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Blackstrap Hill and Wilshore Farm

Guidelines for Use of LMF Properties

Walking/Hiking Wildlife Observation/Study Cross-country skiing/Snow-shoeing Horseback Riding Dog-Walking Mountain Biking Fishing Hunting/Trapping Snowmobile Trails 

Project Description

At 400 feet, Blackstrap Hill is one of the highest points in Cumberland County. The hill is covered in a mix of conifers and hardwoods, with notable stands of rare black birch, mature hemlock and old-growth trees (including a white oak 14 feet in circumference!). Blackstrap Hill’s wooded slopes are visible for miles, a welcome view of green in the rapidly developing Greater Portland region (which the Brookings Institute recently named ninth in the nation for its rate of sprawl per capita).

Blackstrap Hill forms the hub of a well-established trail network that extends into Cumberland, Windham and Westbrook. For decades, private landowners around the hill allowed traditional recreational access, but with property values soaring and Falmouth’s population growing 3-4 percent annually, many trail users feared for the hill’s future. When one landowner began to consider creating a 35-lot subdivision, the prospect of loss became palpable.

The Falmouth Conservation Trust rallied recreational users of Blackstrap Hill and other community members in hopes of purchasing the threatened land. The Falmouth Town Council agreed to contribute more than a third of the project cost, and two neighboring landowners generously offered to donate easements on their properties – providing a valuable matching contribution. The Trust then sought help from the Casco Bay Estuary Project Habitat Protection Fund and the Land for Maine’s Future Program, which several years before had helped conserve the abutting 183-acre Wilshore Farm. The second State grant helped to create a 468-acre woodland with more than a mile of undeveloped frontage along the Piscataqua River just 8 miles from downtown Portland.

Blackstrap Hill supports diverse and abundant wildlife, providing habitat for more than 120 bird species (including several that the State deems to be of special concern). Hunters come in search of deer, moose, and ruffed grouse while fishermen catch brook trout and brown trout from the river’s banks.