OTISFIELD — The Western Foothills Land Trust recently purchased a 74-acre forested parcel on the Crooked River, with funding provided by conservation partners working to protect water quality in Sebago Lake.

Sebago Lake is the drinking water reservoir for the Portland Water District, providing clean drinking water to 22 communities and over 200,000 Maine residents. The Crooked River is the primary tributary into the lake, supplying 39 percent of Sebago Lake’s surface water.

A photo taken recently by Bruce Small of a pair of otters in Dingley Brook reminds users that Portland Water District billpayers are not the only residents relying on clean water in the watershed. Maintaining the health of the lake, its tributaries, and the environmental functions of the watershed as a whole, are essential to a thriving resilient community.

The Otisfield lot, owned by the heirs of Richard Fogg, includes 1,515 feet of frontage on the river, over 11 acres of wetlands and 661 feet of stream habitat. The parcel also links two separate forested parcels owned by the land trust, creating a protected landscape of 271 acres with 1.5 miles of contiguous shoreline.

The three lots, protected from development and division in perpetuity, will be managed as they have been since settlement, as working forest lands. The trust will continue to pay tree growth taxes to the town of Otisfield.

Funds for the purchase were provided by the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, the Northeast Resilient Landscapes Fund of the Open Space Institute, the Nature Conservancy and the Portland Water District.

The Western Foothills Land Trust now protects 1,457 acres via conservation easements and owns 790 acres in the Crooked River Watershed.

A pair of inquisitive otters swim in Dingley Brook.

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