Maine landscape. Photo by Carr Clifton.
At A Glance
- It’s estimated that the U.S. loses more than 30 million acres of American forestland to private sales every year.
- Our 2012 efforts connects more than than a million acres of uninterrupted forest habitat
- Our 2005 project was the 2nd largest forestland conservation easement in U.S. history at the time.
- Conservation of this forest supports the local economy, maintains sustainable forestry practices and ensures public access for recreation.
- There are at least 8 active bald eagle nests and 33 nesting pairs of loons, representing 7% of the loons in northern Maine.
Downeast Maine has a one-of-a-kind beauty, with pristine forests, clean waters, and crisp air. In 2012, we did our part to preserve these features, with support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Providing funding to the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, we made it possible for the State of Maine to conserve roughly 22,000 acres of forestland. This land connects with more than a million acres of already-conserved lands, providing uninterrupted forest habitat that stretches beyond the border into New Brunswick, Canada. Our shared conservation success protects Maine’s legacy of working forest jobs and beautiful outdoor heritage.
Past Conservation Efforts Produce Big Results
We first started working in this area back in 2005, when we joined a network of partners to protect more than 325,000 acres of working forest. At the time, this was the second largest forestland conservation easement in U.S. history.
This bold conservation initiative resulted in the permanent protection of more than one million acres of essentially uninterrupted habitat across an international boundary. The protected forestlands are strategically positioned between more than 600,000 acres of conserved lands in New Brunswick and 200,000 acres of state, federal and Native American lands in Maine. The lands contain 54 lakes with 336 miles of lake shoreline and more than 1,500 miles of river and stream shoreline in the Machias, East Machias, Dennys, Mattawamkeag and St. Croix River watersheds.
Conservation Has Both Economic And Environmental Benefits
What was the motivation for such a large-scale project? Sales of significant forest properties in Maine and across the nation are changing the face of our landscapes and communities. In addition, the potential loss of habitat for wildlife as forests are converted to other uses threatens an array of species.
Protecting this forestland in Maine sustains a natural resource based rural economy and the lifestyle of residents in Washington and Penobscot counties. The forest conservation easement and an access easement together maintain sustainable forestry practices and ensure perpetual public access for hunting, fishing, hiking, birding and boating.
There are at least eight active bald eagle nests and 33 nesting pairs of loons, representing seven percent of the loons in northern Maine. Together, the lakes and 50,800 acres of wetlands provide habitat for 180 bird species, including 23 warblers, American black ducks and wood ducks; as well as bear, moose, deer, pine marten, beaver and otter. This tremendous coldwater fishery also supports landlocked salmon and smallmouth bass.
The project brought together an extraordinary group of public and private partners to support the local economy, linked by tradition to the surrounding natural resource base. Project partners included New England Forestry Foundation, State of Maine, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Downeast Lakes Land Trust, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and Wal-Mart’s Acres for America program.