Amidst the ongoing health concerns, one thing has remained clear, protecting outdoor places significant to people, plants, and wildlife is just as important and more appreciated than ever. As part of the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust’s (KELT) ongoing efforts to conserve special natural areas and provide outdoor opportunities to the community, they recently completed their first land protection project in Richmond.
Barbara and Peter Vickery first began discussing protection of their property in 2002. Barbara served for decades as the Director of Conservation Programs at The Nature Conservancy in Maine and was awarded the Maine Coastal Heritage Trust’s 2017 Espy Land Heritage Award for her contributions to conservation in Maine. Peter was an accomplished ornithologist, researcher, mentor and writer. Following Peter’s passing in 2017, Barbara, with the support of her two sons, continued to pursue this conservation effort with KELT. These efforts have now brought it to fruition. At the beginning of June, she conserved a portion of her upland property with a conservation easement and donated to KELT half a mile of river front and shoreland nestled between the old rail line and the Kennebec River.
“My family has been walking to our Kennebec shorefront at all seasons for 40 years,” said Barbara, “We’ve enjoyed watching Bald Eagles, and sturgeon, finding regular sign of otter on the shore, marveling at the ice floes in winter, the river flooding in spring, and the Cardinal Flower and gentians in summer. We’re glad to think others will be enjoying these things here for many years to come.”
The two conserved properties together protect a total of 27 acres, including upland forest habitat with a mix of red oaks, white pines, white ash, red maples, American beech, and maple-leaf viburnum. Within the upland forest lie forested wetlands that support four species of ferns and a rich canopy of yellow birch, red maple, and green ash trees. A stream runs through the upland forest, providing a home for salamanders and other amphibians.
The 10-acre forest preserve with its scenic leafy shoreline along the Kennebec River has seen little activity since the height of ice harvesting in 1880s and 1890s. Relics of the land’s past use include the foundations of an icehouse and iron rings drilled into the rock once used by ice harvesters to tie up boats and barges.
These properties provide habitat for a range of wildlife, including Bald Eagles, otters, woodland songbirds, waterfowl, white-tailed deer, and porcupines. Portions of the shoreline are freshwater tidal marsh and at low tide, Cardinal flower, Joe Pye Weed, and less conspicuous rare estuarine plants are on display, highlighting this area’s connection to the rest of the waters within the Kennebec Estuary. The waters today are used by recreational boaters and fishermen and showcase unspoiled views of the wooded shoreline. A lucky kayaker may see a belted kingfisher or a Bald Eagle looking for its next meal and be surprised by the splash of a leaping sturgeon.
The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust is a membership supported organization dedicated to protecting the land, water and wildlife of the Kennebec Estuary. It maintains twelve preserves for public enjoyment and has protected 3,900+ acres of land since founding in 1989. To view KELT’s 2019 Annual Report, visit www.kennebecestuary.org/2019-annual-report
FMI visit www.kennebecestuary.org or call (207) 442-8400.