September 14, 2023

Nearly 29,000 Acres Purchased in Maine’s North Woods to Expand Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Woods Initiative

This news release was originally published by Appalachian Mountain Club and was republished here with permission.

GREENVILLE, Maine – Today, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), America’s oldest conservation and recreation organization, partnered with The Conservation Fund, America’s leading nonprofit in land protection, to purchase and permanently protect nearly 29,000 acres of forestland in Piscataquis County, Maine, known as Barnard Forest.

This is the second time in recent years that the two nonprofit organizations have partnered to increase the land protected through the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Woods Initiative (MWI), the most important multi-use recreation and land conservation project in the United States today.

“The acquisition of Barnard Forest expands AMC’s working model of our holistic approach to land management,” says Nicole Zussman, president and CEO of the Appalachian Mountain Club. “Public recreation, habitat restoration and responsible forestry can — and should — work together to create healthy and resilient ecosystems. We are deeply grateful to our partners at The Conservation Fund and The Malone Family Land Preservation Foundation for purchasing this land and holding it in reserve until the Appalachian Mountain Club can raise the funds to acquire it and bring it under our permanent protection.”

Working together, the two nonprofits purchased the 28,873-acre property, which abuts AMC’s current Maine Woods Initiative property, from Elliotsville Foundation for $15.2 million. AMC purchased the northern half of the property outright; The Conservation Fund and The Malone Family Land Preservation Foundation purchased the southern portion of the property, giving AMC and The Conservation Fund time to raise the funds needed for AMC to assume full ownership. Initial funding for this project includes support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the EJK Foundation, and private donors.

“The Barnard Forest addition is an outstanding example of creating opportunities for public recreation, forest restoration, and sea-run fish passage at a landscape-scale. The benefits to people, the economy, and the climate of the combined conserved lands are unparalleled in the northern forest of New England,” said Tom Duffus, vice president and Northeast representative for The Conservation Fund in Maine. “Permanent funding for this project will be critical to its success.”

Since 2003, AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative has permanently protected over 100,000 contiguous acres of forest and fish habitat in Maine’s famed 100-Mile Wilderness — more than twice the size of Acadia National Park. When AMC raises the funds necessary to permanently conserve the Barnard Forest, the land under the Maine Woods Initiative’s protection will total nearly 130,000 contiguous acres.

As part of its ongoing partnership with The Conservation Fund, AMC finalized the purchase of the adjacent, nearly 27,000-acre Pleasant River Headwaters Forest for $18.5 million in 2022.

The Conservation Fund made both purchases possible by leveraging its Working Forest Fund® program, which uses bridge capital to protect large ecologically and economically important forestland from subdivision and fragmentation, allowing time for permanent conservation solutions to be implemented.

“We are thrilled to be working with The Conservation Fund and all of our local partners and supporters to permanently conserve and reopen the Barnard Forest for forestry, for fish, and for people,” said Steve Tatko, AMC Vice President of Conservation Research and Land Management and area native. “This crucial addition to the MWI landscape will allow us to protect from development one of the most significant forested regions of the eastern U.S. We are encouraged to take on this project through the skill of our local partners and contractors who have become leaders in their field for forestry and conservation work right here in Piscataquis County.”

Through its ownership of the Barnard Forest, AMC will bring its fish habitat restoration efforts that benefit threatened species such as native brook trout and endangered Atlantic salmon to waterways farther south within the West branch of the Pleasant River and to the greater Penobscot River drainage. That work has reopened 110 miles of stream habitat by removing over 100 culverts and restoring natural stream channels, conducting woody debris additions to rebuild in-stream structure, and supporting Atlantic salmon egg planting. In addition, AMC intends to restore public access for recreation for the first time in nearly 20 years.

To learn more about the Maine Woods Initiative, or to support it directly, visit

About the Appalachian Mountain Club

The Appalachian Mountain Club is the nation’s oldest conservation and recreation organization, committed to fostering the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the outdoors. Since 1876, AMC staff, members, and volunteers have encouraged generations to deepen their passion for the outdoors and helped protect some of the most precious natural environments in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Learn more at

About The Conservation Fund

The Conservation Fund protects the land that sustains us all. We are in the business of conservation, creating innovative solutions that drive nature-based action in all 50 states for climate protection, vibrant communities and sustainable economies. We apply effective strategies, efficient financing approaches, and enduring government, community and private partnerships to protect millions of acres of America’s natural land, cultural sites, recreation areas and working forests and farms. To learn more, visit

Contact Information
Pamela Brown | Appalachian Mountain Club | | 203-848-5015
Josh Lynsen | The Conservation Fund | | 703-908-5809