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Freeport trust buys access, easement for 2 properties

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Freeport trust buys access, easement for 2 properties

FREEPORT — The Freeport Conservation Trust has purchased access to previously inaccessible woodlands and is working to purchase a new farm conservation easement.

The Frost Gully Woods and Winter Hill Farm acquisitions will make 63 acres of land conserved under the trust's stewardship available to the public. 

Previously, the woods were landlocked. With the new access purchase, which includes a small parking area, residents can get to the forested land easily from Route 136.

"We're pleased to have it in particular because most of our  preserves are east of Interstate 295 and this is west of I-295," said Mason Morfit, the trust's vice president. "The next task is to put in a trail as soon as the weather warms up."

The 13-acre hockey stick-shaped parcel has a semi-frozen creek running through it. The majority of the property is a long and narrow, but at the southeast end the stream and the property opens up to Frost Gully Pond, an oval body slightly larger than a football field.

The property abuts Griffin Woods, which is under easement to the trust and privately owned by the Griffin family. It's flanked by I-295 and the Burr Cemetery, which provides parking and access to the woods.

The total cost for the purchase was $30,000. Freeport contributed about half the sum using a portion of a conservation bond and was helped by a donation from the Falmouth Davis Conservation Foundation, according to Katrina Van Dusen, the trust's executive coordinator.

As part of the deal, the town has an easement on the property.

Van Dusen said the land will be a great asset for people who desire an easily accessible walk.

"It's not huge property, but if you live nearby, it's a great place to walk your dogs or go for short hike," she said.

Winter Hill Farm, on Wardtown Road, is 50 acres and Freeport's only commercial dairy.

The trust was awarded $120,000 from the Land for Maine's Future program to purchase a conservation easement on the land. It hopes to close on the easement before spring.

The trust still needs another $40,000 to help pay for project costs and an easement stewardship fund.

The farm is operated by Sarah Wiederkehr and Steve Burger, who sell dairy products and produce at several farmers markets in the region.

"The conservation easement precludes (the land's) development for other purposes and makes it affordable for farmers to operate on it," Morfit said. "With the trend to locally produced and grown food, and it being east of I-295, it's a great resource for the community."

Throughout Freeport, the trust has partnered with an array of groups to preserve and connect more than 1,500 acres of open space and 20 miles of public trails.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow Will on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.