The Scarborough Land Trust recently added 55 acres to the Warren Woods preserve. Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

Scarborough Land Trust is expanding its 156-acre Warren Woods preserve by more than 70 acres following a “unique transaction” in December and another land purchase expected to come in March.

A map of the Warren Woods expansion. The 55-acre expansion closed in December is labeled “Newly Acquired” and the 16.5-acre acquisition Scarborough Land Trust hopes to complete in March is labeled “Under Contract.” Courtesy / Scarborough Land Trust

The land trust acquired 55 acres to the west of the preserve, which stretches from Bridges Drive to the south, northward to Ashley Drive. The new land is sandwiched between I-295 to the west and Payne Road to the east. Next month, the land trust expects to close on a deal for an additional 16½ acres east of the preserve.

The land trust bought the new land for $525,000; however, it was a “unique transaction,” Andrew Mackie, Executive Director of the Scarborough Land Trust, said.

“We made an offer that they considered too low,” Mackie said. “They did not accept that offer and they decided to list the properties with an online auction company.”

The nonprofit organization learned of the listing, made by Five Star Investment Holdings, in late October,  just weeks before it went to auction in November.

“We prefer to deal directly with the owner,” said board President Rick Shinay. “Make a long-term purchase agreement, which gives us time to fundraise.”


There is a “pretty rigorous” process the land trust usually goes through, which includes appraisals from a third party and a site walk, Mackie said.

“All that due diligence can take six months or sometimes more,” he said. “We had a very short window to do all our homework.”

The land trust used a 2017 appraisal for the property, got the opinion of a real estate broker and used a town assessment of the property. They were able to sign an agreement with Five Star Investment Holdings mid-auction, affectively ending the auction early. However, they needed to close the deal by December. With just weeks to come up with the money, the land trust received overwhelming support, Mackie said.

“We were able to get a couple of large donations from some very key supporters of ours that want to remain anonymous,” he said.

Four anonymous donors contributed a total of $175,000, and with more donations from other individuals, the Friends of Scarborough Marsh and the Fields Pond Foundation, the land trust raised roughly $300,000 in just three weeks. The remaining $225,000 came from the land trust’s own funds.

The 55-acre plot is of great importance to the land trust, Mackie said, because of its natural resources, forested wetlands and the northern part of the plot encompassing a stretch of the Nonesuch River. The land purchase in March will also include land along the river.


“Those characteristics are very important for the functioning of our systems, wildlife habitat, and things like flood protection,” he said. “This is part of the Scarborough Land Trust’s effort to really try and ramp up some of our conservation work.”

The land trust has plans to expand its trail system into the new areas, but that may take some time.

“Generally speaking, we’d like to make our property as accessible as possible for the public, usually through a nice trail system,” Shinay said. “We haven’t yet fully investigated this property in terms of where a trail system would be laid out, so it’s early in that process.”

Another hurdle is Payne Road splitting the preserve from land acquired in December.

“We don’t want people to walk across Payne Road, because it’s a very busy road,” Mackie said. “So, we are looking to see where potential parking spots would be.”

To learn more about Scarborough Land Trust projects, like the Warren Woods expansion, visit To donate to their cause, go

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