The map shows the sites of the three conservation projects. Contributed / PRLT

The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust is working on three projects to protect over 100 acres of land near downtown Westbrook and Gorham village, areas where less than 5% of the land is currently conserved.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to have three conservation access projects in a year that will benefit thousands of people in downtown Gorham and Westbrook and the surrounding area,” said Rachelle Curran Apse, executive director of the land trust. 

The Rivermeadow Nature Conservation Project site along the Presumpscot River in Westbrook. Contributed / PRLT

In Westbrook, the Rivermeadow Nature Conservation Project will protect the largest natural landscape remaining within a mile of downtown. The 44-acre site along the Presumpscot River, adjacent to the Lincoln Street boat launch and four-season rink, includes 30 acres of forested wetland. The land was previously owned by the former Rivermeadow Golf Course.

The Deer Woods Conservation Project along Day Road in Gorham has been deer wintering land for decades, and the Trout Run Conservation Project off Route 35, past the roundabout and before Abbot Farm Road, encompasses a wild trout habitat and one of the largest undeveloped forests near downtown Gorham Village, Apse said.

The three projects will cost nearly $2 million to conserve. The land trust has secured 95% of the funding and will fundraise for the rest. It plans to begin work on trails at each of the sites next spring and have them ready for use next summer, according to Apse.

The three areas provide habitats for a diversity of declining species of reptiles, amphibians, pollinators and migrating birds, she said, such as the eastern wood pewee, tree swallow, wood thrush, spotted turtle, wood turtle, spring salamander and northern leopard frog.


“The first piece is just ensuring habitat for these species, and we are working with schools and summer programming for youth to get out and learn about the landscape and wildlife, so there will be multiple opportunities for study and learning for youth of all ages on these lands,” Apse said.

The land trust expects the Rivermeadow Nature Preserve to be especially popular because it is so close to downtown Westbrook. A 1.5-mile trail loop is planned for this site.

The Deer Woods Conservation Project along Day Road in Gorham. Contributed / PRLT

“We’re investing in a trail system that will be a wide gravel surface that makes it accessible to most people and welcoming and friendly, because we expect it will be a high-use destination,” Apse said. She said the trail will be similar to Portland’s Back Cove Trail in material, accessibility and flat terrain.

The two Gorham parcels were offered up by the landowners.

Kathleen Ashley donated the 30 acres for the Deer Woods project.

“For over 40 years, this land has been an unfailing source of pleasure to us and our neighbors,” Ashley said in a press release. “I would now like to gift this land to the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust to help preserve the natural resources and wildlife habitat in Gorham, providing a means of sharing our enjoyment with a wider public.”


Bill Moreno, chairperson of the Gorham Conservation Commission, said the town is “pretty lucky” to have as much open space as it has.

The Trout Run Conservation Project along the Little River in Gorham. Contributed / PRLT

We do a great job with the biking community and getting families out there. These projects will help with the dog walkers, hikers and bird watchers,” he said. “We see this as improving access for trail users of all strengths.”

While the town continues to develop, Moreno said it’s important to continue supporting the surrounding ecosystems.

“Even as the town continues to grow and build new housing, we’re still setting aside space that allows wildlife to get through,” he said.

Julie Abbott’s 30-acre site for the Trout Run project includes 3,500 feet of the Little River shoreline. In a press release, she said she wanted to give the community “the opportunity to enjoy nature just like I did in my childhood.”

Apse said access is one of the most important aspects of the three projects – providing people a place within walking or bus distance from downtown where they can immerse themselves in nature, experience the habitats of Maine and understand why it’s important to conserve.

Comments are not available on this story.