Thoit’s Branch Headwaters Preserve

Help us protect one of the most resilient riparian corridors in Southern Maine. Thoit’s Branch is a haven for wildlife habitat and marsh ecology and bio-diversity. Let’s keep it that way! 

Please give now to RRCT’s Land Acquisition Reserve Fund to help us create this new preserve in 2020!  

RRCT’s Thoit’s Branch Headwaters Preserve is a planned new 75-acre preserve off Upper Minot Road in Pownal. The preserve will be created by the purchase of a 57-acre parcel abutting an existing a 17-acre RRCT woodlot.

With frontage on Thoit’s Branch and frontage on the bogs and marshes seen off Pownal’s Poland Range Road, the new preserve will support wildlife, marsh ecology, and traditional uses including hunting and local snowmobile access. The streambanks and wetlands of the Upper Thoit’s Branch watershed have been mapped by The Nature Conservancy as among the most resilient riparian climate corridors in southern Maine, anticipating the need for adaptation to climate change. For TNC data for this parcel, see also the Maps section on this page.

Formerly, the Elmer & Bertha Edwards Libby Farm, the parcel today hosts mature forests with a few areas of old pasture now providing edge habitat. Neighborhood snowmobile trails and old logging roads allow exploration year-round.

The acquisition is part of a larger RRCT-led initiative to focus on the conservation values of Pownal’s Thoit’s Branch watershed, described further below. Thoit’s Branch flows through Bradbury Mountain State Park and through RRCT’s Old Harris Road Preserve before its confluence with the East Branch of the Royal River near Route 9 (Hallowell Road) in Pownal.

In 2020, RRCT is raising $40,000 for acquisition and stewardship of this planned new preserve, through donations to RRCT’s rolling Land Acquisition Reserve fund.

The budget is here:

  • $30,000: Acquisition of 57.5 acres from Southworth Investments, LLC, at $30,000. At roughly $500 per acre, the acquisition value is well below market value, generously offered by the landowner.
  • RRCT’s legal fees, survey, and due diligence have been covered by Land Acquisition Reserve Fund donations from previous years. 
  • $10,000: New donations to RRCT’s Land Acquisition Reserve Fund as a result of this project will allow RRCT to transfer $10,000 to RRCT’s long-term stewardship reserves, which we invest to care for land for perpetuity. This $10,000 boost associated with this acquisition will generate 4% income per year ($400 per year) to cover land management and other expenses.     
  • Staff time and overhead: Staff time and overhead for land acquisition for this project comes thanks to your past support of RRCT through your annual personal and business donations.  

Donations to the Land Acquisition Reserve Fund: click here. Thank you for your support!  You earmark your donation for the Thoit’s Branch Headwaters Preserve. 

Full details on Land Acquisition Reserve Fund policy and approach, and long-term stewardship reserves: click here 

Contact us if you’d like specific progress reports on this small campaign, or budget reports on our actual use of Land Acquisition Reserve Fund money.

Campaign PDF Material and Campaign Progress

Print out this three-page 8.5 x 11 Thoit’s Branch PDF to help us spread the word about this campaign, and to help people donate by mail.  The PDF information is identical to the content of this webpage.  

Thoit's Branch Watershed description and goals

Thoit’s Branch rises in the wetlands mostly north of Poland Range Road in Pownal and flows south between Route 9 and Lawrence Road, crosses Elmwood Road about 0.5 miles west of the Pownal school, and continues south to its confluence with the East Branch of the Royal River near Route 9 in Pownal. The East Branch continues south into North Yarmouth, where it joins with the Chandler (Middle Branch of the Royal) and ultimately with the Royal’s main thread at Old Town House Park in North Yarmouth. (Some of the flow of Thoit’s actually originates east of Route 9 in Bradbury State Park, flowing north and then southwest to join up south of Poland Range Road.)

After leaving the wetlands, Thoit’s generally flows freely through mixed forest, some actively managed for forest products, some not. Currently, residential development in the watershed is adjacent to the long-established roads: Elmwood, Route 9, Poland Range, Lawrence, Tryon, and Minot. Minot used to cut across the watershed east-west, but the middle portion was discontinued by the town a couple of decades ago.

Parcels and ownership:

  • Several large parcels in the 50-120 acre range
  • Many smaller (but deep) parcels with residences on or near the roads
  • Many land-locked parcels
  • Some parcels are owned by old families with long history in town and great affection for their land.
  • The main body of Bradbury Mountain State Park lies within this watershed.
  • The Bradbury-Pineland Corridor passes through this watershed, crossing Thoit’s Branch by bridge, running west from the Park.
  • RRCT owns and holds easements on several parcels within this watershed.
  • The watershed includes a north-south snowmobile corridor, with spurs connecting to other local trail systems.

Conservation values:

  • Large block of un-fragmented habitat
  • Protection of water quality
  • Preservation of access for recreation
  • Agriculture

Risks:

  • Further development will fragment habitat and possibly degrade water quality.
  • Fragmentation by further development will probably limit future recreational use within the watershed.
Rules and Regulations and Hunting

Because the preserve is not yet open, RRCT has not posted rules.  Our intentions are to allow safe and responsible hunting, as defined by state law.

RRCT & You: Updates, Alerts, & Cautions

This preserve has not yet been opened to the public, thus please use caution if exploring the property and expect unfinished trails, evolving signage, neighbors’ postings, 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
Stewardship and Conservation History

Coming soon! 

Natural Resources, Habitat, and Historic Interpretation

Farm Profiles through the Century. The Elmer and Bertha Edwards Libby Farm, and other photos. On Pownal Time, One Hundred Years in a Rural Maine Town 1908-2008.  The Pownal Scenic and Historical Society.  

Historic aerial photo of Old Libby Farm 1940

Historic topographic map, Old Libby Farm, 1941

More coming soon!