Maine is losing 10,000 acres of natural habitat every year and while Gorham still has plenty of natural areas, “it’s a great time to start planning” to keep them that way, a state wildlife biologist said Tuesday.

In a presentation at a council workshop on land use codes and future comprehensive plans, Steve Walker of Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife urged councilors to consider wildlife and plant protection.

Steve Walker of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife speaks at a Gorham Town Council workshop Tuesday. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Wildlife and plant species are impacted with the increased demand for housing in addition to climate change, Walker said.

White-tailed deer are doing great in the area and streams in the northern part of town have Eastern Brook Trout, he said.

“Maine is the last stronghold for Eastern Brook Trout,” he said.

The cottontail rabbit is not doing so well, however. Once prevalent in Gorham, they are close to being gone because of habitat loss, he said.


Gorham will take a new look at updating its current comprehensive plan passed in 2016 and Town Councilor Suzanne Phillips wants the board to develop an open space plan. Phillips is expected to sponsor a proposal at the board’s February meeting.

“It’s a logical follow-up to the comprehensive plan,” Walker said.

Walker said he believes Gorham residents want larger undeveloped areas for hunting, trapping and fishing. Outdoor recreation and protection of natural resources can co-exist, he said. He advocated for cluster housing subdivisions with open space preserved.

A public outcry to protect wildlife and natural resources in Gorham surfaced in November when the town rezoned part of the 3,600 acre Narragansett Game Sanctuary where hunting is prohibited. The rezoning allows for increased housing density.

The zoning change complied with the existing Comprehensive Plan, but a petition drive gathered 160 signatures in opposition to it.

Several residents of Day Road, which slices through the sanctuary, attended Tuesday’s meeting but there was no public comment segment.

Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will make maps, documents and guidance available to assist the town in identifying and protecting wildlife and other resources, he said.

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