The Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area comprises some 600 acres of permanently protected salt marshes and coastal uplands, extending from the Sprague River to the Morse River and to the upland edge of Seawall Beach. It is private property owned by the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area Corporation, a non-profit corporation with members from the St. John Family (which originally conserved the area), Bates College, and the general public. The Nature Conservancy holds conservation easements on the property. Bates College manages the area for research and educational purposes.
Seawall Beach and a portion of the Sprague River back dune area are the property of the Small Point Association, whose mission is to preserve the wild, unspoiled character of the beach, its ecology, and its endangered species habitat.
Conservation and Preservation
Bates College and the Small Point Association cooperate with The Nature Conservancy and Maine Audubon to preserve the plants, birds, animals, and natural communities within the area. These include the nesting sites of the piping plover and the least tern (endangered species of birds which nest on the bare sand), as well as numerous rare and fragile plants, mosses, and lichens.
Education and Research
Each year, over 1,000 students from regional grade schools and colleges utilize Bates-Morse Mountain for environmental studies, leadership development, athletics, and school picnics. In addition, Bates College and affiliated institutions conduct ongoing environmental research throughout the area.
Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area is a popular site for hiking and beach-going. Over an 8 month gate-keeping season, nearly 20,000 people hike to Seawall Beach. The area is open all year, from dawn until dusk. Visitors must park in the lot and walk. During high season, and especially in August, the parking lot is often full by 10 AM. Once full, cars will be turned away. There is no additional parking in the area. Dogs are not allowed in any season.