Friday, September 30, 2011

York Land Trust Members Host Highland Farm Grand Opening Ceremony

The York Land Trust Annual Members’ Meeting and Highland Farm Grand Opening Ceremony were rescheduled from September’s Hurricane Irene weekend to this Sunday, October 2, 2011, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday’s activities will take place under a tent at the Highland Farm Preserve at 321 Cider Hill Road (Rte. 91) in York. A one-hour Members’ Meeting will begin at 3 p.m. and will be followed at 4 p.m. by a Grand Opening and Trails Dedication Ceremony. The public is welcome.
The program will include remarks by long time York Land Trust Executive Director Doreen MacGillis. In addition to highlighting the scope of the effort, MacGillis will thank key project leaders, supporters and the community of York for unanimously approving a $500,000 bond appropriation that was critical to acquiring the 151-acre property in 2009. With assistance from David Mallard, Stewardship Director, a new information Kiosk will be unveiled near the entrance to the property’s ADA (handicapped-access) trail, a first in this region. To enhance the visitor’s experience, the 24 sq. ft. sign features a large map of the Preserve’s trail system, use guidelines and ecology facts. In addition, as a tribute to four years of hard work, millions of dollars, and thousands of volunteer hours, a comprehensive list of contributors is included on the Kiosk to acknowledge that the Preserve is forever protected and open for public access thanks to the generosity of many individuals, foundations, partner organizations and the Town of York.
At the conclusion of the Grand Opening Ceremony, attendees will enjoy a guided interpretive walk to explore the property’s rich history and biodiversity.
Led by the York Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the Kittery Water District, the Highland Farm Preserve was purchased in 2009 as part of the Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative. Conservation of the property is considered significant for water quality based on its proximity to the York River and Boulter Pond, which serves as a drinking water source for the Town of Kittery and parts of York and Eliot. In addition, through a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 30 acres of the property are being managed as early successional habitat (thickets) to support the return of the state-endangered New England Cottontail (NEC) to the property. With as few as 300 individual NEC rabbits thought to be left in the state, restoration efforts at the Highland Farm Preserve may prove to be critical to the species survival in Maine.
Photo caption: Highland Farm Preserve view overlooking the York River. (Photo by Karen Arsenault)