ARBORETUM at FORT WILLIAMS PARK:
In 2007, citizens concerned about the fragile state of the Park’s ecology envisioned an arboretum project as a way to restore the Park’s horticultural beauty and ecological health. Fourteen landscapes around the Park’s perimeter have been chosen to showcase the Park’s unique natural and historic features.
FORT WILLIAMS PARK FOUNDATION
The Fort Williams Park Foundation was chartered in 2001 by the Cape Elizabeth Town Council and the Fort Williams Advisory Commission.
The mission of the Foundation is to preserve and enhance the natural and historic resources of Fort Williams Park for future generations by providing funding support and stewardship for selected projects which enhance the condition of the Park, and to establish an endowment fund, the income from which will ensure the Park’s sustainability.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES for the ARBORETUM PROJECT:
- Reverse damage done by invasive plant species
- Restore sustainable landscapes, native biodiversity and wildlife habitat
- Create open space and improve accessibility
- Enhance the outdoor experience
- Foster educational resources, community participation and stewardship of the park.
The first demonstration of the Arboretum’s potential came in 2012 with the completion of Cliffside. 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. The second Arboretum site, Lighthouse View, contains a beautiful example of a native meadow with wildflowers enjoyed by people and pollinators alike. The transformation of this highly-trafficked space adjacent to the lighthouse can serve to raise awareness and inspire an expanded stewardship of the environment.
The third Arboretum project, the Children’s Garden, was designed to become a natural oasis that celebrates local ecology and history while stimulating the imagination and encouraging children to interact playfully with the natural environment through climbing, exploration and discovery. Engaging children in quality outdoor play experiences promotes healthy childhood development while instilling deep and lasting connections with nature.
Garden features include paths leading to a variety of opportunities for creative play; a small, diverse woodland full of birdsong; a shallow pond promising frogs and dragonﬂies; water ﬂowing through a series of cascades into the Skating Pond below; a “gopher tunnel”; a tree lookout fort; and a picnic area for rest and regrouping. Additional features in the process of being created include a meadow alive with native wildﬂowers and pollinating insects, and a living willow tunnel and dome.
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.
More landscapes are planned for the future to provide additional places of refuge and wonder for Park visitors and habitat for the wildlife with which we share this space. This ambitious project will be many years in the making, and success will depend on the continued help of generous donors and dedicated volunteers.
For more information about current and future Arboretum plans, activities, events, and how you might volunteer or donate, please visit our website at fortwilliams.org or use the contact info below to reach us by mail, phone or email:
Fort Williams Park Foundation
P.O. Box 6260,
Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107