December 30, 2016

Mill Brook Preserve provides another hiking option

WESTBROOK - Over 45 people braved frigid temperatures on Saturday, December 10, to attend a Presumpscot Regional Land Trust ribbon cutting to officially open a trail system in Mill Brook Preserve in Westbrook. The three-mile trail system is now open to the public for walking, hiking, trail running and snowshoeing. There are three trailheads, the primary trailhead is next to 789 Methodist Road at the top of the new private road, Allen Knight Road. 

The story of Mill Brook Preserve, which is owned by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, started more than two years ago when the City of Westbrook donated the first parcel of land along Mill Brook to the land trust. With the donation of other parcels since the preserve has now grown to 120 acres.

Mill Brook is about five miles long, beginning in Highland Lake and ending in the Presumpscot River. Most of those five miles, the brook winds through pristine forests all within the City of Westbrook. 

“The new trail system will for the first time open the Mill Brook valley for the public to enjoy,” said Rachelle Curran Apse, PRLT executive director. “While the trail system will be open year round, the late spring will be the high season, with the opportunity for the public to watch thousands of migratory fish swimming upstream from the ocean to Highland Lake to spawn. It truly is a spectacular sight.” 

City of Westbrook Mayor Mike Sanphy spoke at the ribbon cutting. “The Mill Brook Preserve and trail system is a highly successful collaborative initiative of the City of Westbrook, private landowners and the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust to protect and establish public access to this beautiful and incredibly valuable natural feature in our community,” he said.                        

“The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust has become an invaluable partner with the City of Westbrook in preserving and enhancing public access to natural open spaces throughout our city,” added former mayor Colleen Hilton at the event.

Toby Jacobs, the Stewardship and Outreach Coordinator for the land trust, stated, “The great news is that this Mill Brook trail opening is only phase one. Thanks to the most recent City of Westbrook donation and another private donation expected this spring, we plan to expand the trail another mile to the north next summer to reach what will be the junction of Methodist Road and Route 302. 

Volunteers have been incredible in pitching in to build this trail over the last few months, and they will again be vital in helping to extend the trail next summer.”

Creating this preserve and three-mile trail system was only possible with the support of Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s LL Bean Land Trust Grant Program, Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust, Westbrook Environmental Improvement Corporation, Maine Community Foundation’s Deering Fund, City of Westbrook Recreation & Conservation Commission, and land trust members.

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