An Idea Takes Root
The Fort Williams Park Foundation was chartered in 2001 to preserve and enhance the natural and historic resources of Fort Williams Park for future generations. In pursuit of these goals, the Foundation has undertaken projects that meet the Town’s vision, goals and objectives for the Park, as outlined in the 2011 Fort Williams Park Master Plan. These range from engineering studies to an ambitious initiative to create an Arboretum within the Park. With the help of hundreds of volunteers and donors, we are working to enhance your experience when you visit the park.
As you walk through the park, notice the vines climbing over shrubs, choking trees, blocking views and preventing access to historic remnants. The goal of The Arboretum Project is to control these and other damaging invasive plant species and increase native biodiversity that is more sustainable and supportive of wildlife. When complete, the Arboretum will feature multiple landscapes that highlight the Park’s unique natural and historic features, demonstrating how to control invasive plants while showcasing the beauty and potential of native New England flora.
The first demonstration of the Arboretum’s potential came in 2012 with the completion of the Cliffside landscape. Where invasive shrubs and vines once formed an impenetrable thicket, you can now stroll among native trees and shrubs, sit on stone walls, and enjoy awe-inspiring views of Casco Bay. Cliffside has provided an opportunity for hundreds of people to learn more about good land stewardship and to engage with the community through volunteerism.
Want a place to sit and contemplate the Portland Head Light and ocean? The second Arboretum landscape, aptly named Lighthouse View, was completed in 2014 and welcomes you with a native meadow, shrubs and trees, a lawn, and a picnic area. Here, too, you can sit on reclaimed granite blocks overlooking the water or walk along the Cliff Walk. Watch for work to begin on the challenging tangle of invasive plants all along this well-loved walk. Soon you’ll be able to explore narrow side paths through native shrubs and trees, spotting birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.
In the fall of 2015, the Fort Williams Park Foundation began implementing a multi-year ecological restoration of the Cliff Walk Landscape, which involves suppressing invasive plants while preserving existing remnant native plant communities, and creating conditions more conducive to their spread across the site.
If you have children—or are a child at heart—you should know that construction for a Children’s Garden is underway, a place where children of all ages can let their imaginations—and feet—run free as they splash, build, and explore. Look for this garden to open in mid-July!
To ensure the legacy of the Park for future generations, the Fort Williams Park Foundation needs your support to:
- Reverse damage done by invasive plant species
- Restore sustainable landscapes, native biodiversity and wildlife habitat
- Improve open space and accessibility
- Enhance the outdoor experience
- Foster educational resources, community participation and stewardship of the park