The new Thayer Brook Preserve in Gray abuts Libby Hill Forest and expands accessible land to the public, including to Gray-New Gloucester schools. Contributed / Royal River Conservation Trust

Royal River Conservation Trust has acquired 150 acres of land between Ramsdell Road and Libby Hill Forest in Gray for the creation of the Thayer Brook Preserve.

The preserve abuts the Libby Hill Forest trails, doubling the amount of conserved land surrounding Gray-New Gloucester High School and Middle School, located on Libby Hill Road in Gray.

“The students use the land behind the schools for cross country running and cross country skiing. The science classes use the woods and the streams for nature-based classwork,” said RRCT Executive Director Alan Stearns. “It’s the perfect project to expand the conserved land behind the schools knowing the school system is already bringing kids outside both for recreation and science.”

This is the trust’s first significant conservation project in Gray.

“Gray, from a conservation perspective, from the perspective of a kid wanting to play in the woods behind her neighborhood, the simple fact is that Gray has fallen behind Cumberland County,” Stearns said at an April 19 Town Council meeting. “Working together, we think we can catch up.”

Thayer Brook Preserve now abuts the existing Libby Hill Forest trail system, which is located on Libby Hill Road, next to both Gray-New Gloucester High School and Middle School. Rachel Vitello / The Forecaster

Both state and federal climate task forces have set goals for 30% land conservation in Maine and nationally by 2030, according to the Maine Climate Council.


The Gray Town Council budgeted $30,000 in their budget for the upcoming fiscal year to build a parking lot on Ramsdell Road to support access to the new preserve, according to Vice Chairperson Anne Gass. That will mean a shorter drive to the Libby Hill trails system for those in west Gray and less traffic congestion on Route 26 and Libby Hill Road.

The council recently adopted an Open Space Plan, which was produced by “hardworking volunteers,” Gass said. The plan “seeks to ‘protect and connect’ existing and future conserved land in Gray, and gives us a sort of roadmap for doing so,” she said.

“It identifies the need to add to the Libby Hill conservation area and the critical role the land trusts must play in helping us. Thayer Brook Preserve is a terrific start to our partnership with Royal River to begin implementing the plan.”

The Durgin and Rogers families, who have owned the land for more than a century, worked with the land trust to have their land protected for future generations.

The preserve includes a 60-acre beaver marsh formed by six beaver dams, a large population of white-tailed deer and rocky terrain.

Tours are at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 5. The preserve is accessible near 118 Ramsdell Road with parking allowed in the old log yard.


The preserve does not have signs or trails established yet, but it is now open to the public. The land trust plans to begin work on hiking and biking trails this summer.

Dogs are required to be on leash and no hunting is permitted.

More information about the preserve can be found at

“We’re very excited that this is the first of hopefully many partnerships with Royal River,” Council Chairperson Sandra Carder said at the April 19 council meeting. “I’m a big fan of Libby Hill, I’m up there all the time so I’m just thrilled this will be preserved.”

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