Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman
OSI Provides $2.5 Million Loan to Protect Grafton Notch in Maine

NEW YORK, NY - January 3, 2007 - The Open Space Conservancy (OSC), the land acquisition affiliate of the Open Space Institute, recently provided a $2.5 million loan to the Trust for Public Land (TPL) to help permanently protect the 3,688-acre Grafton Notch property in Maine. The land will be added to the State of Maine's 27,253-acre Mahoosuc Public Lands Unit.

Located in the heart of the Northern Forest's Mahoosuc Mountains, Grafton Notch is a deep glaciated valley that contains thick forests, cascading waterfalls, steep cliffs and the eastern slopes of 4,180-foot Old Speck Mountain, one of Maine's tallest peaks. Known for some of the best hiking and recreation in New England, the parcel includes four miles of the Grafton Loop Trail and is less than a mile from the famed Mahoosuc Notch, one of the most rugged sections of the Appalachian Trail.

“We are pleased to collaborate with the Trust for Public Land in protecting this marvelous resource for the people of Maine and elsewhere to enjoy forever,” said Peter Howell, OSI's Executive Vice President.

"The Open Space Institute is playing an instrumental role in the Grafton Notch project, which will widen this vulnerable Appalachian Trail corridor by four miles,” said Sam Hodder, Maine State Director for TPL. "We thank the OSI for their partnership on this effort."

The Grafton Notch property was top-ranked in the President's budget of the Forest Legacy Program, a federal program that works in partnership with states to protect environmentally sensitive forest lands. In addition to providing outstanding recreational opportunities, the parcel is also invaluable habitat for a wide array of plants and animals and home to the headwater streams that feed the Bear and Sunday Rivers. The area serves as a critical link between the extensive wildlands of northern Maine and the Green Mountains of Vermont and Adirondacks of New York. Grafton Notch is also an important working forest supporting local economies. Half of the property will remain open for sustainable timber harvest while the other half is protected as an ecological reserve.

Located in Grafton Township, the parcel is 80% surrounded by State lands but until now was not protected from development. The property situated only ten miles from Sunday River Resort, Maine's largest ski area made the parcel especially vulnerable to liquidation for second home development, which would have forever eliminated the public's access to this dramatic northern landscape.

Through its Northern Forest Protection Fund, OSI has made sixteen loans and grants totaling $16.5 million dollars, protecting 1.4 million acres throughout Maine, New Hampshire, New York and southern Quebec. The Grafton Notch loan represents the fourth loan OSI has made to the Trust for Public Land for transactions in the Northern Forest. Prior transactions include the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Project and expansion of the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge in Errol, New Hampshire that collectively protected 206,662 acres of land.



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