McIntosh Brook at Lowell Preserve in Windham. Contributed/ Ted Anderson Design & Photography

Lowell Preserve in Windham is one of the largest undeveloped forested properties in Maine with over 300 acres of trails and outdoor recreational space. However, the land has yet to be protected as open space. 

A proposed partnership between the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and the town of Windham would allow the land trust to place a conservation easement on the land. The move would permanently protect the land from being developed or subdivided and also allow the trust to build more developed and clear multi-use trails and signage. 

Jim McBride, a Windham resident and board member of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, enjoys a visit to Lowell Preserve. Contributed / Presumpscot Regional Land Trust

Lowell actually has no protections on it to ensure that it stays as open space into the future,” Rachelle Curran Apse, executive director of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, said.

Windham is one of the fastest growing communities in Maine, with the 13th largest population in the state. Due to recent rapid development, concerns over a lack of preserved open space also led the town to create an Open Space Plan in February that to protect farmland, water access, wildlife habitat and other open spaces.

“The collaboration (between the trust and the town) helps build awareness for the project so that more community members in the region are aware that this huge area will be forever conserved,” Apse said. “There’s an old, beautiful forest, and it’s so big. You can’t hear or see a car almost the whole time you’re in there, which is pretty incredible for Greater Portland to have that experience.”

The land trust is aiming to raise the remaining $30,000 needed to complete the project by the end of the summer. Gorham Savings Bank has announced a matching challenge for the month of July of up to $10,000, but the rest of the funds will have to come from donations.

“I think the land trust has a very good track record of being able to reach people who care, and if we learned anything through COVID, people love the opportunity to get out on publicly available land and to feel comfortable that they can be outdoors in a safe space, and really enjoy nature,” said Jim McBride, a Windham resident and land trust board member.

The trust will host a guided site walk for those interested in the project at 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 19, with online registration at prlt.org/events. Donations are being accepted at prlt.org/lowell-preserve-donation.

Lowell Preserve was purchased by the town from the Lowell family roughly 20 years ago and provides trails and outdoor space to the public, as well as access to McIntosh Brook.

“Lowell Preserve has been a resource that we’ve been utilizing for a while now, and I think that people have really benefited from having an area to escape from suburbia. It’s a great area for wildlife, it’s an area for just experiencing nature, it’s an area for anybody with all different types of recreational pursuits, so, horseback riding or ATVing or mountain biking or hiking, and all of that is so important,” said Linda Brooks, director of the Windham Parks and Recreation Department.

Once the trust raises enough money, it will be able to update the trail system and increase the signage, making Lowell Preserve a safe and accessible destination for all.

“Community members use and love the land, and we’re really excited to ensure that future generations are going to have the same opportunity,” Apse said.

A visitor enjoys the trails and McIntosh Brook at Lowell Preserve. Contributed / Presumpscot Regional Land Trust

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