In 2007, a few local graduates of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers program, led by Kathryn Bacastow, became concerned about the negative impact of invasive plants in Fort Williams Park. They envisioned the Ecology Project (at that time named Arboretum Project) as a means to restore and preserve the Park’s beauty and ecological health. After much research and planning, they developed a conceptual master plan for which they received approval from the Cape Elizabeth Town Council in July 2008, followed by the Planning Board in November 2008.
In January 2010, the initial group greatly expanded its potential by forming a highly motivated and capable Steering Committee from a network of horticulturists, arborists, designers, business owners, educators and community volunteers. With detailed planning, outreach, fundraising, volunteer recruitment and project management moving at a rapid pace, the Committee was able to complete Cliffside in 2012, thereby demonstrating the vision of the Ecology Project along a popular stretch of the Cliff Walk.
By the time Cliffside was underway, the Ecology Project was a viable project under the auspices of the Friends of Fort Williams Park (formerly, Fort Williams Park Foundation). Since then, this initiative has galvanized the community in support of their beloved park, inspiring more than 1,500 volunteers and donors to provide financial support and stewardship. Two additional Ecology Project landscapes have been completed since Cliffside; Lighthouse View (2014) and the Children’s Garden (2016-17). A fourth, the Cliff Walk Landscape, is underway and expected to be complete by 2022.