One hundred years from now, it should be interesting to see what becomes of the land at the end of Gardner Road in Orono.
Landowners Ron and Lee Davis recently gave the Orono Land Trust a 37-acre conservation easement near the border of Orono and Veazie, a plot of land that, for the most part, will remain wild.
The easement is the fourth-largest of eight that the land trust has received since it started in 1986.
One of the stipulations is that the bulk of the land be treated as forever wild, which means it may not be managed with the exception of the removal of invasive species.
It’s out of the ordinary for the land trust to accept land with that requirement, said Orono Land Trust board president David Clement. But the group, which has conservation lands in Orono and Veazie, is eager to see what becomes of the Davises’ land after decades of just letting it go.
“[The land trust usually doesn’t] like to accept land that is forever wild because it really limits what you can do with the land,” Clement said. “For instance, if it becomes ugly, so to speak, you can’t go in there and clean it up. If it all gets infested and dies off, that’s what happens. … We think that having a forever-wild forest will be a great comparison to a managed forest. One hundred years from now, we’ll see what the differences are.”
The interest in what those differences will be was what led Ron Davis, a retired University of Maine biologist, to stipulate that the land be left alone.
“Such [natural ecosystems] are very rare and may become increasingly rare, and for comparative reasons, both at a research level and an education level, such systems are extremely important and interesting,” said Davis, who is a member of the Orono Land Trust. “So for example, one really can’t gauge where we are ecologically unless one has some basis for comparison with the natural condition.”
There are a few exceptions to the forever-wild stipulation.
One exception is for a 3-acre field, which contains a growth of rare Orono sedge, Carex oronensis, a grasslike plant found only in central Maine and the Penobscot River valley. Because the sedge grows best in a mowed field, the land trust will mow the field once a year as one of the stipulations of the easement.
“It’s an unusual, very local plant that this field is full of, and we hope to keep it that way,” Clement said.
Small shelters will be allowed for research, Davis said, and any fire that might occur on the property will be controlled because of the proximity of other property owners. Horses will be prohibited because the animals’ droppings could contain invasive species from hay or seeds originating in other areas.
Also, the land trust will be permitted to maintain a few walking trails on the property, which is located east of Interstate 95. That area has some trails, but none that provides a continuous link from Bangor and Veazie to Orono.
“We were hoping as the land trust gets more active, there will be a foot trail and biking trail system that will connect Orono, Veazie and Bangor,” Clement said. “We think this easement the Davises have given us will provide a key link in the passage of those trails.”
Most of the trees in the forested area are a mix of hardwood and softwood with some big pines and oaks, Clement said. There are poplars and other smaller trees near the field.