What better combination than a farm and the ocean? It’s like my Midwestern roots coming together with my current life in Maine. As I have written about before, for all the miles of coastline in Midcoast Maine, few of these miles are publicly accessible. So, when there is an opportunity to conserve an existing property along the coast, it is a big deal.

The particular property I’m referring to is Woodward Point, which is near Thomas Point Beach out past Cook’s Corner. You may have heard of Woodward Cove, a nearby property that was acquired by the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust. It is an 18-acre property that provides similar waterfront access for wormers and clammers in upper Woodward Cove.

The Woodward Point property is more than 80 acres and has over two miles of shoreline on the New Meadows River, between its two peninsulas. It has a unique combination of open meadowland, forest, a freshwater pond, and multiple water access points.

The current owners are eager to see it protected. They came upon the property while kayaking in the 1970s and asked the owner if they could buy a few acres of it. Instead, he offered them the whole parcel. Since then, they have been harvesting hay and raising cattle on the farm. They will keep a few acres for themselves, with a small homestead and campground, but are offering the rest of the property up for conservation.

A unique property that is valuable to the town and owners that want to see it protected – sounds like a no brainer, right? But, conserving a property is anything but simple. The current owners have offered the property for less than the appraised value and granted a two-year option to purchase to allow time to raise the necessary funds. Even with this generous offer, waterfront property isn’t cheap. As often is the case, it takes multiple partnerships to see a project like this one succeed.

To tackle this big purchase, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Brunswick Topsham Land Trust have been working together to raise $3.5 million to protect the land and fund its management for public use. To take advantage of the owner’s offer, they must meet this goal by spring 2019.

You might wonder why a property like this one is so valuable. The Woodward Point property is a complex one, comprised of multiple habitats, which makes it particularly unique. That means that it can provide homes for many different types of wildlife. Take just birds, for example. The large blocks of forest filled with a mixture of evergreens and hardwoods provide homes for many songbirds. Then, you might find swallows swooping down for insects in the small fresh-water pond.

Travel closer to the water where salt-marsh sparrows flit about in the salt hay. Down along the shore, wading shorebirds poke long beaks into the mud to pull out tasty treats and make their nests along the shore. And, out on the water, sea ducks, cormorants and gulls bob up and down on the waves.

Then, there are the plants – the rich mixture of trees, rare Mountain Honeysuckle, salt grasses that help to filter water from land as it passes into the river, and eelgrass that provides sheltered habitat and important nutrients for intertidal animals.

Finally, consider the resources under the water, from mussels you can see along the rocks at the water’s edge to clams and bloodworms that hide under the mud. This truly is a rare combination of field and shore and is wonderful for birdwatchers and kayakers who might visit the property.

But, conserving for conservation’s sake is a thing of the past. One of the goals of MCHT and BTLT is to protect coastal resources not just for recreation, but for sustainable harvest, as well. Woodward Point is home to two of the most productive clam-flats in Brunswick – the “bullpen” and “little bullpen.” In fact, Brunswick’s Comprehensive Plan describes this area as “Brunswick’s most significant source of seed clams, eel grass and mussel bars.”

Places where clammers and wormers can get to mud flats are rare and this is an important opportunity to provide several additional access points. In addition, aquaculture in the New Meadows has great potential to grow.

As Dan Devereaux, Brunswick’s Marine Resource Officer put it, “The New Meadows River has been identified as a growing aquaculture area and is a tremendous natural resource. Conserving Woodward Point is important for water quality, the health of the estuary, and for the local economy.”

Given all of the positive momentum and obvious value, it will still take a lot of hard work to raise the money necessary to protect this property. Over the next two years, MCHT and BTLT will be educating the public about the importance of this investment in the hopes that people will generously support their fund-raising efforts.

As MCHT Project Manager Keith Fletcher says, “Woodward Point is the last, best chance to conserve a property with this much shore frontage in the Town of Brunswick.”

For all of the ecological and economic resources it offers, this would be a wonderful addiion to the public shoreline of Midcoast Maine.