Thanks to landowner David Thanhauser, Coastal Mountains Land Trust now owns its first preserve in Swanville.

The property, 49 acres that lies between Oak Hill Road and riparian wetlands along Meadow Brook, is recovering from a failed subdivision development, a severe forest harvest and a bank foreclosure auction. These events, however, afforded Thanhauser the opportunity to acquire the land and donate it to CMLT, which was completed in late 2011. The property is named the Meadow Brook Preserve.

Meadow Brook is the primary tributary to Hurds Pond, an undeveloped, wild pond that is very close to the new preserve. Thanhauser noted that his donation was preceded by another gift of land to conservation made by the Hauk family in 1984. The property that they donated, now owned by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, protects about half of the shoreline and wetlands that surround Hurds Pond. Thanhauser hopes that these two properties, along with future conservation acquisitions in the Hurds Pond watershed, will ultimately establish a large tract of undeveloped, natural land.

Conservation of land in the watershed will protect water quality in Meadow Brook and Hurds Pond, conserve diverse habitats for a wide range of wildlife species and offer new opportunities for outdoor recreation, according to a news release from CMLT.

“We have worked cooperatively with land owners for the past 25 years to create a conservation future for their property,” said Scott Dickerson, executive director of CMLT. “It’s an entirely voluntary process through which many land owners achieve a cherished goal for their property — that it remain a productive and undeveloped place of natural beauty for future generations.”

The Meadow Brook Preserve, like all preserves owned by Coastal Mountains Land Trust, is open to the public for low-impact outdoor recreation such as hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and hunting upland game and waterfowl. The preserve presently has no improved trails, but CMLT anticipates that recovery of the forest will transform the preserve into an attractive, natural setting for a trail that might ultimately extend to other parcels conserved in the watershed. Such trails will be especially suitable for winter use by cross-country skiers and snowshoers , since the extensive wetlands around the brook make travel very difficult in other seasons.

In the meantime, however, hikers should use caution due to the slash produced by the extensive forest harvest. In order to determine suitable uses of the land, CMLT will be conducting an ecological inventory of the preserve to guide its management, including eventual placement of any trails.

Coastal Mountains Land Trust permanently conserves land to benefit the natural and human communities of western Penobscot Bay. In its 26th year, the 9,061 acres of land the land trust has conserved host 25 miles of trails and protect biological diversity, water resources, productive farms and forests, and scenic landscapes, all of which are essential to sustaining our quality of place. To learn more about CMLT, visit coastalmountains.org or call 236-7091.