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York River | Cape Neddick River | Brave Boat Harbor | Little River | Josias & Ogunquit Rivers


About Brave Boat Harbor

The Brave Boat Harbor Division encompasses approximately 700 acres with an additional 40 acres managed by the Refuge under a conservation easement. This Division is located within the towns of York and Kittery. Oak-pine forest with vernal pools and old field upland habitats surround salt marsh and estuary habitat. Portions of upland forest have a dense understory of serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), sweet gale (Myrica gale), high bush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), male-berry (Lyonia liqustrina), and spirea (Spirea latifolia). Some forested areas have an understory of speckled alder (Alnus rugosa), winterberry (Ilex veticillata), honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowi), sweet gale, spirea, poison ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii), and Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana) (Lortie and Pelletier 1988). Several rare plants, including white wood aster (Aster divericatus), saltmarsh false-foxglove, wild coffee (Triosteum aurantiacum), and dwarf glasswort (Saliconia bigelovii), are found at Brave Boat.

This area was nominated for inclusion in the Maine Ecological Reserves program because of its saltmarsh ecosystem, and presence of oak-pine forest, exemplary white oak-red oak forest and perched hemlock-hardwood swamp communities, acidic fen, shrub swamp, and vernal pool (McMahon 1998).

It also lies within a Maine Beginning With Habitat Focus Area (Greater Brave Boat Harbor/Gerrish Island) that is known to harbor rare natural communities including red oak-white oak forest, dune grassland, and spartina saltmarsh (Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife). Brave Boat Harbor lies within the Mount Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative, a region in southern Maine that surrounds the largest expanse of open space on the eastern seaboard between Portland and the New Jersey pine barrens (Mount Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative).

Description of Past and Existing Land Use
This is a rural area framed by Route One to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the York/Kittery town line to the south and the York River to the North. It is nearly 6 sq. miles in size, about 10% of the total land area in York. The area's many water bodies, particu- larly the Atlantic Ocean, York River and Brave Boat Harbor, and to a lesser extent Indian Pond, Godfrey Cove Pond, Dolly Gordon Brook and Southside Brook, have influenced historic and current land use patterns. Many of the area's homes have been located to allow dramatic views of these natural resources.

Natural resource dependent activities, agriculture, timber harvesting and commercial fishing, were some of the mainstays of early development in the area. These past uses continue to have a significant affect on current land use patterns as much of this area is owned by several large property owners, most of which were former farms. To date, many of these land owners have chosen not to sell or subdivide their land which has re- sulted in the many remaining areas of open land. The Blaisdell farm on Southside Road is also one of York's last remaining larger active farms.

This has never been an area of intense development such as has occurred in the York Village - York Street area, but it has experienced significant amounts of construction over the last 20+ years. Nearly 10% (106 homes) of the homes built in York since 1987 (1,200+ homes) have been built in this area of Town. New subdivisions have occurred along Pepperrell Way, Brave Boat Harbor Road, Ledgewood Drive, Deacon Road, Woodside Meadows Road and most recently Jeffrey Drive. Most of these homes exceed the median housing value in York, and most residents view this as a very desirable area to live.

Much of this area remains heavily forested as the former farm fields have been allowed to grow over and the housing development which has occurred has often been tucked away into the trees. The area's roads are rarely straight and the thick leafy canopy of specimen trees and occasional stone wall that hug the edge of the pavement help create a mystique in traveling along these ways. This area has its own feel, and much of the past and present development which has occurred has contributed rather than detracted from the area's character.

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