This morning, we closed on the Hideaway Farm property on the Cathance River in Topsham. This property is especially significant because it abuts the previously conserved Robert Williams Preserve and will add an additional 1,000 feet of shore frontage and 18 acres to this connected, conserved landscape. Protecting the undeveloped shoreline of the Cathance River has been a major focus for us for three decades. In that time, we have conserved more than 1,100 acres and 43,000 feet of river frontage.
When Hideaway Farm landowner, John Sczymecki, was ready to sell this special parcel, his desire was for it to remain undeveloped. We are grateful to Mr. Sczymecki for working with us to ensure that the property will be conserved to protect its special habitat and outdoor recreational values forever.
To make this conservation effort possible, $138,000 needed to be raised by June 30 to acquire and manage the property. The community responded enthusiastically, and the goal was met just before the closing deadline. Special thanks go out to the Town of Topsham, Merrymeeting Bay Trust, Davis Conservation Fund, John Sage Foundation, and 70 individual donors whose generous support made the conservation of Hideaway Farm possible.
The Topsham Conservation Commission (TCC) was an important partner in this project. The Land Trust and the Commission work together to conserve lands in Topsham that are identified as priorities in the Town’s Comprehensive and Natural Areas Plans. The TCC worked with Pam Leduc, Topsham’s Director of Parks and Recreation, to facilitate a donation to the project from the Town of Topsham. The Land Trust is incredibly grateful to Town staff and the Select Board for their support.
“The Town of Topsham has a long history of working with BTLT to conserve natural resources and recreational opportunities along the Cathance River. We were very happy to be able to help make the conservation of the Hideaway Farm property possible by contributing funds from our Open Space In lieu fund. These monies were generated from impacts on open space due to development and are set aside to be used for conservation and recreation purposes. We see the Hideaway Farm project as a great example of leveraging these dollars to conserve important habitat and create an opportunity for additional recreational trails and public access to the Cathance River,” said Leduc.
The rivers that flow through Brunswick and Topsham into Merrymeeting Bay (including the Cathance River) are among BTLT’s highest priority conservation areas, in large part because Merrymeeting Bay has such tremendous ecological, economic, historic, and recreational value to our region.
This parcel will significantly enhance existing conservation efforts in this important focus area, increasing the forested buffer and associated water quality protection for the Cathance River. The addition of this property to the matrix of conserved lands along the river will create new connections between conserved lands and increase the value of conserved habitat. The location of this property — across from BTLT’s Tarbox Preserve and abutting the Robert Williams Preserve – is particularly important as we strives to conserve the largely undeveloped river corridor in this area.