This land was part of a larger purchase by Joshua Hanson at a land auction in the 1790’s. Shortly afterwards he sold the piece now known as the Town Farm to Zebulon Beal. The Beal family and others farmed it until 1850 when the Town of Sanford bought it for the support of the indigent. The original farmhouse was torn down and the present town infirmary, called Mountain View, was built. This building and six acres surrounding it are excluded from the easement agreement. In the 1970’s a farm pond near the infirmary was dug and stocked with bass. Currently beehives are located on the western side of the pond.
Today the farm is leased to McDougal Orchards (descendants of Joshua Hanson). They use it to grow crops and pasture animals. Formerly they operated cross country ski trails on the land. Public access is limited and requires permission of McDougal Orchards.
The Town Farm was a matching part of a Land For Maine’s Future grant for the purchase of the development rights for the entire Hanson Farm. This land trust became the holder of the Agricultural Conservation Easement for the Town Farm (excluding the infirmary). The Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition is a third party to the easement.
This land together with Hanson Farm is “Farmland Forever.” Some of the most productive agricultural soil in the area is found here. As the only protected farmland on the ridge it will provide a sense of Sanford’s rural beginnings long into the future. Roughly one-third of the land is used to grow forage, raspberries, peaches and vegetables. About two-thirds of the property is very rocky, steep woodland with red oak as the dominant species. Regenerating pines and hemlocks are becoming established after logging in the 1970’s. Three small ponds are located on the land. Two, manmade ones, hold water most of the year and the third is a natural ephemeral pool. All three support populations of wood frogs and spring peepers. A forested portion of this land appears to be suitable habitat for reintroducing the American chestnut, a project proposed by this land trust and supported by the forest management plan produced for Hansen Farm (McDougal Orchards).
Our only requirement is to monitor on a regular basis to detect violations of the easement provisions.
This area has been heavily disturbed over almost three centuries by wood harvesting and fires. The most recent harvest, mostly pine, was in the late 1990’s before the land was sold to PATCO. And the last fire through here was in 1957.
The Johnson family settled in the area and operated both a grist and saw mill on the nearby Great Works River starting in 1790. The proximity of the saw mill to this reserve makes it reasonable to assume the first timber harvest from this lot occurred around that time. Mast pines may have been taken prior to the Revolution and firewood surely was harvested at frequent intervals. The Phillips family succeeded the Johnsons on the land and the heirs of Muriel Phillips sold the land to PATCO. In earlier years, the Hersoms operated a portable sawmill and established a permanent mill and lumberyard in 1949 south of the present-day roundabout. There are reports that the Hersoms harvested cedar from the swamp near the lumberyard.
This property is home to two very rare natural communities that are dependent upon fire for their renewal and persistence. One half of the lot consists of a portion of a much larger pitch pine-scrub oak barren community. This vegetation may possibly harbor several rare moths and a butterfly. The other half is a portion of a much larger Atlantic white cedar swamp. This area is a known home to two rare turtles, a snake and a butterfly and possibly certain amphibians, a rare azalea and two other uncommon shrubs.
This lot was part of the Willard waterpower privilege on the Mousam River. Samuel Willard and three others built a dam with a fall of eight feet and a sawmill between 1755 and 1761 just down river from this reserve. Sometime afterwards he built a bridge over the Mill Pond for a road that led to Alfred before the section of Route 4 between School Street and Route 109 was constructed. At first it was a toll bridge. In the spring of 1862 the sawmill burned and was rebuilt along with a grist mill. Several generations of Willards and relatives lived in the vicinity.
The sawmill was in a dilapidated condition when the Jagger brothers bought the mill from Otis Willard and others in 1904. That year, the Jaggers rebuilt the dam on the former site as well as a factory. The dam was carried away in the mid 1950’s by a flood on the river. Since then the mill has been used for a variety of other purposes. The bridge itself was removed sometime in the late 1960’s. The abutments and approaches remain in place today.
In 1964 Richard and Joan Moroney purchased the property above the old mill because the Willard barn was large enough and so constructed, that Richard could work during the winters on the hull of his Olympic Star Class sailboat. Hence the name for this property.
The present-day floodplain found here actually was the bottom of Willard / Jagger Mill Pond created by the dam. The footprint of this pond can be seen in the marshy ground along the river all the way upstream to School Street. This wetland and adjacent riparian area provides habitats for a wide range of plants and animals. The shrubby nature of parts of this reserve may possibly serve as habitat for the New England cottontail rabbit, a vanishing species. Easy access to this site means it will support outdoor classroom activities for the schools and public.
Intersecting sewer line easements and a part of the old Willard Road create a looping trail that can be used by residents of Patriots Lane and the area. Access to and from the Sanford River Water Trail is possible at this location. Fishing is possible from the abutments of the former bridge.
