I made a fabulous discovery a few weeks ago. On a bright and icy cold day, I bundled up and headed over to Woodward Point in east Brunswick, eager to see for myself what Angela Twitchell, executive director of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, had told me was “an amazing place that almost no one knows about.” She was right. The view from the parking area was stunning, and it only got better on my hour-long exploration. Guided by Keith Fletcher from Maine Coast Heritage Trust, I crossed rolling hayfields, passed a stream and a large freshwater pond, poked around in the pine and hardwood forests, and stood in awe at the shimmering shoreline. There weren’t many birds to see on that cold day, but I had a lovely look at a porcupine sequestered high in a White Pine.  

For the past two years, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) and Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) have been working in partnership to preserve 89 acres on Woodward Point. With two peninsulas and more than 2 miles of shoreline on the New Meadows River, the property is one of the last remaining undeveloped waterfront parcels of its size in southern Maine. It’s also is one of the last large coastal parcels available to conserve in Brunswick. Woodward Point will be a public preserve, available for outdoor recreation, water access, and education. It will also protect an ecologically significant area. Of particular note are its shellfish flats, which are among the most productive in the state.  

$3.5 million, which includes the purchase price as well as an endowment for stewardship, is needed to preserve this remarkable property. The deadline for raising the funds is March 31 of this year. To date, $2.82 million has been raised, and a generous donor has pledged a dollar-for-dollar match for the remainder. This means an additional $340,000 (to be matched by $340,000) is needed. More than 80 individuals and organizations have contributed so far, ranging from local residents to the Land for Maine’s Future Program and the federal government. Now, it’s time for the town of Brunswick to lend a hand. 

Last week, BTLT and MCHT made a formal request to the Brunswick Town Council to make a significant contribution to the Woodward Point project, from the funds set aside for water-access purposes from the sale of 946 Mere Point Road in 2017. I hope the Council will enthusiastically support this request. The Council endorsed the project early on, when it provided a letter of support for a Coastal Wetlands Grant that netted $570,000. Now, with a financial contribution of its own, the Town can help ensure the success of this project. As the list of potential donors grows smaller and the purchase deadline grows closer, a contribution from the Town of Brunswick will make all the difference. 

In addition to the recreational, educational, and ecological benefits that Woodward Point will provide the Town, consider these points as well: 

  • The acquisition will help the Town meet the goal in its 2002 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan to acquire more water-access points. 
  • Because the property will be owned and maintained by BTLT and MCHT, the Town will reap the public benefits of the property without incurring the management expenses.  
  • The project will not represent a significant loss to the Town’s tax base because the property has long been enrolled as open space.

The preservation of Woodward Point really began almost 40 years ago, when a young couple, Jaki Ellis and Andy Cook, asked the farmer who owned the property if they could buy a few acres on which to build a house. The farmer preferred to sell the whole property, and offered to help Ellis and Cook learn how to run the farm. The couple took him up on his offer and for many years continued to raise beef cattle. Now they want to pass the land along intact, as it was passed on to them. They are selling the land well below appraised value and gave MCHT and BTLT two years to raise the funds. 

I look forward to the opening of Woodward Point and to many more walks there, in all seasons. You can learn more about the property and the effort to preserve it at the BTLT and MCHT websites. You may even find yourself doing what my husband and I recently did: with great joy, we made an online donation to the project. 

Liz Pierson is a Brunswick resident, BTLT and MCHT member, and member of the BTLT’s advisory council. 

Comments are not available on this story.