Wildlife habitat and birding trails on Perham Stream secured for public access

6 mins read
Eighty acres of land newly acquired by High Peaks Alliance will ensure public access for future generations. (Photo by Taylor Walker)

MADRID TOWNSHIP — Recently, Maine’s High Peaks Alliance closed on an 80-acre parcel called the Perham Stream Birding Trail in Madrid Township. The parcel rests in the valley between Saddleback Mountain and Mount Abraham (Mount Abram), and boasts a half mile of frontage of Perham Stream.

The birding trails and wildlife habitats were created and fostered by Carson Hinkley, a fifth-generation landowner of the property. Hinkley has traditionally allowed public access through his property, which is listed on Maine Trail Finder and Maine by Foot. By acquiring the property, High Peaks Alliance, a non-profit organization, will ensure that tradition continues.

Much of Maine’s public access land is held by private landowners who generously allow recreational use of their property. With rapid changeovers in landowners, along with concerns of misuse and abuse of private property, public access has been lost in places, restricting trails for foot traffic and motorized vehicles.

Brent West, the executive director of High Peaks Alliance, stated that willing landowners are integral to public access. “A lot of this is based on people caring about other people,” he said.

Outdoor recreation, often facilitated by public access, has significant benefits for health and quality of life.

Many large-scale conservation projects do not get local voices and local input. High Peaks Alliance aims to bridge that gap and foster a sense of ownership and belonging.

In the past, High Peaks Alliance has helped other organizations and municipalities acquire property for public access and develop trails for recreation use. This includes Shiloh Pond in Kingfield, the Rail Trail Bridge Project in Farmington, and the Fly Rod Crosby Trail. The Perham Stream property is the first property that the Alliance has acquired for the organization itself.

Lloyd Griscom, board president of the High Peaks Alliance and longtime Perham Stream Birding Trail enthusiast said, “We at HPA are incredibly grateful to Carson Hinkley for his desire to preserve the tradition of stewardship his family has championed for five generations with this land. There is no doubt that Mr. Hinkley could have sold this parcel for top dollar, but he instead prioritized his family’s legacy, the local environment and public access. We would also like to thank the funders who made our maiden voyage into land stewardship possible.”

Funders for this project include: the Arboretum Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, Davis Conservation Fund, Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Wildeast Action Fund, Kay Gibson, The Wilderness Society with special thanks to Pete McKinley and HPA board members Lloyd Griscom and Ginni Robie.

West noted, “Franklin County is an area with incredible wildlife resources and recreational potential, but most of the area is not currently served by a local land trust. The High Peaks Alliance has worked to conserve land and preserve all forms of recreational access in the high peaks region since 2007, and with this property, the organization is evolving to meet the unfulfilled regional need. We look forward to continuing to serve and grow in Franklin County. This property is just the beginning of what we can accomplish by uniting those people who care about our future together to serve the local area’s conservation needs.”

With large open fields, 2.5 miles of trails, and stunning views of the mountains, Perham Stream Birding Trail provides an easier way to experience Maine’s western mountains. High Peaks Alliance plans to install an accessible trail to allow anyone at any ability level to participate in outdoor recreation and to enjoy the property. The property is accessible year-round from the East Madrid Road. The property is not groomed, but it is flat through the fields and woods and is used through the winter months for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Beyond recreational opportunities, the Maine Natural Areas Program lists Perham Stream as a critical salmon and native brook trout habitat. The state of Maine stocks the stream with endangered Atlantic salmon eggs, and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has identified endangered little brown bats on the birding trail.

High Peaks Alliance is invested in land conservation for the ecosystem and wildlife as well as the people who use the land. Often, these goals are accomplished together: with conservation education and access to natural resources, people can become more invested in their environment and take action to protect it.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email