Stearns Preserve


Public Access

September 30, 2008

The Stearns Preserve is 10-acre property in North Fryeburg, close to the boundary with the Town of Stow. This small but rare and important wetland was the first preserve donated to USVLT ‘in fee’. We are grateful to the Stearns family for their donation, which was completed in 2008.

The Stearns Preserve is located along the Cold River, just upstream of its confluence with Charles Pond. It consists of Mixed Tall Sedge Fen and Silver Maple Floodplain Forest, both of which are rare natural communities identified by the Maine Natural Areas Program (MNAP). The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has listed this area in the top 25% of the most important freshwater wetland habitat for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ‘Trust Species’

The Stearns Preserve protects:

  •  A portion of the wetland complex known as Stow Meadow, which is classified as a Streamshore Ecosystem. This extensive and diverse wetlands and floodplain along this portion of the Cold River is a very dynamic and rich habitat for wildlife and plants.
  • A population of the rare plant MacGregor’s ryegrass. The endangered species Long’s bulrush can also flourish in these wetlands.
  • ‘Essential wildlife habitat’ designated by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.
  • The area is prime habitat for inland waterfowl and wading birds. Rare animals that live in this habitat are ringed boghaunter, sub-arctic bluet, ribbon snake, spotted turtle, Blanding’s turtle, ebony boghaunter, and black meadowhawk. Other species that are found in this habitat include the northern waterthrush, barred owl, belted kingfisher, bank swallow, silver haired bat , and green heron.
  • Wetlands that serve to absorb water during high rain and melt periods and serve as a natural filter for silt and other particles carried in runoff.
  • Wetland soils with a high ‘ecosystem services’ function (Medomack and Wonsqueak soils and Vassalboro mucky peat).
  • Water quality in the Charles Pond-Cold River watershed area, which is a smaller watershed within the Saco River watershed area.
  • Scenic views of open meadow and floodplain forest, viewable by the public from the Cold River.

Access: This property is best accessed in warmer months via canoe or kayak on the Cold River, which feeds into Charles Pond. To get to Charles Pond, the closest access point is on Harbor Road in North Fryeburg, where the road crosses over the Charles River. Pull off Harbor Road on the north side and paddle upstream on the Charles River until you reach Charles Pond. Then paddle upstream along the Cold River. The Stearns Preserve is on the east side of the Cold River, approximately ¼ to ½ mile upstream of the confluence of the River and the Pond.


State(s): ME
Town(s): fryeburg
Acres: 10
Town Tax Map: 28, Lot: 25
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