

Sawyer said their dedications are typically informal, and the event in Manchester on Thursday involves walking throughout the newly acquired area. Accommodations will be made for any people unable to walk down, such as riding via ATV or similar vehicle.

Advertisement

Sawyer, Plengey and Lee will make comments before guests have an opportunity to walk down the trail, and Sawyer said the land trust will provide a way for people to continue over the stream to the larger pasture area if they want to get a view of the hills and open area on the other side.

She added light refreshments are planned to be provided.

Looking ahead, Sawyer said the land trust is always on the hunt for properties that could be acquired, and potential donors or sellers in the area.

The organization’s website says it works to ensure that future properties coincide with their mission statement to work “cooperatively with landowners and communities to conserve the forests, lakes, streams, wetlands, fields and wildlife that help define central Maine,” and to permanently steward land and “offer access and opportunities for people to learn about and enjoy the natural world,” in addition to working with partners to support sustainable forestry and farming.

Sawyer said the Manchester property perfectly embodies these characteristics.

The land trust now has more than 1,000 household members and roughly 100 volunteers, a number that Sawyer said is “just amazing.”

“We really take pride in the stewardship we provide on our lands,” she said. “Every time we have land donated or purchase land, we figure what it will cost to take care of everything long-term, and we have a lot of volunteers who help us maintain our properties.”

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.