Board and staff members from Three Rivers Land Trust and Mousam Way Land Trust on an initial visit to the proposed Sanford Community Forest. Once conserved, the land will be open for low-impact recreation, education, and hunting. From left, Carl Davis, Madge Baker, Jean Noon, Kevin McKeon and Amy Titcomb. Courtesy of Lee Burnett

SANFORD – Fundraising is underway for a proposed 550-acre public-access property on Oak Street in Sanford, and Three Rivers Land Trust is leading monthly tours to share the vision for the land and gather input.

“We want the community to be involved not only in raising the money, but also in shaping the future of this property – we want to hear your thoughts,” said Executive Director Cheri Brunault. 

Adding to the initial grants and donations that raised over 80 percent of the needed funds, local residents and businesses have now donated around $15,000 to the project, including a generous $5,000 grant from Partners Bank. There is a long way to go this year and success is not guaranteed; the land trust continues to seek donations to raise the remaining $135,000 needed by December. Three Rivers is partnering with the Sanford-Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust and reaching out to the City and community organizations to raise awareness and ensure the success of this project. 

The next planned walk at the proposed Sanford Community Forest is June 13 at 1 p.m. Because of limited parking, those interested are asked to register (www.3rlt.org or 207-358-9695).

Three Rivers decided to seek a purchase agreement on the 550-plus acres in 2020, prompted by the organization’s increasing focus on climate resiliency, and the recognition that this large block of timber lands was one of the last remaining unbroken forests of its size within city limits. Under land trust ownership, the land would be protected from development and the 3.8-mile trail loop would be open to the public. The land trust envisions a future where school groups and those seeking healthful recreation would have access to this large natural area with trails, less than 10 minutes from the city’s downtown. Three Rivers also sees this property as an ideal candidate for carbon storage, an important concept in the race against climate change. The Sanford Community Forest could help to slow and resist the effects of climate disruption by growing large trees over time and producing forest products that can store carbon long-term. 

Three Rivers Land Trust is coordinating this ambitious effort as part of its mission to build stronger, healthier communities through the conservation of wild and working landscapes. Keep up with project updates through the Three Rivers Facebook page, or by signing up for the land trust’s e-newsletter at www.3rlt.org. Donations can be made at www.3rlt.org/sanford-community-forest.


Three Rivers Land Trust is a membership-supported organization dedicated to building stronger, healthier communities through the protection of wild and working landscapes in Acton, Alfred, Lebanon, Shapleigh and Sanford/Springvale. Named for the Little Ossipee, Salmon Falls, and Upper Mousam Rivers, Three Rivers Land Trust holds conservation easements to protect farms, forests, and wetlands, and maintains preserves which provide public access to recreation and hunting. For more go to https://www.3rlt.org/sanford-community-forest.