Cobscook Shores park to expand with 38-acre purchase

“Quite simply we believe that healthy outdoor activities are a benefit to families and society.”
View of the East Machias River.
The Butler Conservation Fund has purchased about 38 acres along the East Machias River.

The Cobscook Shores Park System recently purchased about 38 acres in Wesley along the East Machias River that will be used for a canoe and kayak launch next year.

It’s the latest acquisition for the waterfront park, which was created by the Butler Conservation Fund, a nonprofit started by New York philanthropist Gilbert Butler.

Cobscook Shores, opened in 2020, comprises 20 park lands. Its holdings total roughly 1,300 acres in Washington County.

This particular acquisition includes about 20 acres of wetlands, with the remainder upland. The park has recently finalized right of way access to Route 9, and a road is expected to be completed in time for opening in spring 2024.

“It’s incredibly scenic,” said Charlie Howe, the project manager for the park, who paddled the river with Gilbert Butler and others a few weeks ago.

Cobscook Shores bought the acreage from WAG Maine Holdings LLC of DeLand, Florida for $70,000 in January, according to Howe.

The County Wide News, which first reported the purchase, said that the property lies in the northeast corner of the town of Wesley, near the border with Crawford. 

Butler, an avid kayaker and outdoorsman, was a pioneer in the private equity industry. His New York-based Butler Conservation Fund has spent at least $12 million to acquire and build the Cobscook Shores system.  

“Quite simply we believe that healthy outdoor activities are a benefit to families and society,” Howe said.

The park lands are free and open to the public from mid May to October. In addition, the park system runs youth programs for area kids. 

The Butler fund has helped conserve land in six areas, including coastal Georgia and South Carolina; the Patagonia region of Chile, and in the Adirondacks, according to its website.

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David Dahl

Veteran journalist David Dahl serves as the editor of The Maine Monitor, overseeing its daily operations. David was most recently a deputy managing editor at the Boston Globe. Before joining the Globe, David worked for 20 years at the St. Petersburg Times. He was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University and a fellow at the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program at Columbia University. He has also been an adjunct professor of journalism at Emerson College, Boston College and Boston University. David and his wife, Kathy, enjoy tennis and kayaking at their home in Friendship. They have two adult children.
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