Eight thousand people a year visit the little Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center on the edge of Maine’s largest saltwater estuary. It’s hard to imagine Scarborough without that busy little hut. And yet few people know about the man who, 50 years ago, had the idea for Maine Audubon to partner with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which had bought the land for fishing and hunting, and turn a vacant clam shack into a visitors’ center.

“The only credit I’m taking tonight is that I had the idea,” said Dick Anderson, who led Maine Audubon in the 1960s and ’70s.

“And he’s a force of nature,” said Andy Beahm, the current executive director. “When Dick has an idea, he knows how to actualize it.”

Anderson and the Maine Audubon executive director who followed in his footsteps, Sam Zaitlin, were among the 200 people who celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center at a fundraising event July 21 at The Landing.

“I can’t believe it has been 50 years,” Zaitlin said.

Guests enjoyed clam shack-inspired hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction heavy on marsh-related artwork and outdoorsy equipment and experiences.


Auction items included a canoe tour with Linda Woodard, longtime director of the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center.

“There’s all kinds of adventures,” she said, talking about sandpipers, herons, seals, muskrats, river otters and the little fish of the marsh, mummichugs. “You never know what you’ll see.”

Like the marsh itself, the event attracted an eclectic crowd of fish and game enthusiasts, birders and wildlife biologists, photographers and artists, hikers and kayakers. United in support of natural habitats and nature education, they raised $30,000 for Maine Audubon.

“The funds to buy the land largely came from hunters – fishing and hunting licenses and taxes on ammunition and firearms,” said Scott Lindsay, a wildlife biologist with Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, adding that licensed hunting and fishing are allowed.

“We own and manage the land and work on maintaining wildlife populations, and Maine Audubon does outreach and education, operating programs out of the nature center. Thousands of people a week go through the Eastern Trail, and many never pick up a fishing pole. There’s enough space for everyone.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at amyparadysz@gmail.com.

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