Doughty Point and Island Preserve
The 40-acre forested peninsula and a 2-acre island on the northern end of Great Island make up wild Doughty Point and Island Preserve. An informal, unmarked trail runs the length of the peninsula near the western shore. The peninsula is covered by a mature forest of white pine, red spruce, red oak, and mixed hardwoods. Spartina grasses fringe the point with extensive tidal mudflats to the east. An old cellar hole and cemetery at the north end of the property tell of Harpswell’s agricultural heritage, a time when the forests were all cleared and sheep grazed the land. The tides rush through Prince Gurnet (gurnet means a “place of fast water”) between the point and island, making it a good place to fish for striped bass. Doughty Point and Island Preserve is conserved forever for the quiet enjoyment of future generations of residents and visitors.
There is no land access to Doughty Point, but it is easily accessible by small boats. The best places to land are in the cove on the southwest shore or in the small cove right at the tip of the peninsula. It is within easy paddling distance by canoe or kayak from the boat launches off Hildreth Road in Harpswell or off Prince’s Point Road in Brunswick.
- Open dawn to dusk.
- Carry in, carry out.
- Pedestrian use only.
- No open fires.
- No camping.
- Dogs must be on leash during bird nesting season, April 15-July 31. All other times, dogs must be under owner control and not bother wildlife, neighbors or other users.
- Carry out all dog waste.
- Hunting is allowed. Wear blaze orange and take appropriate safety precautions during hunting season.
- Please respect wildlife, neighbors and other users.
- Power driven mobility devices are not allowed.
1. From a Nature Conservancy Newsletter of the early 1970’s
“The Doughty Preserve, a thickly wooded peninsula, lies on the western side of Sebascodegan Island in the Town of Harpswell. Due to the irregular shape of Sebascodegan, the Doughty Preserve is actually just 400 feet across from Prince Point in Brunswick, separated only by the waters of Prince Gurnet. [Gurnet was a term used in the 17th century to denote a strong current around a headland. Prince was an early settler.] The Preserve consists of a 40 acre peninsula and a two acre island just to the west.
“Doughty Point is covered by a forest that is chiefly a mixture of white pine-oak- beech and spruce-fir. There are also some stands of beech, aspen, and red maple. A young stand of northern white cedar is developing on the west side of the Point. A more mesoic forest type with hemlock, yellow birch, and sugar maple has developed on the poorly drained soils at the southern end of the Point.
“On Doughty Island, the forest is dominated by white and red pine, with red spruce and red oak also present in the canopy. The frequency of blow-downs on the thin soil means that the forest is relatively open, and supports interesting and diverse understory and ground cover plant communities.
“In 1980, an unauthorized campfire on the Island got out of control, causing some damage. New growth has started to come in, but the effects are still evident.
“In the past, ospreys have nested in the old pines and spruce snags on both the Island and the Point. Great blue herons, kingfishers, white-throated sparrows and mourning doves are just a few of the other birds nesting in the area. The intertidal zone on the Preserve is rich and varied. The long, narrow Island and Peninsula are edged with extensive tidal mudflats that contain small Spartina grass marshes and are interspersed with steeper, rocky shores. These different habitats support a wide variety of seaweeds, algae, mollusks, and other marine organisms.
“The bedrock of the Point and Island are part of the Cape Elizabeth Formation, a thin-bedded, rusty schist. This is most clearly seen along the shore, but there are outcrops on the Point.
“Like most of the land in this area, Doughty Point was once more intensively used for fishing and farming. In varying degrees, the forest was cut, cleared and grazed; and as cemetery markers on the Point attest, people were born and died there. Evidence of former homes can still be found in old wells and cellar holes. The last heavy cutting occurred in the 1930’s, however.
“Doughty Point was the gift of Dr. and Mrs. Donald Macomber, who donated the area in 1970 and 1974. The Island was given to The Nature Conservancy in 1972 by Dr. and Mrs. Robert Zottoli. The goal of both gifts was to preserve the land in as natural a state as possible.
“The Preserve is open for careful day use, but there are presently no real trails and access can be tricky. There is no land access. There is a bridge across the Ewin Narrows from Harpswell Neck, but there is no road leading from there up to the Preserve. It is, of course, possible to walk along the shore. Access is possible by boat, but the currents and tides around the Point are strong and there are no well protected landing areas along the shore. Visitors to the Preserve are therefore urged to use caution.”
2. From information provided by Mr. and Mrs. Donald Macomber
“Gurnet” is a term which was used by the American colonists of the 17th century to describe a strong current passing around a headland. Prince was an early settler of the Plymouth colony, and familiar with the gurnet near Yarmouth. He left his home in Duxbury, Massachusetts, and came to the area now known as Prince Point in order to fish the coast of Maine.
“As noted in the general description, this area once was the home of many self-sufficient families, the histories of which are recorded in volumes published for the Towns of Harpswell and Brunswick. A glance at place names on the quadrangle sheet will suggest the names of some of these families; Doughty was certainly among them.
“Prior to 1941, when the property was acquired by the Macomber family, Doughty Point was owned by Josephine 0. Coolidge. Ownership by the Macomber family was desired in part because there existed an easement on their Prince Point property which permitted the transport of timber cut on Doughty Point, across to Prince Point and the mainland roads. Traces of an old logging road which presumably led past the cemetery to Prince Gurnet are still in evidence. In December 1970, one-half interest in the property was transferred to TNC. The second half-interest was subsequently transferred to the Conservancy in November 1974. The deed stipulates that the land:
shall forever be held as a nature preserve, for scientific, educational and aesthetic purposes, and shall be kept entirely in (its) natural state, without any disturbance whatever of habitat or plant or animal populations, excepting the undertaking of scientific research and the maintenance of such fences and foot trails as may be appropriate to effectuate the foregoing purposes without impairing the essential natural character of the premises.” (Cumberland County Deed Bk. 3630, pg. 300)
“Doughty Island was given to the Conservancy by Robert and Jeanne Zottoli in December 1972. The Zottoli deed … (contains the same stipulation).”