The Jacobs family occupied the land that today is the IDC Park. They were there early in Sanford’s history. Towards the late 1800’s the Ellis and Quint families lived here. Farming the land must have been difficult because of the droughty, infertile and fire prone nature of the soils and vegetation. The rest of the land is wet most of the year.
Within the past 30 or so years gravel and trees were removed from the park area, activities that the earlier occupants of the land must have engaged in. The abandoned bed of the Atlantic Shore Trolley Line cuts across the park and forms part of the southern boundary of this reserve.
The devastating closure of the Goodall Mills spurred the formation of the Sanford Industrial Development Corporation in 1959 by local citizens and many members of the Chamber of Commerce. The Corporation purchased the tract of land between Route 109 and the Mousam River and built a building on speculation. This was later leased by Sprague Electric Company in 1965. The building was demolished recently.
The shape of this reserve is defined by the sharp northward and then eastward turn of the Mousam River. When glacial melt water flowed through here many thousands of years ago it probably continued on a straight course and connected with what is now called Branch Brook. As the water flow lessened it was diverted to its present course around an emerging bar of sand and gravel.
The entire northerly boundary of the reserve runs along the thread of the Mousam River for one and a quarter miles. There are several plant communities over this stretch and, therefore, several habitats for wildlife. The river at this point is rated as a medium value fish habitat. Bait containers, bobbers and snarled nylon filament support this observation. The adjacent riparian zone is rated as high value wildlife habitat.
The point at which the Sanford Water Districts water line crosses the river provides a launch and recovery area for small hand powered water craft. The water line easement allows access from the circle at Cyro Drive.
Most all of this land lies within the 100 year flood plain and the Shoreland Zone. The best management practice because of inaccessibility would be to let natural succession take place.
The Libby Cedar Reserve is our largest and most complex holding. It consists of 5 lots mostly separated from one another, two of which are in Alfred along Hay Brook. Another is by itself along Route 4 separated from the large cedar swamp by about 300 feet. Access to the large cedar swamp piece was provided by Dana Libby, a non-related, business associate of Robert Libby.
Size Allocation: The Reserve consists of four parcels of land that all together total about 200 acres. The two smallest ones are along Hay Brook in Alfred, Maine. The larger two are in Sanford, Maine. An additional 23-acre piece on the Bernier Road will be added later to give access to the land from that side. The Reserve lies within the area bounded by Route 4 and Bernier, New Dam and the Hay Brook Haul roads. It is within the Hay Brook watershed which empties into Estes Lake. The flood control value of this wetland is enormous. Rain and melt water are absorbed and slowly released into Hay Brook, or evaporated into the air or stored in the surrounding sand and gravel aquifer. One inch of rainfall or melt water from ten inches of snow amount to roughly 5,400,000 gallons of water across the 200 acres of land. If this amount were to run off all at one time, downstream flooding and damage would be devastating.
A number of people have owned parts of this group of lots. Otis Willard and his descendants had a farm near here. Barbed wire fences found on two lots provide evidence of farm pasture. Thomas Goodall owned the piece on Route 4 at one time. He had a brickyard somewhere in the vicinity. B.C. Jordan, lumber baron of Alfred, owned a major part of the lot with the cedar. William Farrar and David Stone later acquired and sold these parcels sometime in the 1940’s to Albert Lavalley who cut some of the cedar in the 1980’s. The Gile family owned the Bernier Road lot. All of these, but the Bernier Road piece, were purchased by North Country Land Company and donated to the land trust. The drier portions of the reserve probably have been cut over repeatedly since the first colonists arrived. In the late 1890’s it is quite likely that a large amount of cedar was cut for ties when the Atlantic Shore Trolley Line was constructed. The former route of the trolley line is not very far from the cedar stand. Most all of the larger trees outside of the cedar swamp on the parcels were removed in a 2007 harvest.
Because there are many different soil types across the reserve, a large number of habitats exist here. A survey in the Massabesic Experimental Forest just across the river turned up an extensive list of plants, many of which are vanishing. Thus it is likely that many of the same species will eventually be found here. The cedar swamp is one of five large stands in York County and is a rare natural community in Maine. Rain and melt water are absorbed and slowly released into Hay Brook, or evaporated into the air or stored in the surrounding sand and gravel aquifer. One inch of rain falling on this reserve amounts to roughly 5,400,000 gallons of water. Melt water from ten inches of snow produces about the same number of gallons. If this amount were to run off quickly, downstream areas would suffer a devastating flood. Other ecological services provided by this reserve would include the probable recharge of the aquifer from which the Sanford Water District draws drinking water. Another service is the filtration of contaminants from the abandoned CGA site and septic systems along New Dam road. The large expanse of vegetation absorbs air pollutants and carbon dioxide
The soils in this area developed from fine sands deposited in an ancient glacial lake around a stranded block of ice. When the ice finally melted, it left a water-filled basin. Over many thousands of years peat accumulated in the basin, displaced much of the water and provided a surface for plants to grow upon. Today an Atlantic white cedar stand grows there.
