Mahoosuc Land Trust acquires Step Falls
The Mahoosuc Land Trust last week took over ownership of Step Falls Preserve in Grafton Notch from the Nature Conservancy, according to MLT President Bonnie Pooley.
The 24-acre preserve has long been a popular spot for people of all ages to picnic and ride the natural rock waterslides of Wight Brook into pools below.
The Nature Conservancy acquired Step Falls in 1961 from the Wight family of Newry, whose descendants, Owen Wight and Gretchen Strauss, still own the land near the preserve, Pooley said.
The Mahoosuc Land Trust approached the Conservancy several months ago about the possibility of placing the preserve under MLT’s care, she said, and the two organizations have been working since then to make it happen.
The Conservancy officially passed the ownership to MLT in a closing ceremony held Oct. 26 at the Hanley and Associates office of Kirk Siegel in Bethel.
“The Conservancy was pleased to pass it along to our local land trust so that it could come under the care of local stewards,” Pooley said.
According to the Nature Conservancy website, Step Falls “was the Conservancy’s first preserve in Maine, and remains one of the most frequently visited. The 24-acre western Maine preserve features an easy walk to the base of the falls and a longer climb to the top, where the view of the surrounding mountains is breathtaking. Glacial melt water carved Wight Brook at the end of the last ice age. The falls flow over granite criss-crossed with veins of milky quartz.”
Because of its popularity, the preserve has been heavily used and “is in need of some tender loving care, which the Mahoosuc Land Trust happily plans to bestow,” Pooley said.
MLT’s plans will require raising the funds to improve both the parking area and the trail, to update the signage, and to clearly define the boundaries for the protection of the neighbors.
Step Falls is the third property on which The Nature Conservancy has collaborated with the Mahoosuc Land Trust, Pooley said. Both the 4,623 acre Concord River easement and the 36-acre Dearden easement on the west side of Songo Pond came to the Land Trust from the Conservancy.