The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust has conserved 700 acres in Windham, including the highest point in town. The land connects to 1,300 acres of protected forestland. Contributed / Presumpscot Regional Land Trust

The largest protected forested area in Southern Maine became official last week with the conservation of 700 acres in Windham.

The new East Windham Conservation Area off Falmouth Road will open to the public in December with five miles of trails, access to Little Duck Pond and views of the western mountains. It connects to a 1,300-acre protected area in Falmouth, resulting in 2,000-acre parcel that is undeveloped and protected from future development.

“Having a 2,000-acre block that’s forested allows for a lot of diversity of species” that could not otherwise thrive, said Rachelle Curran Apse, executive director of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, which partnered with the town of Windham and local landowners on the East Windham Conservation Area.

Visitors to the East Windham Conservation Area will have access to Little Duck Pond. Contributed / Rachelle Curran Apse

The area will provide a wintering space for deer and will support coyotes, bears, moose and bobcats in addition to many plant species and evergreens, she said.

The Windham project was complex because it incorporates 14 parcels of land, Apse said.

“For several years, we’ve been in conversations with land owners,” she said. “We’re really excited to see this project come to fruition and be conserved just last week.”


The area was selected for conservation in part because “it’s the highest elevation area in Windham, so it’s the headwaters for the Presumpscot,” she said. “It drains into McIntosh Brook, which drains into Highland Lake, then to the Mill Brook and then into the Presumpscot and Casco Bay.”

The protection of headwaters is important for the water quality and ecosystems of everything downstream, she said.

The conserved land, next to the existing Lowell Preserve, includes Atherton Hill, which at nearly 600 feet, is the highest hill in Windham; 2,000 feet of frontage along Little Duck Pond and 1,500 feet of stream frontage that provides wild brook trout habitat.

The new conservation area will open in three phases.

The first phase includes a trailhead parking area of Falmouth Road just west of the Lowell Preseve trailhead, signage and about five miles of trails, which will all be in place before the Dec. 2 grand opening event.

In the second phase, five more miles of trail will be built, including one mile of universal access trail that will lead to a scenic overlook. On that portion, tree roots will be removed and the trail will be made wide and flat enough to be accessible to most people of all abilities.


An observation tower will be constructed in the third phase.

The timing of Phases 2 and 3 depend on funding, Apse said. 

The project has received an “outpouring of support” so far, with donations from over 400 families in addition to municipal, state and federal funding.

The town received about 900 responses to a survey about the East Windham Conservation Area, said  Linda Brooks, director of Windham Parks and Recreation. Based on the responses, the town hopes the area will offer something for everyone, from mountain biking to cross country skiing to bird watching and fishing, she said. Local and regional schools are also interested in using the land for educational programming.

The town expects to reap some economic benefits as large recreational area draws people to Windham, Brooks said.

To learn more or register for the grand opening event, visit

Comments are not available on this story.