The Wrack

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Keystone Property Protected along Merriland River in Wells

Posted by | January 27, 2012 | Filed under: News

WELLS, Maine, January 26, 2012 — A 105-acre property that connects 540 acres of existing conservation land has been permanently protected by the Town of Wells in partnership with the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm.

The Tilton parcel, as it is known, contains 5,250 feet of frontage along the Merriland River, ecologically significant wetlands, and forested uplands. It protects habitat for a variety of wildlife, scenic views, and historic stone walls, and will provide for recreational and educational opportunities for the public.

The 105-acre Tilton parcel serves as a conservation bridge between two already conserved tracts of land: 410 acres of town-owned land called the Great Haith, and a 130-acre conservation easement held by the Great Works Regional Land Trust. With the protection of the Tilton Parcel, a 645-acre conservation node has been created in the center of this community.

Keith Fletcher, a member of the Wells Conservation Commission who was the Tilton Project Leader, says that "We are very lucky that the most important parcel in the Great Haith area was owned by a family with deep Wells roots. They love the land and wanted to see it conserved. They waited patiently for many years for the funding to fall into place for this purchase. I am very grateful to the Tilton family, and I am sure future generations of Wells residents will also be grateful that this land was placed into conservation."

The property was purchased from the Tilton Family, who had owned and managed the land for many years. The property includes extensive road frontage on both sides of Route 109, and along the Bragdon Road. Five acres around an existing house were excluded from the purchase.

The conservation purchase was funded by the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program, and the residents of Wells, who each year vote to place town funds in a “Land Bank” for conservation acquisitions.

“Once again the people of Wells have voted to invest in their future: clean trout streams, pure well water, healthy beaches downstream, beautiful woods, and water for recreation,” says Owen Grumbling, chair of the Wells Conservation Commission. “Investing in the Land Bank fund year by year allowed us to acquire this beautiful parcel without incurring debt.”

The Merriland River is the major freshwater source for one of the three estuaries encompassed by the Wells Reserve and Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. The river originates in sandy outwash plains in western region of the Town of Wells, meandering for six miles before meeting Branch Brook to form the Little River, the largely pristine estuary of the Reserve and the Refuge.

The Merriland River and its associated uplands are a high priority for conservation for the Town of Wells Conservation Commission and Wells Reserve.

“Protection of land along the rivers that flow into our estuaries and those properties that contribute to landscape-scale conservation in coastal York County communities are priorities for us,” says Paul Dest, director of the Wells Reserve. “The Tilton Parcel helps accomplish both of these objectives.”

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