Last summer Boothbay Region Land Trust (BRLT) completed several major improvement projects at its flagship preserve--Oak Point Farm. Among these was the expansion of the disability parking area and the installation of a universally accessible trail to the shore. The trail and parking upgrades have enabled access to the scenic saltwater farm for many who otherwise could not fully enjoy this local treasure.
Community members and visitors have spent the past year discovering the universal access trail. Its installation and opening coincided with a critical moment in our community during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in which stress, anxiety, and isolation had increased and there were fewer outlets available for relief. Local resident Kitty Hartford visited the trail for the first time recently on a sunny spring day. She explains, “I haven’t been able to visit any of the preserves or walk any trails for the past 10 years, and I’ve been cooped up in my tiny apartment during the entire pandemic.” Kitty, who uses a rollator walker for mobility support, was able to spend the day with an old friend enjoying what she describes as a “beautiful outdoor experience.”
With the emergence of COVID-19, Boothbay Region Land Trust recognized early on its unique ability to provide a community resource that was both healthy and safe when few other options were available. There has been an increased recognition and appreciation for natural spaces, as well as a growing awareness that these spaces must be inclusive and truly serve the full community. BRLT has always had a strong focus on public access as a central pillar of its conservation work. The challenges facing this community over the past year only strengthened the land trust’s resolve to maintain this focus on access, and to extend the reach of nature to every person in our community.
In 2021, the land trust focus will continue to center on improvements that further public access and enjoyment of our lands. As a next step, BRLT’s Board of Directors voted to fund additional universal access trail around the fresh water pond at Oak Point Farm, extending the system to just over .5 miles of accessible trail and ensuring that the most spectacular views of the shore and the wildlife rich habitats around the pond can be enjoyed by everyone.