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

More than 100 people turned out to explore the 87 acres of sprawling meadows, forested trails and rocky coastline to help the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust officially open the preserve and celebrate the culmination of a two-year effort to conserve the parcel.

The trusts raised $3.5 million to purchase the land and provide for its long-term management as a public preserve, including $150,000 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.

Dogs are allowed in Woodward Point but must be on a leash. Hannah LaClaire/Times Record

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 that features four places with water access. Dogs are allowed in the preserve and must be leashed.

That access to has been touted as one of the particular benefits of the property. While Brunswick’s coastline isn’t exactly composed of white sandy beaches, the land trusts hope the preserve will be a place where families can come swim, kayak, fish and enjoy the water, said Caitlin Gerber, a land steward for the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

“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.

Angela Twitchell, executive director of the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust, echoed that perspective.

“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,” Twitchell said.

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

Woodward Point preserve has four water access points where visitors can swim, fish and kayak, or just stop to take in the views. Hannah LaClaire/Times Record

Increased waterfront access also is 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, the trusts said.

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

The preserve, near Cook’s Corner at 225 Woodward Point Road, is open during daylight hours.

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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