BRIDGTON, Maine — Loon Echo Land Trust recently received a $50,000 grant from an anonymous foundation to match donations received for the acquisition of the Peabody-Fitch Woods, located in South Bridgton.

This conservation effort forever protects the Bridgton Historical Society’s historic Narramissic Farm from development encroachment, note Loon Echo Land Trust officials, who added that the acquisition of 252 acres of land surrounding the 18th century farm reunites the original property and keeps its character intact. The land will create a new community space for recreation and educational programming and protect valuable natural resources.

"The Peabody-Fitch project is one of great significance to the community," says Loon Echo’s Stewardship Manager and South Bridgton resident Jon Evans. "It connects two large tracts of conserved land, ensures continued public access, and protects some of the region’s important cultural features. The Peabody and Fitch families left an amazing legacy and we are proud to not only protect their land, but honor their pioneering spirit in the process."

Gifts of any amount to the project will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the grant funds from now until Dec. 31, 2018. A $10 donation towards the purchase becomes $20. A $50 gift becomes $100. A $1,000 gift turns into $2,000. To date, donations totaling $13,185 have been matched. LELT has received approximately 67 percent of the funds for the project and Loon Echo needs another $107,000 to complete the purchase. With a deadline for acquisition of Dec. 31, 2018, Loon Echo is seeking to raise the remaining funds from private individuals, public resources, and additional grants.

Donations to support Peabody-Fitch Woods can be sent to Loon Echo Land Trust, 8 Depot Street Suite No. 4, Bridgton, Maine 04009 or made online at lelt.org/pfw.

An information session about the project will be held on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 6:30 p.m. at the Loon Echo Office, 8 Depot St, Suite 4 in Bridgton. Staff from Loon Echo will also lead an informational snowshoe walk of the property on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 9 to 11 a.m., with a weather date of Saturday, Dec. 15. Meet at Narramissic Farm, 46 Narramissic Road, Bridgton, Maine. Please bring your own snowshoes. Snowshoes are available, free of charge, by request. Email membership@lelt.org or call (207) 647-4352.

The 252 forested acres of the proposed Peabody-Fitch Woods are contiguous with the 1,617 acre Perley Mills Community Forest to the west. It is also in close proximity to five other conserved lands: Five Fields Farm, Bald Pate Preserve, two Town of Bridgton woodlots, Sebago Headwater’s Preserve, and Lakes Environmental Association’s Holt Pond Preserve. The purchase of the Peabody-Fitch Woods property by Loon Echo will preserve an extensive trail network that connects these conserved lands.

Loon Echo has plans to rehabilitate and expand the existing trail network located on the property. The property will be a haven for the public to forever enjoy traditional recreational opportunities including hunting, walking, and nature observation. This project will also allow for enhanced educational and recreational opportunities for the community’s residents and area children.

Loon Echo currently protects nearly 6,700 acres of land and manages 31 miles of multi-use trails in the northern Sebago Lake region. Its mission is to work with the local residents to conserve the region’s natural resources and character for current and future generations. Loon Echo serves seven towns including Bridgton, Casco, Denmark, Harrison, Naples, Raymond and Sebago with an area of 320 square miles located directly north of Sebago Lake. Loon Echo works within its service area to safeguard water quality, preserve scenic locations such as Bald Pate Mountain, Hacker’s Hill and Pleasant Mountain, and provide outreach and fun educational programs to the public. Loon Echo assists landowners to take steps to ensure future generations will benefit from the preservation of their lands. Member support is what enables Loon Echo to carry out their mission and provides funding for their land conservation and stewardship endeavors.

For more information about upcoming events or ways you can support Loon Echo Land Trust, visit their website www.lelt.org, call (207) 647-4352 or visit their office, 8 Depot Street, Suite 4, Bridgton, Maine Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

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