BTLT In the News: “Conservation project preserves land and a father’s memory”

By John Terhune

After losing her husband Alan to cancer in 2020, Brunswick’s Nikki Eckert sold a portion of his ‘dream property’ to the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust for permanent conservation.

From the time Alan Eckert was a child learning to hunt turkey and deer, Brunswick’s Maquoit Bay was always home.

In 2015, the longtime Portland Glass employee bought a nearly 30-acre slice of his childhood stomping grounds with his wife Nikki, and the pair built a home for themselves and their two boys, Parker and Mason.

Eckert died in 2020, only months after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Yet thanks to his family and the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, Eckert’s memory remains permanently tied to the land he loved.

In January, Nikki Eckert sold 21 acres of the land to Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust to be conserved as the Alan Eckert Preserve.

“My husband would want the land to stay just as it was,” she said, adding that her sons helped choose the preserve’s name. “It’s always been his dream property.”

The Eckert land is one of three properties Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust has conserved in 2022, according to Executive Director Angela Twitchell. The Atwood and Brannigan Families sold the nonprofit a total of 33.5 acres across the river from the Cathance River Nature Preserve in Topsham.

The Alan Eckert Preserve is particularly exciting because it includes nearly 3,000 feet of shoreline abutting a salt marsh at the head of Maquoit Bay, said Twitchell, whose organization purchased the land for $160,000 with support from Maine Coast Heritage Trust and other groups.

“This whole area has been a priority for the Land Trust for years and years,” she said.

Rising sea levels caused by global warming could destroy existing marshes, according to Kristen Puryear, an ecologist for the Maine Natural Areas Program. But the Eckert land’s characteristics make it well-suited for “marsh migration,” meaning new marshes could form farther inland to replace old ones.

“One of the exciting things about this particular property is that there could be 5 or 10 acres of space that eventually could become marsh as sea level rises,” Puryear said. “These tidal marshes do really punch above their weight in terms of what they can do to store, or sequester, carbon for the long term.”

Yet while conservationists imagine the future of the preserve, Nikki Eckert and her boys appreciate it for its enduring link to Alan.

“Knowing that a piece of him will always live on there is almost healing in a way for myself and our two children,” Nikki said. “It’ll always be there.”

To see the full article, click here.

BTLT Conserves Additional Lands on Maquoit Bay & the Cathance River

By Angela Twitchell, BTLT Executive Director

Stream on Atwood Property

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) has been working with partners and landowners in Topsham for more than twenty years to conserve a conservation corridor along the Cathance River.

In January, BTLT conserved two additional parcels: the 10-acre Atwood property and the 23.5-acre Brannigan property. These properties are located across the river from the Cathance River Nature Preserve and conserve important wetland, stream, and wildlife habitat values. With these additions, BTLT has conserved a total of 1,140 acres and 43,000 feet of Cathance River frontage. These combined conservation efforts have protected vital wetlands and wildlife habitat, allowed the creation of miles of well-used public trails, and helped to protect the water quality of the Cathance River and Merrymeeting Bay.

We would like to thank the Atwood and Brannigan families for working with the Land Trust to conserve their land and the Merrymeeting Bay Trust whose funding made the conservation of these properties possible.

Cathance River viewed from Brannigan Property

Also in January, BTLT conserved the Alan Eckert Preserve on Maquoit Bay in Brunswick. This preserve is a 21-acre property with 2,850 feet of shoreline abutting an extensive (more than 50 acre) salt marsh at the head of Maquoit Bay. This preserve is located within the Maquoit and Middle Bay Focus Area of Statewide Ecological Significance and contains frontage along the upper marshes and tidal creeks of Maquoit Bay. The Eckert Preserve is part of a core area of undeveloped land between Maquoit and Rossmore Roads. Conservation of this property will protect the wetlands and buffer areas, allowing the land to continue to provide clean water to the abutting marsh. Moreover, the marsh is expected to migrate onto this property as sea level rises. Conservation allows for accommodation of this future marsh migration. 

BTLT volunteers on a site walk of the Atwood and Brannigan Properties

We would like to thank the Eckert family for their good stewardship of this special property and for working with BTLT to conserve it forever.

Deep appreciation also goes out to Maine Coast Heritage Trust for being our steadfast partner on this project and for making it possible in a multitude of ways, and the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program and Casco Bay Estuary Partnership for providing funding to this project. And, most especially, we want to thank the more than 1,100 members of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust who make all of the work of the Land Trust possible. 


The Eckert property wraps around several fingers of marsh. The marsh is expected to move onto the property via these low lying areas.

A view of the intact marsh system adjacent to the property

A typical view of a steam that drains the 19 acres of forested wetlands on the property into the abutting marsh.