In 2018, Mark Johnston attended a Midcoast Conservancy event for landowners to learn about options to conserve their land. He marks that day as the beginning of an opportunity – one that will benefit wildlife and the public for years to come. On October 28, Midcoast Conservancy conserved 257 acres in Jefferson that had been in ownership with three siblings in the Johnston family, Rick, Mark, and Laurel, as a generous bargain sale. The land had been in ownership and care of their uncle Erland and father Dick Johnston for over 50 years.
The parcel borders the Musquash Pond Preserve, on Bunker Hill Road in Jefferson. The Musquash Pond Preserve is currently owned by The Nature Conservancy, which intends to transfer it to Midcoast Conservancy in 2019. The Johnston parcel includes 2750 feet of frontage on Musquash Pond, as well as 72 acres of wetland and 185 acres of woodlands. The project protects wildlife habitat, including waterbird and waterfowl breeding, migration, and wintering habitat. Acquisition of the property prevents development of Musquash Pond, which is currently undeveloped, protects the pond and wetlands on the property, and provides critical flood control.
All three siblings had unique reasons for partnering with Midcoast Conservancy to make conserving their family land possible. For Laurel, conserving the woodlot is what her father Dick Johnston and uncle Erland would have wanted – they loved the land, and she is “thrilled knowing people will be able to enjoy it forever.” For Rick, it’s part of his commitment that includes previous work with conservation organizations, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and it “feels really good to be able to protect the land.” Mark sees the bargain sale as “the right thing to do not just for my family but for the whole community and for eternity.”
The Nature Conservancy’s partnership played a significant role in making the project possible. Says Director of Stewardship and Ecological Management Nancy Sferra, “We were excited to contribute to Midcoast Conservancy’s vision of conserving the significant forest and wetlands adjacent to Musquash Pond Preserve.”
Anna Fiedler, Midcoast Conservancy Director of Conservation, says, “Hunting, fishing, and hiking will be welcomed at the property, and we will be exploring options for public recreational uses. We want to work with the community to find ways for people to enjoy Musquash Pond that are in balance with its tremendous value for wildlife.”
This project was made possible by generous funding from: North American Wetland Conservation Act, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, and Margaret Burnham Charitable Trust.