Here’s some good news for birdwatchers in southern Maine. Congress has approved $3 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to acquire the 110-acre Timber Point property as part of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. The Biddeford property is one of the last undeveloped coastal Maine chunks of real estate south of Cape Elizabeth.
It’s not exactly a done deal. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is working in partnership with the Friends of Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, the USFWS, town leaders of Biddeford and Kennebunkport, Maine Audubon, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and other groups to protect the property. The $3 million in federal funding is being leveraged by private philanthropy to meet the nearly $7 million property acquisition cost. Efforts are underway to raise the matching funding.
A longstanding priority for protection by the Refuge, the Timber Point property includes more than 2.25 miles of rocky coastline where the Little River empties into the Atlantic in Kennebunkport and is adjacent to the Goose Rocks Beach, a popular public swimming area.
Timber Point’s vast undeveloped expanse of coastal property is also a critical stopping ground for migratory waterfowl as they travel the coast to and from northern nesting grounds. Common Eider, American Black Duck, and numerous other species depend upon this ice-free wintering habitat. Protection of the property will enhance the refuge’s ability to protect water quality, and further consolidate the fragile habitat that exist on the marshes, uplands, creeks, and the estuaries of the coast.
“Timber Point has preserved abundant wildlife,” said Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge manager Ward Feurt. “With diverse habitats like shrubby wetlands, early successional thickets, and grassy openings the habitat supports American woodcock, bobolink, willow flycatchers, Eastern towhee, chestnut-sided warblers gray catbirds. Black ducks winter on the shorelines where sea ducks and migratory shorebirds feed and sanderlings congregate. The rocky offshore habitat serves as a productive lobster nursery,” Feurt continued. “We are planning for visitors to share this land that has been so well cared for.”