CAPE ELIZABETH – As a youngster visiting his family’s second home, Peter Robinson skated on the nearby pond in winters and in the summers played in the brook that fed it.
Now, thanks to a deal that closed Tuesday, the parcel that contains those and other natural treasures will be permanently protected from development. The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust’s acquisition of the 63.6-acre property known as Robinson Woods II creates 145 contiguous conservation acres that include valuable wildlife habitat and provide a critical link in the town’s greenbelt system.
Robinson’s family has enjoyed the land off Shore Road for generations and has allowed public use of it for as long as he can remember. Robinson, whose parents now live in town, said Tuesday that he was confident of the land trust’s ability to preserve the land’s character.
“It’s always been a place for quiet contemplation and enjoying the natural environment, the fresh air,” Robinson, who lives in New York City, said during a telephone interview.
The land trust recently completed its $1.2 million fundraising effort; $1.1 million was for the purchase from the Robinson Family LLC and the other $100,000 was for stewardship. As part of the deal, the land trust granted a public access easement to the town and a conservation easement to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.
The Robinson family has had land in the area since the 18th century and retains that section. The family acquired the Robinson Woods II area through land swaps in the 1930s and 1940s.
Open fields, mature woodlands, wetlands and falls that make their way among moss-tinged rocks are among the features of Robinson Woods II. The property includes habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, the threatened spotted turtle and the endangered New England cottontail rabbit.
The land trust decided five years ago that Robinson Woods II was its No. 1 land conservation priority.
One of the most important aspects of the property is its adjacency to Robinson Woods I, said Ted Darling, the land trust’s president. The land trust acquired the 79-acre Robinson Woods I from John Robinson, Peter Robinson’s uncle, in 2001.
The property’s role in the town’s 7.5-mile greenbelt system was the other major factor, Darling said. With the acquisition of Robinson Woods II, now only about a quarter of a mile of the cross-town trail between Fort Williams and Kettle Cove, is unprotected from development, he said.
Robinson Woods II is a popular spot for hikers, mountain bikers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers. On Tuesday morning, Sara Lennon was walking her dog on the carpet of fallen leaves, by a pond topped with shards of thin ice.
Lennon, chairwoman of the Town Council, noted that the town was the largest single donor for the conservation project. She said the town’s $350,000 contribution shows the high priority residents place on open land.
“Land acquisition is the one thing everyone can agree on,” she said.
Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: