Leila and Suhail Bisharat, shown here, sold a wooded parcel to the Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust. Leila Bishart’s father, Blanchard Bates, was one of the original founders of CCLT. Contributed / Jodi Federle

Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust acquired two parcels in March that have significant value to the Chebeague Island community.

CCLT bought a 24.3-acre forest in the center of the island known as Littlefield Woods and accepted the donation of Chebeague’s treasured skating pond and land surrounding it, Chris Cabot, executive director of CCLT, said in a prepared release.

“Protecting Littlefield Woods was a top priority for CCLT because it is a portion of the largest remaining block of forest on the island and features critical wildlife habitat, a popular and well-established system of trails and essential wetlands,” Cabot said. “Perhaps, most importantly, the intact forest plays a critical role in sustaining the island’s sole source aquifer.”

According to Cabot, the parcel’s historic cart trails and the remnants of a thriving neighborhood date back to the 18th century.

Littlefield Woods connects to the Durgin Trail, which was protected by a trail easement acquired by CCLT in 2017 from Marianne Durgin.

Cabot said the trust’s long-term strategic vision is to develop a system of connected properties and trails for the island that are protected in perpetuity.

Sanford’s Pond, Chebeague Island’s beloved skating pond, was donated to the CCLT by Jackie Trask, seen here with CCLT Executive Director Chris Cabot at the March 15 closing. Contributed / Penny Asherman

CCLT embarked on the campaign to purchase Littlefield Woods in March 2020 and completed the purchase one year later.

The property was owned by Leila and Suhail Bisharat, who sold the property to the trust at well below market, according to Cabot. Leila’s father, Blanchard Bates, was one of the original founders of CCLT. His wish to see the land protected was granted with CCLT’s purchase of the property.

“It means a great deal to Leila and myself to have the Woods protected in perpetuity as a tribute to Blanchard Bates,” Suhail Bisharat said. “I come from a region that suffers water shortages and lack of trees. I was blessed to come here and make Chebeague my home.”

On March 15, CCLT accepted the donation of Sanford’s Pond, Chebeague’s historic skating pond, from Jackie Trask. Trask’s parents, Sanford and Mabel Doughty, were legendary figures on Chebeague Island, the release noted. Mabel Trask was one of the founders of CCLT and her husband created and maintained the pond.

“My parents would be very excited to know that this property is protected,” Trask said. “This donation … reflects the spirit of generosity that they instilled in me.”

Track also gifted the trust with a half-acre of land and access to the shore at Bennett’s Cove.

“Both Sanford’s Pond and Littlefield Woods are engrained in the fabric of the island community and needed to be protected,” Cabot said. “Land trusts are increasingly turning their attention to community-driven projects like these that provide ecological value, essential resource protection and invaluable access to outdoor spaces.”

Since it was founded in 1987, CCLT has completed 30 conservation projects over approximately 1,050 acres.