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(Rockport)–As 2014 wound to a close, three Maine land trusts conducted two land transfers to create one bigger and better preserve. First, the Nature Conservancy in Maine (TNC) transferred its Simonton Corner Quarry Preserve to Coastal Mountains Land Trust. Subsequently, Maine Farmland Trust transferred an adjoining property to the Land Trust. Known locally as the Maple Grove, this six acres has been added to the original preserve.
Conservation of the Simonton Corner Quarry Preserve was initially proposed in the late 1960s by A.H. Chatfield, Jr. of the Chatfield family that conserved Rockport’s Aldermere Farm. It became a TNC preserve in 1972. The 19.5-acre property comprises most of three quarries, including Eells Quarry which is 180 feet deep at its deepest point. Spanning either side of North Main Street, it features frontage on the Goose River. The historic quarries once played a key role in Rockport’s lime-quarrying past, with a train running from the open pits to the kilns on Rockport Harbor. This industrial history is still visible, if softened by the growth of surrounding forest in the many decades since.
As the local land trust, Coastal Mountains Land Trust has been overseeing the preserve’s stewardship for many years, so the ownership transfer won’t change its general management.
“Coastal Mountains Land Trust has done a great job of helping us steward Simonton Corner Quarry over the past 15 years,” affirmed Nancy Sferra, Director of Stewardship and Ecological Management for TNC. “We’re pleased to transfer ownership of the preserve to be used for the Land Trust’s ongoing conservation programs.”
The Maple Grove addition, which was part of a larger farm property recently purchased by Maine Farmland Trust, contains a portion of the back quarry and will thus enable the Land Trust to improve public access to the area.
“Transfer of this property to Coastal Mountains Land Trust is one important piece of a plan to preserve agricultural land and open space associated with the conservation of the former Spear Farm in Camden and Rockport,” said Adam Bishop, Project Manager for Maine Farmland Trust. “The Land Trust just made sense as the logical owner for this part of the property. Their ownership will allow for the preservation of an important historical resource, the quarries, while at the same time enabling continued management of the property’s sugar bush.”
The Nature Conservancy conserves land world-wide, and has protected over a million acres in Maine, including more than 75 preserves. For more information, please visit www.nature.org.
Maine Farmland Trust, a state-wide organization based in Belfast, works to protect farmland, and to keep farming in Maine viable and vital. For more information, please visit www.mainefarmlandtrust.org or call (207) 338-6575.
Coastal Mountains Land Trust has worked to permanently preserve land to benefit the natural and human communities of the western Penobscot Bay region, conserving more than 9,700 acres since 1986. With the addition of the Simonton Corner Quarry Preserve, the Land Trust now has 26 preserves, all open to the public for low-impact recreation. For more information, please visit the Land Trust website at www.coastalmountains.org or call (207) 236-7091