The Plains is a large sandplain grassland in the town of Kennebunk. The site is composed of native grasses, forbs, and shrubs. The substrate is a thick bed of sand up to 100 feet deep. Grasses and other plants there are well-adapted to this xeric habitat.

Ornithological Summary

A distinctive group of grassland birds breed at this site. Upland Sandpipers, Grasshopper Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks, and Bobolinks all occur here. The forest edges support nesting Whip-poor-wills, Black-billed Cuckoos, and an assortment of warblers, and on occasion, local rarities such as Clay-colored Sparrow and Lark Bunting.

Conservation Issues

The site is in conservation ownership. The habitat is managed with periodic prescribed burning and mowing. The site is popular with birders and hikers, and it is important that naturalists and all visitors respect the regulations designed to protect nesting birds. Managing human use at this site is a constant struggle. Dumping trash and driving through The Plains during the nesting season is unfortunately far too common.


The Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife owns over 1000 acres in the area with a conservation easement on an additional 200+ acres. The Nature Conservancy owns an abutting parcel of approximately 135 acres. Lands owned by the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy are cooperatively managed. There are two main access points, one approximately 3.5 miles west of I-95 on Route 99, and another via the McGuire Road about ? mile east of the junction with Route 99. Travel throughout the plains is restricted during the nesting season and numerous signs describe suitable uses of this area.

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