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Strawberry Creek: Preserving the view we all love

By Doug Warren

Harpswell is blessed with a wealth of beautiful, iconic, natural vistas. Consider the seascape off Basin Point, the fishing harbor at Mackerel Cove, or Long Reach as seen from the high ledges of the Cliff Trail. So, it’s appropriate that the view from the Town Office on Mountain Road looking south to the mouth of Strawberry Creek literally stops traffic.

Paddling at Strawberry Creek. (Diane Meadorober photo)

Here, depending on the tide, the sun glistens on still waters or off the productive mud flats that extend toward two small islands, one with an active osprey nest, and Harpswell Sound just beyond. It’s an unforgettable panorama savored by residents and visitors alike. It’s also an important natural area with vital habitats for a wide variety of marine species and waterfowl.

Harpswell Heritage Land Trust (HHLT) now has an opportunity to preserve a portion of this signature view, which is why the land trust has launched the Strawberry Creek Project.

This urgent fundraising effort is designed to provide the financing to purchase two parcels totaling 3.3 acres on the east side of the creek mouth. Keeping these parcels undeveloped will help protect clean marine waters that are key to the local fishing economy and Harpswell’s way of life.

Not to mention the view.

“Not only does Strawberry Creek present an iconic view of mud flats, islands and the water beyond, it is at the center of an extensive area of highly productive mud flats, eelgrass beds, and wildlife habitat,” said Reed Coles, HHLT’s Executive Director. “Scenic beauty, clean ocean waters, and our coastal wildlife habitat underlie the economy and the quality of life in Harpswell.”

Coles explained that the owners of the two pieces of property have had them on the market and are now jointly giving HHLT and its supporters an opportunity to buy and preserve the land, if the land trust can quickly raise $350,000.

“If we are unable to do so,” Coles added, “these properties will once again be put on the market for development.”

According to a conservation values assessment conducted for HHLT by Forest Synthesis LLC of Harpswell, the project “will benefit and protect upland wildlife, tidal waterfowl and wading birds … many ecologically and commercially valuable shellfish beds, productive rockweed beds, and adjacent eelgrass meadows.”

The assessment found that the project’s conservation benefits “extend well beyond the relatively small project area. The mudflats, rockweed beds, and eelgrass beds provide habitat and food-web benefits for species that range throughout the Harpswell Sound ecosystem. Preserving the property as a forested buffer will benefit the many disturbance-sensitive species that nest, feed and rest within and adjacent to the upland and tidal areas of the project area.”

On September 15, a donor made a commitment to match every dollar donated to Strawberry Creek with a dollar contributed to HHLT’s endowment, up to $73,000.

Click here for more information about the project.

October 2020