NEW YORK, NY - August 27, 2004 - On August 27 the Open Space Institute (OSI) announced that its Northern Forest Protection Fund had made two grants totaling $2 million to support the purchase of almost 75,000 acres of private forestland in Maine. The forests will be permanently protected from development and managed to ensure the protection of wildlife habitat and clean water, the viability of sustainable forestry and the enhancement of recreational activities.
The awards will support two projects in western and northeastern Maine. A $1 million grant was made to the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) to help support the purchase of 37,000-acres of land in western Maine that will include an ecological reserve, working forest and network of hiking trails. The award comes on the heals of a low interest loan (Open Space Institute Helps to Finance Protection of 37,000-acres in 100-Mile Wilderness in Western Maine - 12/15/2003) of $3 million made to AMC by the Open Space Institute in 2003 for this landmark acquisition. OSI announced this morning a $1 million grant to the New England Forestry Foundation for the purchase, in partnership with the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, of 27,080 acres of land around West Grant and Fourth Machias Lakes for creation of the Farm Cove Community Forest.
The awards represent the third full round of funding from the Northern Forest Protection Fund (the Fund), a $12 million matching capital fund created in 2000 by the Open Space Conservancy (OSC), the land acquisition affiliate of the Open Space Institute. The 26 million-acre Northern Forest is the largest remaining undeveloped forest east of the Mississippi River. Recent shifts in the global economy have had a considerable impact on the forestry industry in the United States. The result in the Northern Forest has been dramatic: in the past five years, almost six million acres have been sold. This rapid turnover in ownership presents a unique opportunity to protect the sweeping forest landscapes for sustainable forestry, wildlife, water quality and public access. The Northern Forest Protection Fund, the first of its kind, was formed to address this challenge.
The Fund was established with lead grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Surdna Foundation and is also funded by Jane's Trust, the Overhills Foundation and the Davis Foundation. The Fund supports efforts by land trusts to permanently protect critical forest landscapes in northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Since 2000, the Fund has made 15 grants and loans totaling $15 million to protect more than 900,000 acres of forestland, including 200,000 acres in reserves and 700,000 acres in working forests, and leveraged $180 million in other public and private funds.
“The projects we announced today represent the new face of conservation in the North Woods,” said Peter Howell, OSI's Director of Conservation Finance. “They integrate the preservation of ecologically significant lands with the protection of well-managed forests. They also advance community economic interests, which we believe are essential to sustaining the long-term conservation of this remarkable region.”
Andrew Falender, Executive Director of the Appalachian Mountain Club, note that the Appalachian Mountain Club's Maine Woods Initiative will focus on the needs of local residents and visitors alike. “We will use our expertise to improve recreational access to some of the more spectacular regions of the North Woods by creating a year-round system of hiking and cross-country skiing trails, new opportunities for kayaking and canoeing, and a new series of backcountry camps and shelters,” said Falender.
Steve Keith, Executive Director of the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, thanked the Open Space Institute and commented that, “the Farm Cove Community Forest was conceived and driven by a diverse group of local residents and supported by a bipartisan constituency. It will benefit residents of Washington County and the State of Maine by protecting wildlife habitat and the natural resource-based economy.”
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