September 14, 2023

The Conservation Fund Conveys Largest-Ever Wildlife Management Area Acquisition for Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine — The Conservation Fund, America’s leading nonprofit in land protection, announced today its sale of 6,326 acres in northeastern Maine to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) to create a new Wildlife Management Area.

Located in Aroostook County, the land was highlighted by MDIFW for conservation of wildlife habitat and opening to public recreation. The property features 3,000 acres of deer wintering habitat within the heart of an important 9,000-acre deer wintering area. Additionally, the land hosts rare species, provides plentiful wading bird and waterfowl habitat, and supports numerous Species of Greatest Conservation Need as identified in Maine’s Wildlife Action Plan.

The Conservation Fund purchased the Reed Deadwater/Juniper Brook property in 2022 from Lakeville Shores, Inc. through its Working Forest Fund® program, which is dedicated to mitigating climate change, strengthening rural economies and protecting natural ecosystems through the permanent conservation of at-risk working forests. A generous loan from the Richard King Mellon Foundation helped with the purchase of the property. As one of the nation’s top land conservation funders, the Richard King Mellon Foundation’s legacy is etched across every state — with over 4.5 million acres of environmentally sensitive areas protected throughout America.

Since its founding in 1985, The Conservation Fund has protected over 490,000 acres in Maine.

“Maine’s outdoor legacy is for everyone,” said Tom Duffus, the Fund’s vice president & northeast representative based in Freeport. “Our work with the state to protect this land secures significant deer wintering habitat as well as an ideal flatwater for families to paddle. Together with our partners, we are safeguarding our state’s natural resources and leaving them open for enjoyment to hunters, anglers, kayakers, canoers and others.”

Known as the Reed Deadwater/Juniper Brook property, the land is positioned within an hour’s drive of Lincoln, Houlton and Millinocket. For this acquisition — the largest Wildlife Management Area purchase in its history — MDIFW used funding from the Land for Maine’s Future program and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration program.

“The Reed Deadwater Project is unique due to both its size and scope, and its benefits as a wildlife management area are countless. It contains over 3,000 acres of historic deer wintering habitat, which will be protected and enhanced, not only providing deer with winter cover but benefitting an array of other upland wildlife as well,” said MDIFW Commissioner Judy Camuso. “With more and more people enjoying the outdoors, and climate change impacting Maine’s landscape, protecting natural areas such as this has incredible benefits for Maine, its people and our wildlife.”

Now that the property has been conveyed to MDIFW, a deer-focused management plan will seek to preserve and enhance deer wintering habitat, while protecting both fish and wildlife habitat. The Reed Deadwater also contains an eccentric bog, a rare type of ecosystem, and the wetlands provide abundant wading bird and waterfowl habitat. Additionally, it contains globally rare and state threatened Tomah Mayflies. Macwahoc Stream flows through the deadwater and contains a population of state threatened Brook Floater Mussels and the stream is in Atlantic Salmon critical habitat.

The wildlife management area will provide outdoor recreational opportunities for anglers, paddlers and others.

“There are few greater joys than Maine’s great outdoors, untouched landscapes, and the sights and sounds of nature,” said U.S. Senator Angus King, chairman of the National Parks Subcommittee. “The impending sale of more than 6,000 acres to the state for a new wildlife management area is an incredible step to promote the conservation of wildlife habitats and the addition of new areas for public recreation. As proud defenders of Maine’s lands and waters, we are happy to support this initiative that will allow more Maine people to enjoy our natural wonders in the years to come.”

To help ensure the Reed Deadwater/Juniper Brook property was protected from any mining threats, Brookfield Private Equity Holdings, LLC and the J.M. Huber Corporation agreed to gift their respective mineral rights on the land to the Fund so those rights could be reunited with the land, now under state ownership.

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.