BUCKFIELD — The Western Foothills Land Trust in Norway has protected another large tract of land in Western Maine.
Lee Dassler, land trust program coordinator, announced that 257 acres have been protected in Buckfield, including 198 acres of working forest and 59.4 acres of a 62-acre working farm. The two parcels were donated to the trust by Wes and Marilyn Ackley.
After spending nearly 40 years on the farm, the couple known for being active in the community, are retiring to Bath.
“The intent of the generous donation is to provide the trust with a sustainable asset that will additionally support local forest industry practices while providing wildlife habitat,” Dassler said.
She said the 2.6-acre core of the farmstead, including the historic Bessey farmhouse and barn and a newer livestock barn, are excluded from protection.
Dassler said the trust will maintain the 198 acres as a working forest or agricultural land.
“That land will not be subdivided or developed in perpetuity,” she said. “We have recorded a declaration of trust at the registry confirming that.”
The Ackleys' intention with the conservation easement is to retain working farms and farmland in Buckfield, she said.
When the Ackleys bought the farm, its large hay barn was in ruins and had to be torn down. A new barn was built to house farming equipment and for their herd of cashmere goats, she said.
“Over the years they have conscientiously renovated the farmhouse and recently relocated the remaining historic barn on a new foundation.
Dassler noted that due to the Ackleys' “significant support,” the area now enjoys the Jersey Bog Conservation Area (protected by the Androscoggin Land Trust) and the Virgil Parris Forest (protected by WFLT). They have also been major contributors to, and trail volunteers at Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway, she said.