New Gloucester's and Auburn's Talking Brook and Big Falls Properties Secure Permanent Protection
January 4, 2024
For more information contact: Jim Britt at: Jim.Britt@maine.gov
Augusta - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL), along with Royal River Conservation Trust (RRCT) and Trust for Public Land (TPL), is pleased to announce the conservation of 200 acres in New Gloucester and Auburn, Maine. The protected properties, which feature scenic brooks, waterfalls, and an extensive trail network, have been permanently protected for outdoor recreation and to conserve these special woodland, wetland, and wildlife habitats.
The conservation project, now called Talking Brook Public Land, consists of a 156-acre parcel, which has been managed by private land owners and open to the public for years, and a 44-acre parcel, formerly known as the Big Falls Preserve, which the Royal River Conservation Trust is donating. Creating this public land is realizing the property owners' long-term vision. The Fralich family has long been committed to making their property accessible to the community by creating an extensive trail network. According to Michael Fralich, "The creation of this public land assures that the citizens of Maine will continue to have access to and enjoy this very special place. We hope it will bring joy to others for years to come."
The properties, spanning Auburn (Androscoggin County) and New Gloucester (Cumberland County), encompass stretches of both Talking Brook and Meadow Brook, tributaries of the Royal River. The project aligns with the Town of New Gloucester's Comprehensive Plan Goals of "preserving open space for public recreational use." The collaborative effort between the land owners, BPL, RRCT, and TPL establishes the land as a unit within the Maine Public Lands system and was funded by the Land for Maine's Future Program, the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, and private individuals and foundations.
Bill Patterson, Deputy Director at the BPL, highlighted the proximity of the newly conserved land to Maine's population centers in communities like Lewiston and Auburn, stating, "The Bureau manages more than 630,000 acres of Public Reserved Lands across the state of Maine including some of the most spectacular recreation destinations and wildlife habitats such as the Tumbledown Mountain and Cutler Coast units. Talking Brook protects accessible land in Maine's more populated and developed southern region and significantly benefits the people of Maine."
Alan Stearns, Executive Director of RRCT, commended BPL leadership, stating, "As the population of our communities surges and thrives, we must do more - working together to conserve the most treasured forests and open spaces of communities before it's too late. The Talking Brook project balances the demand for human respite with exceptional wildlife and clean water."
Betsy Cook, Maine State Director for the Trust for Public Land, celebrated the importance of this effort, stating, "Talking Brook has long been an ideal natural showcase for the best of southern Maine, blending deep forests and clear streams with an easily accessed trail system. While a key driver of this effort has certainly been the needs of a rising population of residents and users of Maine's public lands, it has also been a forward-looking initiative that ensures this community asset delivers environmental and economic benefits long into the future."
The Talking Brook Public Land will be owned by BPL and managed cooperatively with RRCT. This partnership ensures a sustainable and community-oriented approach to the stewardship of this natural treasure. Residents of New Gloucester, Auburn, and surrounding areas are encouraged to explore the scenic trails, waterfalls, and natural beauty of Talking Brook Public Land.
TPL spearheaded the land acquisition, and RRCT will collaborate with BPL in the day-to-day management. New Gloucester residents participated in public meetings during the winter and spring of 2022 and added resounding support for the acquisition. BPL's subsequent management planning process will also include ongoing public participation.
The BPL will lead a public process to integrate Talking Brook Public Land into the existing Pineland Public Lands Management Plan. An existing community advisory committee, including representation from New Gloucester, will assist with the plan's development, which will address the property's natural resources, wildlife habitats, water quality, rare species, and ecological processes. The resulting ten-year management plan will outline goals for protecting natural habitats, outdoor recreation, timber management potential, and overall property management.
About Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands
The BPL is dedicated to conserving natural and cultural resources and providing outdoor recreational opportunities for the people of Maine. For more information, visit www.maine.gov/dacf/parks.
About Royal River Conservation Trust
The Royal River Conservation Trust is a non-profit organization working to preserve the Royal River region's natural resources, scenic beauty, and recreational opportunities. For more information, visit hrrct.org.
About Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national non-profit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org