The George & Effie Fenderson Wildlife Commons is located in north central Wells, bordering the Town of Sanford, in a very large roadless, or “unfragmented” area. Its preservation began in 1985 with a gift of land deeded to the Town of Wells by Maurice and Evelyn Fenderson “to be preserved as habitat for wildlife.” It was the first of a series of gifts from the Fendersons, supplemented by donations of land from Helen Colby, Karl and David Hilton, and Martin and Sally Morse, along with several purchases. These parcels now total over 600 acres at the headwaters of the Merriland River and the West Brook.
In the early years of Wells’ history, this land was a traditional English “commons,” where livestock was pastured for the summer. Later came farm homesteads; the marsh grass here, as at Wells Beach, was valuable for feeding livestock. After the Civil War the farms were gradually abandoned and forest returned.
There are two entrances to the Fenderson Commons, both marked by large signs. The Town Owned Lands map shows the trails and rights-of-way to the Fenderson Commons. There is a trailhead, an interpretive kiosk, and a marked trail along the Horace Mills Road (Route 9), just north of the Quarry Road. On the eastern side, there is a trailhead along the Sanford Road (Route 109) just north of High Pine Loop, alongside a family cemetery.
The Fenderson Commons has a wealth of wildlife because of its diversity of habitat. The land is a mix of stream, river, marsh, bog, field, and forested upland, set among stands of tall old-growth white pine and a second-growth forest of pine, birch, oak, and maple. It is home to a variety of animals, including deer, moose, bobcat, bear, fisher, coyote, hare, turkey, hawk, owl, and many more.