RRCT’s Mèmak Preserve is a new 46-acre conservation area at 78 Lufkin Road in North Yarmouth. Mèmak is a Wabanaki word for Pileated Woodpeckers, associated with luck and friendship in the culture of Maine’s first people. (For more on the etymology, legend, and ornithology of “Mèmak,” scroll below.)
The mature woods are filled with woodpeckers, warblers, and wildlife, and are formed by a diverse mix of red oak, “legacy” mature white pine, hemlock, beech, red pine, and maple. Few forest stands of this quality exist in Cumberland County. Surrounded by mossy stone walls, the trails are popular for walking and family-friendly mountain biking. Blueberries, lady slippers, mushrooms, and wildflowers are scattered on the forest floor. A snowmobile trail creates year-round connections to Route 115 near the Gray-North Yarmouth town line.
In 2020, RRCT raised funds for stewardship and development of this new preserve. The full value of 32 acres of woods was donated by Ed & Joyce Gervais and their family, adjacent to the existing 14-acre RRCT Conservation Easement. Scroll below for a list of donors who made this new preserve possible.
Thank you to the many people who donated to this project:
- Ed and Joyce Gervais & family
- Steve Barr and Martha Leggat
- Christine Force and Tom Cox
- Bob and Margaret Abbott
- Rebecca Gervais and Neil Boater
- Ann Beatty-Rose and Dan Rose
- Pam and John Ames
- Audrey Greenhill Lones
- Steve and Donna Palmer
- Jeffrey and Robin Babino
- Kathryn Dion and David Kennedy
- Rob Wood and Gay Peterson
- Dan Rosenberg and Jennifer Gervais
- Ava and Mya Gervais
- Simon Gervais
- Gro Flatebo and Kent Wommack
- Scott Dugas Trucking & Excavating
- George & Miriam Martin Foundation
- Ted & Celena Gervais
- Margaret Burnham Charitable Trust
- Peter Lindsay and Katie Murphy
- Anonymous (multiple)
Thank you to vendors and volunteers who made this project possible:
- Interpretive content: Freeport Wild Bird Supply
- Photography: Andy Molloy
- Cartography: Center for Community GIS
- Legal & Title: Douglas McDaniel & Campos, LLC
- Survey: Wayne Wood
- Site clearing: SMK, Inc (Lewiston)
- Kiosk and more: Jonathan Dawson
- Trail construction: Royal River Snowmobile Club
- Trail construction: RRCT Trail Crew volunteers
- Trail construction: Summit Utilities volunteer employee work day
- Parking lot construction: Scott Dugas Trucking & Excavation
Trails are evolving during the winter/spring of 2021. In the field you’ll notice weekly changes in survey flagging, temporary signs, and planned wood chipping. Please be patient and respect all neighbors, including several residential construction sites.
RRCT’s new trailhead parking lot is across the road from where today the snowmobile trail comes out of the Dugas gravel pit. The new parking lot entrance and trails are on the left side of Lufkin Road, officially 78 Lufkin Road. Look for an RRCT banner, as we work toward permanent roadside yard-arm signs in the near future.
Lufkin is a dead-end road in North Yarmouth that leaves Route 231 (New Gloucester Road) just north of the intersection of Routes 115 & 231 (just north of the Congregational Church.)
Two parallel trails leave the 78 Lufkin Road parking lot, one designed for snowmobiles. The trail network includes a one-mile “lollipop” loop trail for walking and biking, as well as spurs connecting to neighborhoods and powerlines.
No trails exist to, or upon, the majestic forest of the Deer Brook parcel. It is reserved for adventurous folks looking for off-trail exploration after crossing the raspberries and brambles of the powerline.
We have not yet formally adopted rules for this planned new preserve. We plan to continue to allow safe and responsible hunting, dogs under control, mountain bikes, snowmobiles, and other uses. Please keep dogs on leash near roads, parking, and residences. Please let us know your thoughts or questions, and check back with us later for new rules.
No hunting is allowed on the Deer Brook parcel, due to subdivision covenants.
This preserve is evolving with trail construction, thus please use caution if exploring the property and expect unfinished trails, evolving signage, construction sites, and other concerns.
- RRCT & You: RRCT relies heavily on volunteers and help from trail users like you. You may know more recent information about trail and Preserve conditions than we do – Please consider filling out a Conditions Report. We invite you to be a thoughtful steward by acting as a respectful visitor, adhering to posted rules, and following Leave No Trace practices. RRCT’s small staff and volunteer Trail Crew is able to inspect and maintain RRCT Preserves infrequently; we ask you to report to us any issues you observe that you cannot address yourself, and especially to update us on any safety or public safety issues. Please help us on your visits with litter, pet waste, and minor trail issues. We also invite any information on needed or suggested updates to this webpage. Reach out in any way, most simply with an email to Stewardship@RRCT.org
Scroll above to the maps section for historic maps and historic aerials. Scroll below to the next tab for the Abenaki/Wabanaki etymology of the preserve’s name.
