Inaugural hikers tour the Underwood Springs Forest Preserve in Falmouth last week. Contributed / Falmouth Land Trust

The 52-acre Underwood Springs Forest Preserve in Falmouth is officially open.

The Falmouth Land Trust invited dozens of donors and supporters last week to two ceremonies to celebrate its newest property at the corner of Route 1 and Johnson Road.

“This is the land trust’s first conversation property east of Route 1 in over 20 years,” Executive Director Jennifer Grimm said.

The preserve has over a mile of trails and more will be constructed this year, she said.

“This land is gorgeous with abundant plant and wildlife,” Falmouth Town Council Chairwoman Amy Kuhn said.

It features “a cold spring fed brook, vernal pools and a diverse understory including ferns, flowers and endangered plants,” said Alex Perry, the land trust’s stewardship coordinator.

The land trust bought the land in November for $830,000. It was part of a larger property owned by the Hinks family for over 100 years and was instrumental to ice harvesting in the early 1900s, Grimm said.

The acquisition was a community effort with more than 330 households participating in the fundraising process.

Over 100 people signed up to attend the opening, but because of the pandemic and distancing requirements, the land trust could only accept about 50 people at two ceremonies. Participants were eager to get out on the trails for the first time, Grimm said.

Grimm said the acquisition was also made possible by donors such as the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program, the Davis Conservation Foundation and the Casco Bay Partnership.

“This project represents an unusual opportunity to protect a significant amount of headwater wetlands and accompanying habitat downstream, in close proximity to the city of Portland and the greater Portland area,” Matthew Craig of the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program said in a letter in support of project.

Grimm said the Falmouth Land Trust has protected over 50 properties since its conception 40 years ago, totaling almost 1,600 acres.

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