The Chadbourne family’s tree farm is an unparalleled timber resource in Maine. Over the past 400 years and twelve generations, the Chadbournes have advanced and expanded their careful forestry practices in the state and built a distinguished legacy of working forestland.

Why It Matters

The Chadbourne Tree Farm is ripe with ecological, community and economic value. The conservation of this key forestland will:

  • Protect the fourth largest private forest in the Sebago Lake watershed, filtering drinking water for more than 200,000 residents in the City of Portland. 
  • Secure the scenic viewshed for the White Mountain National Forest and village of Bethel—a popular tourist destination. This protected land will also support Bethel’s extensive public trail network, which is key to the community’ economic future. 
  • Expand and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, supporting local economies and businesses that rely on tourism and recreation. 
  • Support a continued source of forest products for the western Maine economy and timber industry jobs. 

our role

The Fund acquired over 15,000 acres of forestland from Chadbourne Tree Farms, LLC, now owned in a subsidiary White Pine Forest, LLC. To extend our investment and deployment of our green bonds, The Conservation Fund is joined by the Malone Family Land Preservation Foundation as an investor in the Chadbourne Tree Farm project. As a fellow non-profit, the Foundation shares our interest in seeing this land permanently conserved for its many values.

The property will be sustainably managed over the next several years for the improvement and protection of the forest’s valuable resources, wildlife habitat and recreational assets, carrying on the Chadbourne family legacy of exemplary forest management practices. The purchase also will provide time for we and our partners—Inland Woods + Trails (formerly Mahoosuc Pathways, Inc.), Mahoosuc Land Trust, Western Foothills Land Trust, the State of Maine, U.S. Forest Service and others—to raise the necessary dollars to permanently conserve the forests under predominately private ownership.

This conservation effort is part of our Working Forest Fund®—an innovative program dedicated to mitigating climate change, strengthening rural economies, and protecting natural ecosystems through the permanent conservation of at-risk working forests across America.

To fund this land’s permanent protection, we and our partners are seeking support from several public programs including USDA Forest Legacy Program through the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. We also are working with our partners to raise $7 million in private support to complete this significant conservation effort.

“Sebago Lake is one of only 50 public surface water supplies in the country that require no filtration before treatment. Conserving these forestlands is critical for the protection of the region's lakes that provide pure drinking water and recreational opportunities.”

- Karen Young, Coordinator at Sebago Clean Waters

a family legacy 

The Chadbourne Tree Farm project sits on lands that were part of the Wabanaki homeland. In 1634, the Chadbourne Family established a sawmill operation in what is now South Berwick, Maine, and is thought to be the first sawmill in North America. In 1936, the Chadbournes expanded to a new mill in the town of Bethel for its quality white pine. Their exceptional forestry practices, tree pruning and thinning, and intensive white pine management programs produced knot-free, award winning lumber. Robert Chadbourne (11th generation) and his daughter Nancy Lea Chadbourne Stearns (12th generation) continued the tradition of growing white pine trees on their family land through their company Chadbourne Tree Farms, LLC. Robert and Nancy are pleased that this partnership will ensure that the lands will remain forested and continue to provide timber resources.

We need your help 

The Conservation Fund and its partners are actively raising funds for a permanent conservation solution for these lands. For more information about how you can support the conservation of Chadbourne Tree Farm please contact Rachael Joiner