Midcoast Conservancy adds to Cunningham Preserve, Newcastle

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 3:00pm

Midcoast Conservancy has bought a high priority 12-acre addition to its F. Cunningham Preserve in Newcastle from Hugh Sherman. Said Sherman, “This land has been in my family for over 100 years and I played on it as a child. I’m delighted that it will remain undeveloped and be open to the public.”

The preserve now totals 26 acres and creates a link between two other properties under conservation easement and in private ownership.

Anna Fiedler is Midcoast Conservancy’s director of land conservation. “This parcel contains seven acres of forest and five acres of salt marsh wetlands which provide critical flood control and store carbon,” Fiedler said. “It also provides habitat for wading birds, including waterbird and waterfowl breeding, migration, and wintering habitat, as well as habitat for the threatened saltmarsh sparrow. We are delighted to be protecting this gem.”

Partnership with Maine Coast Heritage Trust made the project possible. Said Midcoast Land Protection Project Manager Steve Walker, “This parcel also lies in one of our ‘whole places’ designated based on ecological integrity and a statewide Beginning with Habitat Focus Area of Statewide Ecological Significance.  Having this special place cared for locally by Midcoast Conservancy, to my mind, is the best possible conservation outcome.” 

Christian Schorn is Midcoast Conservancy Senior Land Steward. Schorn said, “Fishing and hiking will be welcomed at the preserve, and we will be exploring options for hand carry boat access. We want to work with the community to find ways for people to enjoy F. Cunningham Preserve and still maintain its incredible value for wildlife.”

Neighbors are thrilled about the land being protected from development and open to the public. Said Ingrid Bathe, “We were all so relieved and excited to hear that Midcoast Conservancy is our new neighbor! My 7 and 10 year old children play on the little island in the middle of the salt marsh, and we are so grateful that will continue to be available to them, and others.”

The original F. Cunningham Preserve was a generous gift from Francis Cunningham in 2002. The addition was made possible by generous funding from Maine Coast Heritage Trust and private donors.