Barbara Dow Nucci, center, cuts a ceremonial ribbon to officially open the new Dow’s Woods Preserve and Trail with councilor April Carrichio, South Portland Land Trust President Richard Rottkov, and councilors Maxine Beecher and SuSee san Henderson. (Photo courtesy Denise Michaud)

SOUTH PORTLAND — The Dow’s Woods Preserve and Trail opened Aug. 1, drawing about 75 people to a ribbon cutting and tour of the 9.3-acre parcel, whose entrance is located at 590 Highland Ave.

The Dow’s Woods Trail loops through the Dow’s Woods Nature Preserve, whose acreage houses undeveloped, dense woodland and a two-acre pond. The pond is part of the Kimball Brook system, a 1.55-mile stream which stretches down Highland and flows into Trout Brook, eventually emptying into Casco Bay.

The preserve is one of only two in South Portland, joining the Trout Brook Nature Preserve.

“We’re thrilled that the woods and pond behind our family home will remain forever a sanctuary for all the flora and fauna which have flourished there undisturbed,” Barbara Dow Nucci said. “It’ll provide an essential habitat for wetland plants and animals, and preserve hundreds of mature trees.”

Nucci is at the forefront of the family’s effort to preserve the property. In 2016, the Dow family transferred the parcel to H.W. Land Company for residential development with the condition that nine acres of the land become a nature preserve.

The preserve, now open to the public, is intended to serve as a peaceful retreat for walkers, birders, scientists, students, and nature-lovers, Nucci said. It’s only accessible by foot, and pets aren’t allowed, nor are motorized vehicles or bicycles.

“The ribbon-cutting event was a huge success,” South Portland Land Trust President Richard Rottkov said. “We had a large turnout, the weather was beautiful, and the atmosphere was joyous.”

The South Portland Land Trust is a nonprofit organization which foots initiatives to connect neighborhoods and improve quality of life in the city through open space conservation, trail expansion, and public education.

Currently, it holds 18 properties and easements.

It attained Dow’s Woods Nature Preserve’s easement in December 2015, paying $140,000 from the city’s Land Trust Bank, which has only been used four times, and currently contains over $900,000, according to Rottkov.

“With increasing development and public health challenges, accessible green space and natural habitats are more critical than ever,” Rottkov said. “The benefits of over nine acres in a densely populated area is huge.”

According to the National Recreation and Park Association, preserves are key to public health because their landscapes are carbon-reducing and cleanse air and water, and they provide communities safe, affordable, and healthy access to nature.

“Not only does Dow’s Woods Preserve protect an ecosystem for birds and other animals, it helps offset the building of carbon dioxide in the air and reduces the Greenhouse Effect,” Rottkov said. “It’s a real gem for South Portland.”

South Portland Land Trust’s next project for the preserve is to filtrate the pond, which is full of cat tails and invasive species. If it finds volunteer support, it hopes to tackle filtration this fall.

Evelyn Waugh can be reached at [email protected] or 780- 9026.

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