CHEBEAGUE ISLAND — The Chebeague and Cumberland Land Trust is working towards purchasing Littlefield Woods, a 25-acre stretch of forest on Chebeague Island.

Chris Cabot, executive director of the land trust, said the organization started speaking with owners Leila and Suhail Bisharat in early 2018 about the purchase. Leila’s father was a founding member of the Chebeague and Cumberland Land Trust and she is a former board member.

Littlefield Woods on Chebeague Island contains walking trails that date back to the 1800s. Courtesy / Jodi Federle

In April 2020, the land trust signed a purchase and sale agreement with the Bisharats, giving them until April 2021 to come up with $160,000 to purchase the land, which Cabot estimates is about $30,000 below the fair market value.

“We really wanted to jump on the opportunity to protect this forest,” Cabot said. “It’s at the top of our list of importance in terms of properties to protect on the interior of the island.”

Littlefield Woods is part of the largest contiguous block of forest on the island. It has many unique features, but most notable is its role as a recharge area for the island’s sole aquifer, where islanders get their drinking water.

In a letter posted on Chebeague Island’s website, community members Michael Porter, Beverly Johnson and Donna Damon asked their neighbors to lend their support for the purchase, as well as the importance of saving the land.

“The woods and trails will be a resource not just for us but for generations to come,” Porter, Johnson and Damon said. “We want our descendants to have the same opportunity that we have had to roam the woods, follow the trails and imagine what life on Chebeague was like when the stone walls were built.”

Cabot could not provide the amount that has been raised to date, only that he estimates the land trust will be able to wrap up fundraising by the end of the year. The trust hopes to hold an official celebration of the newly protected land in late spring or early summer 2021.

Comments are not available on this story.