Western Foothills Land Trust acquires Crooked River parcel

NORWAY — The Western Foothills Land Trust has purchased a 74-acre forested parcel on the Crooked River with funding provided by conservation partners working to protect water quality in Sebago Lake, the trust announced.

Sebago Lake is the drinking water reservoir for the Portland Water District, providing clean drinking water to 22 communities and more than 200,000 Maine residents. The Crooked River is the primary tributary into the lake, supplying 39 percent of Sebago Lake’s surface water. As the Portland Water District’s environmental director Paul Hunt often says, “as goes the Crooked River, so goes Sebago Lake.”

The parcel is in Otisfield, and was owned bythe heirs of Richard Fogg. It includes 1,515 feet of frontage on the river, more than 11 acres of wetland, and 661 feet of stream habitat. It links two separate forested parcels owned by the trust, creating a protected landscape of 271 acres with 1.5 miles of contiguous shoreline on the lake, the news release said. Money for the purchase was provided by the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, the Northeast Resilient Landscapes Fund of the Open Space Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and The Portland Water District.

A photo taken recently by Bruce Small of a pair of otters in Dingley Brook reminds us that Portland Water District billpayers are not the only residents relying upon clean water in the Sebago Lake Watershed, the trust said. Maintaining the health of the lake, its tributaries, and the environmental functions of the watershed as a whole, are essential to a thriving resilient community.

The three lots, protected from development and division in perpetuity, will be managed as they have been since settlement, as working forest lands. The trust will continue to pay tree growth taxes to the twn of Otisfield.

The Western Foothills Land Trust now protects 1,457 acres via conservation easements and owns 790 acres in the Crooked River Watershed.

A pair of inquisitive otters in Dingley Brook, part of the Sebago Lake watershed protected by the Western Foothills Land Trust. (Bruce Small photo)