46 acres to be added to Scarborough Marsh preserve

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SCARBOROUGH — A 46-acre piece of land near the Dunstan River will be added to the 3,200-acre Scarborough Marsh Wildlife Management Area.

The Manson Libby Road property was purchased Wednesday from the Gervais Family of Scarborough, who has owned and maintained the land as a working farm since the 1950s.

The acquisition, originally spearheaded by the Friends of Scarborough Marsh, will preserve what state wildlife officials consider critical upland habitat surrounding Maine’s largest marsh. It will also provide recreational opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife observation and bird watching. 

“It’s been a long journey bringing this project to fruition,” C.D. Armstrong, a Friend of Scarborough Marsh trustee, said in a press release. 

Funding for the $795,000 purchase came from a variety of sources, including a $250,000 Parks and Recreation Land bond from the town of Scarborough and a $160,000 bond through the Land for Maine’s Future program.

Also, more than $326,000 in settlement funds from the 1996 Julie N oil spill, which impacted marsh habitats on the Fore River, were also used. The remaining funds came from Scarborough Land Conservation Trust, the Friends of Scarborough Marsh, the Davis Conservation Foundation and Ducks Unlimited.

No funds from the state Department of Inland, Fisheries and Wildlife were used. 

“The Julie N oil spill was an unnecessary tragedy that impacted wildlife and their habitat,” IL&F Commissioner Roland Martin said. “From that event, however, comes an opportunity to conserve land for the fish and wildlife that live in Scarborough Marsh and the people who visit.” 

The property will be managed by the IF&W as open space and habitat for wildlife, including New England cottontail rabbits, whitetail deer, red fox, waterfowl, shorebirds, birds of prey and grassland birds like Savannah sparrows, Eastern meadowlarks and bobolinks. 

The acquisition is also expected to provide additional opportunities for the Maine Audubon Society, which operates the Nature Center on the marsh that draws more than 10,000 a year.

A public celebration of the acquisition is being planned for late summer or early fall. The IF&W also asked that the public refrain from using the property while the Gervais family relocates.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net

s-scarmarsh2.JPGScarborough Town Manager Tom Hall, left, Rich Shinay of the Scarborough Land Conservation Trust, IF&W Regional Wildlife Biologist Scott Lindsay, Denis Gervais, C.D. Armstrong of Friends of Scarborough Marsh, and Richard Dressler, IF&W’s representative to the Julie N Natural Resources trustees. (Courtesy IF&W)

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s-scarmarsh1.JPGA view of the 46-acre parcel to be added to the Scarborough Wildlife Management Area. (Courtesy IF&W)