Thoits Branch Headwaters Preserve

RRCT’s Thoits Branch Headwaters Preserve is a 17-acre woodlot off Upper Minot Road in Pownal, with poorly established legal access, and thus no promotion of public access. We have active commitments from abutters to expand this preserve in the near future, creating solid public access.

With frontage on Thoits Branch and frontage on the bogs and marshes seen off Pownal’s Poland Range Road, an expanded preserve will support wildlife, marsh ecology, and traditional uses including hunting and local snowmobile access. The streambanks and wetlands of the Upper Thoits 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, one of the planned acquisition parcels 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 Thoits Branch watershed, described further below. Thoits 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.

Thoits Branch Watershed Description & Goals

With frontage on Thoits 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 Thoits 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.

Thoits 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 Thoits 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, Thoits 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 Thoits 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, 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, and 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 & Conservation History

Coming soon!

Natural Resources, Habitat, and Historic Interpretation

Farm Profiles through the Century. The Elmer and Bertha Edwards Libby Farm, and other photosOn 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!