Bangor’s newest wildlife watching destination, Central Penjajawoc Preserve, officially opened to the public on Aug. 13, with a celebration and group hike of the preserve’s 1.5-mile loop trail, led by members of the Bangor Land Trust.
“It’s very narrow and rocky and rooty, so you really feel like you’re off in the middle of nowhere on this trail,” trust President Lucy Quimby said during the ceremony.
From the preserve parking area — located off Essex Street about 400 yards south of the Essex Street-Burleigh Road intersection — the trail travels away from the busy street and downhill to the edge of Penjajawoc Marsh. City sounds fade as visitors travel deeper into the forest on the narrow trail.
The trust purchased the land, which makes up two parcels, using grants awarded by the Land for Maine’s Future and North American Wetlands Conservation Act programs in 2010. Mapping of the trail began in spring 2011, and trail work began the same summer.
“It had no trail on it, so we went through a long process of planning where would be the best trails so you could access it but would not disturb the wildlife,” she said. “This is very important wildlife habitat.”
The trail is for pedestrians only. It has not been prepared for mountain bike use. Skis and snowshoes, however, are permitted.
“There are lots of porcupine here that we’ve seen pretty frequently,” Quimby said. “And we’ve seen tracks or scat for deer, moose, hare and other animals.”
In an effort to minimize effects on wildlife, the trust decided to make the trail off limits to domestic animals. If on leashes, however, dogs are permitted on all other trust trails.
“As a land trust, we had years of discussion about this,” said Quimby. “There’s a lot of research that indicates that dogs disturb wildlife. For example, if you have ground-nesting birds like thrushes, and dogs are running around in the spring, one large paw does in a nest for that year.”
“One of our reasons for conserving land is protecting wildlife habitat,” she continued. “And another reason is to put in trails so people can see the wildlife and enjoy the space. Having no dogs makes it more likely that people will see the wildlife.”