GOULDSBORO — Fans of the Maine outdoors will soon have another reason to visit the Schoodic Peninsula.
At its most recent meeting, the Gouldsboro Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to gift a roughly 27-acre parcel of land in the village of Birch Harbor to the Eagle Hill Institute for the purpose of creating a small nature preserve.
“It is an aesthetic piece of land unknown to most people in the area,” said Joerg-Henner Lotze, Eagle Hill Institute director. “And our organization is in a position to chaperone it.”
The land, located off Route 186, is a short walk or bicycle ride away from the popular Pickled Wrinkle restaurant. An adjoining 32-acre property fronting Route 186 had been donated by its owners to the Eagle Hill Institute in 2017.
The Eagle Hill Institute, located in Steuben, hosts scientific and natural history training programs, publishes journals on everything from biology to Viking-era archaeology and hosts concerts at its hilltop campus.
The Gouldsboro nature preserve also would serve as an area of study for people hosted by the institute.
“To develop it would have been impractical, because not only is it landlocked, but it’s also a wetland,” said Lotze of the property, which had been owned by the town for many years. “But for us it’s a real gem of an area because it’s a landscape that shows how a functional wetland works.”
Eagle Hill’s director also said the land contained about 16 acres of rare jack pine woodland. Typically occurring in areas with exposed bedrock and a history of wildfire, there are only 20 known examples of this type of forest tracked statewide by the Maine Natural Areas Program.
With the land in hand, the Eagle Hill Institute will begin converting old logging and ATV trails into walking paths, some of which lead down to the water at Birch Harbor.
“Everybody who goes to Schoodic Point goes through Birch Harbor,” Lotze said. “Now within a reasonable distance of that main intersection, you have this pocket nature preserve. Perhaps it gives people a reason to stay in the area for the afternoon.”