BANGOR, ME (Jan. 6,
2017)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today joined in announcing a major forest
conservation project in northern Maine. Partnering with the Forest Society of
Maine and the Appalachian Mountain Club, OSI — with supportive funding from the
Wyss Foundation — joined in permanently protecting 4,358 acres of pristine forested
watershed land in the North Maine Woods. The lands, which include a 530-acre
lake and 12 miles of river frontage, are critical to the region’s recreational
and tourism economies and also safeguards vital forest habitat for species of
state and national significance.
Visited by thousands of
people every year from Maine and afar for fishing, hiking, camping, paddling
and hunting, the properties buffer Silver Lake, also known as Mattakeunk Pond; 12
miles of the West Branch of the Pleasant River; and the Katahdin Iron Works
State Historic Site in Piscataquis County, Maine.
project builds on OSI’s ongoing efforts to conserve property in Maine, through
both direct acquisition and in support of local land trust activity.
“For more than two
decades, OSI has been on the ground conserving Maine’s recreational lands,
pristine rivers and working forests. The Silver Lake project builds on
this success and will deliver unparalleled recreational opportunities for the
people of Maine and those who value this extraordinary setting,” said Kim
Elliman, OSI’s President and CEO. “OSI’s contribution to this project would not
have been possible without the Wyss Foundation’s support for our Eastern Lands
Initiative, which aims to protect wilderness landscapes up and down our
nation’s east coast.”
The project also safeguards
vital river habitat for brook trout and Atlantic salmon spawning, and habitat
for American black duck, Canada lynx, Northern Long-eared bat, wood turtles,
bald eagles, and many other species of state and national significance. The
project additionally protects a 400-acre mature, silver maple flood plain
forest, one of the largest and best examples in Maine.
“The remarkable mix of
ecological and recreational values found here made this a high priority project
for us, especially as it is fills a key gap in the network of two million acres
of already conserved lands in this
region of Maine’s North Woods,” said Alan Hutchinson, executive director of the
Forest Society of Maine.
The Forest Society of Maine
worked with North Woods ME Timberlands, LLC—the owner of these lands since
2009—to develop a conservation future for the property, recognizing their
special ecological and recreational values. With the acquisition complete the
Appalachian Mountain Club now owns these lands, which are adjacent to their
other holdings in the area, and the Forest Society of Maine holds a
conservation easement on these newly conserved lands.
The Forest Society of
Maine needed to raise $4.35 million for this acquisition. Success was made
possible with the help of many Forest Society of Maine members and friends including
leadership grants from Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Jane’s Trust, the Knobloch
Family Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Open Space Institute, and Sweet
Water Trust. This support has resulted in permanently conserving more than
4,000 acres of woods and waters that are so special to many people and many
species of wildlife.
The Katahdin Iron Works
operated from 1843 – 1890 and employed 400 at its peak of operations. It used
wood from these forestlands to operate its blast furnaces and kilns. Remnants of
this operation can still be found. The area also became a popular tourist
destination in the1890’s with the Silver Lake Hotel drawing visitors from
across the country, attracted by the scenic setting and abundance of fish and
wildlife. The hotel no longer stands, but the region’s beauty and natural
resources persist and are now conserved for future generations.