Ben Hallowell (center) with Maine Coast Heritage Trust leads a tour from one of the trails at Woodward Point down to the water. (Hannah LaClaire/The Times Record)

BRUNSWICK — Countless porcupines, bobolinks, shellfish and butterflies have enjoyed Brunswick’s Woodward Point for years, but now, after its official opening on Saturday, the town’s human residents can enjoy the area’s natural beauty as well. 

More than 100 people turned out to explore the sprawling meadows, forested trails and rocky coastline, as the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust celebrated the culmination of a two-year effort to conserve the 87-acre parcel of land. 

Margaret Gerber, a land steward from Brunswick Topsham Land Trust on a tour of the 1.5 miles of trails at the newly opened Woodward Point. (Hannah LaClaire/The Times Record)

The trusts raised $3.5 million to purchase the land and provide for its long-term management as a public preserve, including a $150,000 contribution from Brunswick in January, a $400,000 grant from the state’s Land for Maine’s Future Program, and $570,000 from a federal Coastal Wetlands grant. 

The land includes roughly 1.5 miles of trails and more than 2 miles of shore frontage on the New Meadows River and Woodward Cove, which feature four specific water access points for recreation. 

The water access has been touted as one of the particular benefits of the property, and while Brunswick’s coastline isn’t exactly composed of white sandy beaches, according to land steward Caitlin Gerber, they do hope it will be a place where families can come swim, kayak, fish or enjoy the water.

“Brunswick has very little guaranteed public access to its shores for recreation, and opening Woodward Point to the public is a huge leap forward for the town,” Mike Lyne, chairman of the town’s recreation commission, said in a news release.

Dogs, like these two Brittany Spaniels enjoying a walk on the trails on Saturday, are allowed at the Woodward Point Preserve on leashes. (Hannah LaClaire/The Times Record)

Angela Twitchell, executive director of the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust added that “We have lacked a large, open property on the water where people can get outside and enjoy the views, dip your feet in the water and generally relish in (the) natural beauty Brunswick has to offer.”

Brunswick is not alone in this. According to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, “just 1% of the coastline offers guaranteed access for recreationists and commercial fishermen to get out on the water.” 

Increased waterfront access is also a priority for the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust, Twitchell said in May, partly because “If we don’t have more access to our coasts and rivers then only people wealthy enough to own a house on the coast” will be able to enjoy it.

Since 2014, the heritage trust has helped conserve 40 miles of shorefront in the state and more than 300 coastal islands since 1970. 

Conservation of Woodward Point also protects shorebird feeding and roosting habitats, upland wetland habitat and access for shellfish harvesters to adjacent clam flats at Woodward Cove, according to the trusts.

Some pieces are still in the works, Gerber said, like more stairs to the water for safer access and as an erosion control method and perhaps the installation of a kayak slide. 

The area, located near Cook’s Corner at 225 Woodward Point Road is open during daylight hours. Dogs are allowed on a leash. 

A view of some of the two-miles of preserved coast at Woodward Point in Brunswick. (Hannah LaClaire/The Times Record)

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