Lufkin Road, also known as “A Road of Many Names,” has a rich history including a tradition of a circle of song. A dusk, Mabel Skillin Kennedy (1872-1963) would sing a call from her home (at the base of the hill) to neighbors, who would pass the song to the neighbors on the Royal River, to Route 231, and back again. This article describes the history of Lufkin Road with an 1871 map, and a description of the circle of song.
Donated in August, 2020, by Ed & Joyce Gervais and their family, the preserve is a cherished addition to North Yarmouth’s rapidly growing village zone. This Forecaster article from December 2020 describes the donation. The Gervais family had acquired the various parcels that now form the preserve; once directly connected to Walnut Hill Farm (83 Gray Road).
The Gervais family acquired the largest of the now-preserve parcels in 2006 from Ursula & Lee Baier in 2006. The Baiers had acquired the parcel along with more land in 1978. This 2020 North Yarmouth Historical Society article describes the Baier legacy and history throughout North Yarmouth, including a photo of Mrs. Baier with Joyce Gervais.
The Baier family also granted the nearby Deer Brook Farm Road conservation easement to the North Yarmouth Land Trust (now merged with Royal River Conservation Trust) on December 29, 1988, as part of the Deer Brook subdivision. This conservation easement is now mapped as part of the preserve. RRCT’s oldest conservation deeds are various deeds of the North Yarmouth Land Trust in 1988, the year after the founding of the North Yarmouth Land Trust, the first of RRCT’s various predecessor organizations. Mrs. Baier served on the board of the North Yarmouth Land Trust beginning in 1997. Ed Gervais served on the board of the Royal River Conservation Trust beginning in 2007. The two organizations merged in 2006.
Mèmak is a Wabanaki word for Pileated Woodpeckers, associated with luck and friendship in the culture of Maine’s first people.
One of the best-recorded Wabanaki languages is the Penobscot language. To learn more about the Penobscot language, and for translation and pronunciation, this online text and audio Penobscot dictionary is a new resource which we used for the spelling and pronunciation of “Mèmak (plural).” Wabanaki local to North Yarmouth were known to tribes in Quebec as Abenaki (“dawn land people”) or to themselves as Alnambak (“real people”), part of the larger Eastern Algonquin ethnicity. The modern Penobscot language is largely the Abenaki language, due to Abenaki re-population of the Penobscot River valley following inter-tribal wars killing the Penobscot River’s Etchemin (also “real people”) leader The Bashaba in 1615, and the same era’s Great Dying of the Penobscot River’s Etchemins due to European disease. (Source: Haviland, Canoe People of Downeast Maine, 2012, pp 15-16).
To read more about Mèmak and stories of native American woodpecker legend and heritage, see: Abenaki/ Algonquin legends.
The mature woods are filled with woodpeckers, warblers, and wildlife, and are formed by a diverse mix of red oak, “Legacy” white pine, hemlock, beech, red pine, and maple. With trees more than twenty inches in diameter, few forest stands of this quality exist in Cumberland County. Surrounded by mossy stone walks, the trails are popular for walking and family-friendly mountain biking. Blueberries, lady slippers, mushrooms, and wildflowers are scattered on the forest floor.
The preserve is located on the northern slopes of Walnut Hill, draining toward Deer Brook. The unique ecology of this area is due to the significant gravel deposits under the preserve, feeding Deer Brook with clear cold water that supports wild brook trout. While many gravel deposits in the area have been excavated, the woods of Mèmak Preserve remain supported by well-drained soils and gravel, resulting in a more diverse forest than most of the watershed (most of the watershed is ledge and clay). The stone walls lining the trails, similarly, are made from small boulders typical of a gravel deposit, as compared to other walls in the watershed that are made of ledgey stone or granite.
On one edge of the property, a few old granite fence posts still stand, perhaps serving as gate posts in a gap in the stone walls.
While the edges of the preserve were recently harvested, most of the preserve has had no timber harvest for more than fifty years, resulting in mature trees supporting a diversity of bird life and wildlife.
Across the powerline, the Deer Brook parcel contains equally old, mature and diverse forests although with steeper slopes and wetter soils, thus dominated by hemlock and mature birch. The short stretch of Deer Brook hosts small quantities of mossy shoreline and wild trout, and is mapped (with various small tributaries) by Maine DIFW as Inland Wading Bird and Waterfowl Habitat.
The Mèmak Preserve is not only home to the Pileated Woodpecker, but also to Pine Siskins, Red Crossbills, Nuthatches, Tufted Titmouses and more. Visit The Best Birding in the Royal River Watershed to learn more.
Scroll above for more on the etymology of the word Mèmak, meaning Pileated Woodpecker, as well as Native American legends.