Donated by Mrs. Gail Browning in October, 2020, The Browning Family Reserve is a 27 acre property along High Street in Sanford. Located at the street’s highest elevation, her family had planned to build their house there, but after building elsewhere, it was her wish to preserve it for others to enjoy, as she did during her younger years. Abutting Mrs. Browning’s generous donation is Mousam Way Land Trust’s Fawcett-Goodwin Reserve, together forming a 45 acre tract.
Most of the tract consists of gravely, extremely rocky glacial till, with occasional rock outcrops. A large wetland is classified as a Resource Protection Zone and straddles the power line easement. This cattail marsh has scattered red maple saplings and a variety of small shrubs. The dominance of cattails indicates the ground water here is mineral rich with a more or less constant flow. Outflow travels in two directions: southeasterly down the power line corridor eventually flowing to Hay Brook; the second outflow is westerly to a pool visible from High Street. A smaller wetland is at the end of Brandy Lane, a private way. A large vernal pool is found in the northwestern quadrant, visible from the trail. The wetlands occupy about 5 acres, the power line corridor 5 ½, and about 16 acres of mixed hardwoods. hemlock, and a few pine.
The Sanford Mills owned many woodlots in the area during the early 1900’s, and this was one of them. It supplied their sawmill, producing lumber for construction and shipping crates. In the 1950’s, Albert Lavalley owned the land, suppling his New Dam sawmill. These harvesting operations served to transform the area from a pine-oak forest into a northern hardwood forest of red oak, red maple, sugar maple, beech, birch, and ash. Hemlock is scattered in groves throughout the property.
The combination of the wetlands, forest, and a very thick, low coppice shrub land power line corridor provides habitat for a very wide range of plant and animal species, with several habitats optimal for some rare species; The corridor in particular offers a substantial and maintained forest edge area rich in wildlife habitat. Songbirds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals such as the New England cottontail rabbit thrive in such an area. This land is presently a refuge for species no longer common in Sanford, and will only be less common due to future land development. The property will be managed for wildlife value and preservation— including possible rare species restoration, hiking and other low impact recreational activities, and community and civic organization educational projects.
Trail access and parking is available at the Fawcett-Goodwin Reserve trailhead at Central Maine Power Company’s power line corridor on High Street, ½ mile west from the High Street/Route 4 intersection.