May 27, 2018
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98-acre tract of undeveloped coastline in Biddeford added to wildlife refuge

By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff

BIDDEFORD, Maine — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has acquired a rare, undeveloped tract of coastal property in Southern Maine after a coalition of organizations managed to raise more than $5 million to purchase the land for the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.

Known as Timber Point, the 98-acre parcel is located in Biddeford and is believed to be one of the last undeveloped tracts still owned by a single family along the house-studded coastline between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth. The property also includes a small island.

Migratory shorebirds use Timber Point’s 2.5 miles of coastline to rest and feed while numerous other bird species nest on the marshland and forested areas.

The land was purchased from the Ewing family, which will retain 13 acres as well as a farmhouse on the property. Roughly $2 million came from private donors while $3 million was secured by Maine’s congressional delegation through the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is funded with revenues generated from off-shore oil and gas leases.

The property will be added to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge’s Little River division, which is named for the waterway that flows by the tract before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.

“Timber Point is such a wonderful tract,” Ward Feurt, manager of the wildlife refuge, said in a statement announcing the acquisition. “The Ewing’s excellent stewardship means the rocky shore, fringing salt marshes, white pine stands, mixed deciduous forest, cattail marshes and shrubby wetlands still provide the coastal habitat that are lost in so many places in southern Maine.”

The refuge’s website said a small portion of trail on the property is open from sunrise to sunset. Staff members also plan to build an interpretive trail on the island this summer and are working on plans for a place to launch canoes and kayaks from the main property.

The organizations involved in the fundraising and acquisition were: The Trust for Public Land, Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, Friends of Rachel Carson NWR and Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

The Ewing family has owned the property for more than 80 years but a press release announcing the project said the family approached the conservation community when unspecified circumstances forced them to sell.

“Adding Timber Point to Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is a dream come true, for the refuge, coastal conservation, and people who want to connect with this incredible landscape,” Wolfe Tone, Maine state director for The Trust for Public Land, said in a statement. “Timber Point is classically Maine, with rocky oceanfront, a sheltered, sandy cove, and diverse habitat.”

Operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge consists of 11 separate divisions along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties.

The refuge is named for the late Rachel Carson, a U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service marine biologist who studied and wrote about the Maine coast. She is best known as the author of “Silent Spring,” the 1962 book credited with raising public awareness about the harmful biological effects of DDT and other chemicals, and with inspiring the modern environmental movement.

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