Conservation is the Key to Success in Maine
Seven private groups are purchasing land in Maine’s eastern counties to help preserve and manage the vital wildlife that form the basis for local economic growth.
With combined centuries of experience in managing land for recreational public use, these lands will act as a “buffer for high value aquatic [habitats that support] native brook trout and salmon,” all while providing public access for nature walks, fishing and canoeing.
The Maine Coastal Forest Partnership
The initiative has been named the Maine Coastal Forest Partnership and its sponsors are working together to secure the preservation 17,881 acres to “support recreational access and local economies.”
The effort to protect Maine’s coastal forests is a collaboration between the following seven groups, ranging from community-based to nationally recognized.
The Conservation Fund is a national nonprofit that has saved over 7.8 million acres of land and water in all 50 states since 1985. Their scope is not only to preserve uninhabited areas, but also historical areas. Since 1990, the group has protects over 10,000 acres at 83 different Civil War battlefields. One of the battlefields protected by the group’s fundraising is the Antietam Battlefield in northwestern Maryland. After a September 17th, 1862 battle on the property, the Confederate invasion of the north was halted by the Union and prompted Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
Based in Arlington, the Nature Conservancy has other one million members and consistently ranks as a trusted charity. They have been criticized in recent years for the promotion of hunting as a means to protecting wild animal populations.
Founded in 1970, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust is a non-profit trust dedicated to preserving “extraordinary places” on the Maine coast. The group holds annual conferences and owns and holds land and easements that the group manages for free public use.
Based in Massachusetts, the New England Forestry Foundation was established in 1944 to “care for and make more prudent use of the forests of New England.”
The community-based Blue Hill Heritage Trust in Maine was founded in 1985 and has protected over 7,000 acres of land while working with schools and “taking private action for the public good” to make sure their resources are conserved forever.
The Downeast Salmon Federation is based out of Columbia Falls and is dedicated to conserving fish stock with an emphasis on the wild Atlantic salmon, with a goal of restoring and promoting recreational fishing while protecting the ecology surrounding fish in eastern Maine.
Hancock & Washington Counties
The land purchases were made in Hancock and Washington counties. Washington County borders the Canadian province of New Brunswick and the population of just over 31,000 people rely on tourism and blueberries for their economic success. The county voted for Trump after going for Obama in 2008 and 2012, and Bush in 200 and 2004.
Hancock County, named for John Hancock, has a population of nearly 55,000 people and relies on fish exports from Winter Harbor. The county has been voting Democrat since 1992.
Right now, the coalition is looking to finalize the sales on these purchases:
The Nature Conservancy will acquire 13,799 acres in Spring River-Narraguagus Forest in Hancock County.
- Mark Berry of the Nature Conservancy in Maine said that this is a “great addition to one of Downeast Maine’s most outstanding outdoor recreation destinations… We look forward to…. [securing] the necessary funding to permanently conserve the property for future generations.”
The New England Forestry Foundation will acquire 2,070 acres in the Venture Brook Forest in Washington County.
- Bob Perschel with the NEFF said that they will work with the community on sustainable forestry practices while keeping it open for winter sports and hunting. “Venture Brook will give us the opportunity to implement our strategic approach to sustainable forestry in a new landscape, with a particular focus on protecting wildlife habitat, producing sustainable wood products, and offering recreational opportunities.”
The Blue Hill Heritage Trust will acquire 2,012 acres of the Meadowbrook Forest in Hancock County.
- Hans Carlson with the BHHT said that the purchase represents “big-block protection that just does not happen on the Maine coast much these days,” and that the land is important for recreation, hunting, fishing and habitat. The property included nine miles of paved trails and is documented as a north-south wildlife corridor.
Sources: The Outdoor Wire, The Conservation Fund