BANGOR, Maine — When the land was first purchased several years ago, the plan was to divide its 750 acres into 1.5-acre house lots; hundreds of them.
Today, the large tract between the Penjajawoc Marsh and the Caribou Bog in Bangor still has highly sought-after, private lots, but more than half of the land has been set aside for conservation.
Two hundred five of those acres, known as the Walden-Parke Preserve, have been under the stewardship of the Bangor Land Trust for about three years. Land trust members have studied the preserve to come up with the best use of the land that balances recreational opportunities with wildlife sensitivity.
On Thursday, at the trailhead for the Walden-Parke Preserve, Bangor Land Trust president Lucy Quimby announced their conservation plan.
All the trails that exist on the former Veazie Railroad bed will be multiuse — open to bikers, hikers, cross-country skiers and others. One trail, marked by blue ribbons, will be open to dog owners, provided they keep pets on leashes. Some lesser-used trails that had been used by mountain bikers will be closed to protect wildlife habitats.
Quimby explained that the plan allows the Walden-Parke Preserve to remain much more wild and rustic than, say, the City Forest.
“I think it’s wonderful to the people here that we have such a rustic woods experience right here, 10 minutes from downtown Bangor,” she said.
Chris Dalton, a small-business owner and land trust member, said it would be easy for him to drive two hours to Baxter State Park, but sometimes he has only a couple hours.
With all the talk recently of asset-based development, Quimby said open spaces contribute greatly to Bangor’s quality of place.
Fritz and Caroline Oldenburg and Dennis and Jane Shubert own the land, which surrounds an 82-lot high-end residential subdivision, also called Walden Parke, that the owners are developing in two phases. In addition to the 205 acres already donated, the couples plan to donate another 205 acres down the road once the second phase of the subdivision has commenced.
Quimby admitted that every once in a while she hears complaints from pro-development folks about big pieces of land being tied up by conservation. She said this land does both because it preserves some land while developing the rest.
For information about the Walden-Parke Preserve, contact the land trust at 942-1010 or e-mail email@example.com.