Steep Falls Village Preserve is a 25-acre property on Mill Street in Standish that will officially be open to the public this weekend. Contributed / Presumpscot Regional Land Trust

The Steep Falls Village Preserve, a 25-acre property off Mill Street in Standish, will host its grand opening Saturday.

The day before the public event, the Anderson family will officially donate the $80,000 property to the  Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, which will manage the meadow and forest that was once home to a lumber mill active until the 1980s, according to Rachelle Curran Apse, the trust’s executive director.

Mark Anderson said the donation fulfills his late parents’ wishes to conserve the site of the former mill they operated, and the property’s availability to the public now is an additional win.

“The whole community can take advantage of it,” Anderson said.

A kiosk will provide a history of the property and trail maps. Educational signs will also be put up around the preserve, Curran Apse said.

The new preserve is special, Curran Apse said, because it abuts the Steep Falls Wildlife Management Area, which encompasses 4,000 acres of state land, and the Mountain Division Trail, a paved trail along an unused rail corridor that connects Windham, Gorham and Standish and has the potential to expand.  Nearby on Mill Street is a playground run by the town of Standish.

The acquisition of the property has taken about a year, Curran Apse said, and has involved the raising of $40,000, all contributed by 65 local families.

“We don’t have things (like this) that are really close,” said Andrew Walton, one of the fundraisers. “This being just a minute down the road is going to be amazing. We’re going to be out here all the time exploring.”

The preserve’s trails are “wide, family-friendly and pretty flat,” Curran Apse said. No other walking trails exist within six miles of the village of Steep Falls, she said.

Another feature of the preserve is its more than 10 acres of meadow, a primary habitat for pollinators and ground-nesting birds, because “meadows are declining quickly in the state of Maine,” Curran Apse said.

Family events — such as a scavenger hunt and a buildable fairy-gnome village — will be part of the grand opening celebration, which begins at 1 p.m. on Oct. 23. Registration is required at prlt.org/event-sign-up-steepfalls.

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