Nature’s Calling

Nature’s Calling

The Cathance River Nature Preserve provides a wooded wonderland for the 55+ set to make an exhilarating fresh start.

Sponsored Content: By Highland Green

When Rob Potvin retired from a career in construction management at age 53, he wasted no time sitting still. He and his wife, Kathleen, sailed from Nova Scotia to Maryland. Then they sold their house, stored their stuff, and traveled the country towing an Airstream, in search of a new home. ...

After a three-year search, they bought a home in Highland Green, a 55+ active adult community in Topsham, in large part because it backs up to the Cathance River Nature Preserve, a 230-acre expanse of forest, grassy meadows, and 5 miles of trails. ...

The preserve is the result of a unique compromise forged two decades ago between Highland Green’s developer, John Wasileski, and conservation-minded neighbors who were skeptical when the development was first proposed. Highland Green, originally envisioned as a 700-acre community with an 18-hole golf course and more than 600 homes, drew opposition from a group of residents called Topsham’s Future. The group, led by John Rensenbrink, a Bowdoin professor who founded the U.S. Green Party, worried Highland Green would wipe out a treasured hiking and paddling haven and ruin the rural character of the area.

Their concerns resonated with Wasileski, a former environmental studies minor at McGill University who had worked for the National Audubon Society early in his career. He and Rensenbrink brokered a compromise for a scaled-down version of Highland Green that included fewer homes, a nine-hole golf course, and a 230-acre preserve, to be protected and managed in perpetuity by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. Together, Wasileski and Rensenbrink created the nonprofit Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) to promote ecological education and stewardship on site. It was a landmark deal, says Angela Twitchell, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s executive director. ...