The northern property is known as the McKay Farm preserve and the southern parcel is known as the Duley Farm preserve. The land trust hopes to connect the properties and create a walking trail from the north end of Phippsburg down toward Popham Beach at the end of the peninsula. Photo courtesy of the Phippsburg Land Trust

PHIPPSBURG — The Phippsburg Land Trust acquired two parcels, totaling 241 acres, doubling in size.

“These large, unbroken chunks of land are really valuable for maintaining animal habitats,” said Brenda Cummings, president of the Phippsburg Land Trust.

One of the parcels includes wetlands known to be a habitat for spotted turtles, which are classified as threatened under the Maine Endangered Species Act. Sarah Haggerty, a conservation biologist with Maine Audubon, said maintaining and protecting that area is essential to the state’s overall population.

“The challenge that most wildlife face is habitat loss,” said Haggerty. “The spotted turtle is really only found in southern Maine where the highest development pressures are, so being able to set aside a chunk of land where they can have everything they need is imperative.”

The two properties once were owned by the McKay and Duley families but later were sold to the Morse family in the 1940s or 1950s, who harvested wood from the properties, according to John Morse IV, whose family owns Sagadahock Real Estate Association.

“Now, I’ve retired from working the sawmill and my offspring aren’t interested in manufacturing,” said Morse. “I can’t take the land with me, so I decided to sell it to [the land trust] at a reduced rate.”

The northern parcel, known as the McKay Farm preserve, was purchased for $33,800 and the southern parcel, known as the Duley Farm preserve, was purchased for $61,400. The nonprofit also used $89,000 of grant funding from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act to purchase the land.

Morse said he’s a “proponent of saving unique pieces of land” and believes the Phippsburg Land Trust will ensure the land is well taken care of.

“One of the lots has a marsh in it and it needed to be preserved,” said Morse. “There still needs to be some land people can go out and go hunting on. I don’t want the land to turn into one big housing development.”

Aside from acting as wildlife habitats, Cummings said the land “creates a possibility of fulfilling this dream the land trust has had from its earliest days.” She said the land trust’s goal is to connect the pieces of land and create a walking trail from the north end of Phippsburg down toward Popham Beach at the end of the peninsula. She said she doesn’t know when that plan will be completed, but having ownership of the land is a step in the right direction.

“It’s important to have Baxter State Park and large-scale places like that, but the places you fall in love with are the places you see every day,” said Cummings. “Our point is not just to protect the large preserves, but it’s to protect the smaller preserves all over Phippsburg where kids can play outdoors.”


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