Land preservation benefits development and health

Deep in the Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve, a bridge spans a stream that drains a nearby marsh. The preserve is owned by the Bangor Land Trust.
Deep in the Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve, a bridge spans a stream that drains a nearby marsh. The preserve is owned by the Bangor Land Trust.
Posted Aug. 01, 2012, at 11:03 a.m.

When the Bangor Land Trust took shape in 2001, “not much wild land” had been preserved in Bangor, recalled BLT Board President Lucy Quimby. Municipal properties like Bangor City Forest, the Essex Street Recreation Area, and Prentiss Woods preserved some woods and wetlands.

Backers like Quimby established the BLT because “Bangor has some really wonderful natural resources” that “could be protected” by acquisition or easement, she said.

These lands lay primarily within the triangle formed by Essex Street and Stillwater Avenue, a region bisected by the Penjajawoc Stream and its adjacent wetlands. The region lies south of Pushaw Lake and abuts the Orono Bog.

“Our goal is to protect really significant natural areas. That’s a value that’s really important to the community,” Quimby said.

According to Quimby, conservation efforts and commercial and residential development can “enhance each other.” She explained that “open space” can lure businesses to the Bangor region while providing places for people to exercise.

“Open spaces lead to healthy people,” she said.

Since 2001 the Bangor Land Trust has acquired approximately 700 acres “on the East Side, close to the Penjajawoc [Stream],” Quimby said. Among the trust-owned properties are the 80-acre Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve (accessible from the Kittredge Road) and the adjacent 410-acre Walden-Parke Preserve (accessible from Walden Parke Way via Outer Essex Street). Other properties include the West Penjajawoc Grasslands, the Central Penjajawoc Preserve, and the 105-acre North Penjajawoc Forest, acquired in November 2011. The last site abuts the Bangor City Forest and the Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve.

The Bangor Land Trust develops trails on its land so that people can access nature, Quimby indicated. Sited and constructed to appropriate trail-development standards, all trails are open to non-motorized use; some trails are particularly popular with mountain bikers.

“We are connecting people with the land in a way that is not destructive to the land,” Quimby said.

Land acquisition and trail development cost money; the Bangor Land Trust holds such events as Pedal the Penobscot (see page 1) to raise funds to offset these costs. “Our greatest expenditures in the last couple of years is getting water off the trails,” Quimby said. Trail maintenance must be done annually, especially after a Maine winter knocks down trees.

The BLT, which has “a strong collaboration with the Orono Land Trust,” supports the Caribou Bog-Penjajawoc Project, a regional effort to establish “a contiguous wildlife corridor” through Bangor, Old Town, and Orono, and other local municipalities, Quimby said.

This “corridor” will protect “wild lands” that abut commercial and residential development along Stillwater Avenue in Bangor, she said. The Penjajawoc Stream flows past the Bangor Mall and beneath Hogan Road before reaching the Penobscot River; busy motorists and shoppers cross the stream’s bridges unaware that just a short distance away, wildlife abounds in the forests and wetlands adjacent to the stream.

According to Quimby, the BLT “has partnered with the City of Bangor” on the Bangor Trails Project; the goal is “making Bangor more bicycle friendly,” she said. When a contractor or city crew repaves or rebuilds a Bangor street, a bicycle lane is added if the street has sufficient width, she explained.

“We’ve been meeting with them on a regular basis,” Quimby said.

For more information about the Bangor Land Trust, log onto www.bangorlandtrust.org.

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