Such a wetland forest community or swamp is a rare natural community in Maine and the cedar, itself is a species of “Special Concern”. Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Robert Libby, this valuable habitat is now preserved as a home for a wide range of animals and plants. The value of Atlantic white cedar to wildlife is not very well known, but some generalizations can be made on the basis of what is known about its close relative, northern white cedar or arborvitae. The foliage canopy offers cover, food and nesting sites for birds, red squirrels and flying squirrels. The stringy bark of the trunks is used by these animals for their nests. Insects undoubtedly feed on the foliage and in turn are eaten by the birds. The endangered Hessel’s hairstreak butterfly whose caterpillars eat only cedar foliage may be found here. Low growing plants provides food and cover for deer, moose and snowshoe hares.Drier brushy areas are suitable habitat for the rare New England Cottontail, the flood control value of this area is enormous. The thick spongy mat of sphagnum and other mosses that carpet the swamp most likely is home to other insects, amphibians, reptiles, mice and voles.
From the human perspective, the most significant values of this Reserve are the ecological services it performs in slowly releasing rain and melt water, the probable recharge of the aquifer from which Sanford’s Water District draw drinking water and the absorption of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, in exchange for oxygen. Since cedar foliage is evergreen, this process goes on through a major part of the year.
Future Plans For the Reserve:
In the near future the land trust will begin a long-term survey to determine what plants and animals are found there. Whenever possible ornithologists, entomologists, wildlife biologists and botanists will be invited to assist us in the survey. At the same time the swamp will be examined to determine if the creation of a trail is feasible and what route it might take. Also, the cedar research grant awarded to the land trust by the Davis Conservation Foundation will support studies on how best to manage the cedar to ensure its persistence into the future.
The land will be open to low impact use by the public such as traditional hunting and fishing. Trapping will be permitted with permission, particularly if beaver raise the water level. Cedar is killed by a prolonged high water level.
Atlantic white cedar is a member of the cypress family to which the junipers, including red cedar, and Northern white cedar or arborvitae belong. This group is distinguished from other cone-bearing evergreens… Read More
SANFORD — A project to identify and protect important natural resources in Sanford has been chosen to receive a $55,000 grant from the Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environment Technology (CICEET). Town Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to support the project to develop a “Conservation and Preservation Land Use Plan” for Sanford. The project was one of only 13 across the country chosen for funding by the institute, and competition was stiff, Dr. Christine Feurt told town councilors last week. Feurt is the coastal training program coordinator at the Wells National Estuarine Re-search (NERR), the organization that spearheaded the grant proposal. Staff at the Wells Reserve, along with the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission staff, will work with town officials, local land trusts and other citizens who participate in the two-year project to develop a conservation and land use plan for Sanford. “Safford is in the heart of one of the most rapidly growing regions in the state,” Feurt wrote in the grant application. In Sanford’s Comprehensive Plan, residents repeatedly mentioned the importance of the town’s natural resources to water quality, wildlife habitat, quality of life and the character of the town. The “Goals and Policies” section of the plan, often cites natural resources, especially rivers, ponds and undeveloped rural areas for protection and conservation. Among the statements in the comprehensive plan are: “Rural Springvale will maintain its rural character. Undeveloped areas will be protected, perhaps through conservation easements…,” and “Southwest San-ford will remain predominantly rural… Important natural and scenic areas, in particular the slopes of Mount Hope, the Great Works River and the numerous ponds, will be preserved,” and regarding South Sanford, “Sensitive wetlands and waterbodies, including Bauneg Beg Pond and, El Pond, will be preserved.” The water and watershed areas are also important to the region. The project application states that”… water from San-ford’s five watersheds is less than a day’s journey from three estuaries in two states.” The headwater streams for two public drinking water sources are also located in Sanford, according to the application. The grant will provide state-of-the-art software to help participants evaluate the information as well as the impact of development — new business, housing, roads, increases in population, etc. on Sanford’s natural re-sources. “CommunityViz,” is advanced GIS (geographic information systems) software designed to help people visualize the impact of development on re-sources. The program will allow users to explore the impact of various actions well into the future, such as what undeveloped waterfront areas or forests will look like in 50 years under current zoning, and compare the results to desired goals. A steering committee will be formed when the grant comes through in September, Feurt said, to oversee and guide the project as municipal officials and citizens create a conservation land use plan for Sanford through a series workshops and discussions.