Great Works Regional Land Trust has come into possession of 26 acres on the Salmon Falls River in South Berwick, a bequest to be known as The Raymond & Simone Savage Wildlife Reserve. Bordering Shorey's Brook,with a mix of woods and fields, tidal and fresh water frontage, it provides some of the best and most diverse habitat in the area. One may see bald eagles flying overhead, sea and bay ducks, shorebirds and upland bird species. The woods and fields are inviting to deer and small mammals.In 1945 Raymond & Simone Savage purchased a 26-acre parcel of land on the Salmon Falls River in South Berwick. It was a property that came with a lot of history. Known earlier as Porter Pines, there was a lodge and dining hall on the property; a dam on Shorey’s Brook created a pond for swimming; the fields were sometimes populated by tents when the area later served as a retreat center for groups. Still later it became a country western music and dance hall called Radio Ranch. The crowds that ended up populating it were a pretty rough bunch as drinking and fights became common. The Savages had no desire to continue the commercial enterprise and it was shut down, much to the relief of the neighbors. They summered on the property, moving there after Raymond’s retirement. After his death, Simone continued to live in the small house but would drive her motor home to Florida for the winter. Simone loved the land and the birds and wildlife that abounded there. She talked with her attorney about making provisions in her will so that the property would be preserved, which led to her designating Great Works Regional Land Trust as the beneficiary upon her death. In 2005, at the age of 92, Simone passed away.
The Trust has now come into possession of the property. In accordance with her wishes it will be known as The Raymond & Simone Savage Wildlife Preserve. With its mix of woods and fields, tidal and fresh water frontage, it provides some of the best and most diverse habitat in the area. One may see bald eagles flying overhead, sea and bay ducks, shorebirds and upland bird species. The woods and fields are inviting to deer and small mammals.
The Trust has begun working on a management plan for the parcel. We regard it as one of our most important properties both for its ecological significance and its value for public enjoyment and expect the management plan to emphasize the enhancement of the wildlife habitat and the development of public access. The dam on Shorey’s Brook was breeched several years ago so we will be looking at the remains of the dam structure and evaluating the different possibilities ranging from repair to removal. Excited by this opportunity to provide a great new asset for our communities, we are deeply grateful to the estate of Simone Savage for entrusting this jewel to us.
- Bob Eger