Prime Shoreline and Mountain Acreage Added to State's Public Reserved Lands - Conservation Efforts Protect Traditional Uses
Greenville, Maine -- (October 19, 1999) Department of Conservation Commissioner Ron Lovaglio announced today the addition of 65 miles of lakeshore and riverfront to the State's public reserved land system. The Department of Conservation purchased the land from Plum Creek Timber Company for $5.26 million as a result of the Maine Legislature approving the one-time expenditure from the state's budget surplus.
The State's new holdings include 29 miles on the eastern shore of Moosehead Lake between Day's Academy and Lily Bay, 14 miles along the northern shore of Flagstaff Lake, 7.5 miles on both sides of the west outlet of the Kennebec River, and frontage on several islands in Moosehead and Flagstaff Lakes.
In a simultaneous transaction, the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conference purchased 3,000 acres on the east side of Mount Abraham from Plum Creek with the intention of donating the land to the State of Maine for permanent conservation. "The shores along Moosehead and Flagstaff Lakes and acreage on Mount Abraham will be protected forever because of the tireless work of many individuals," said Governor Angus S. King, Jr. "I would like to acknowledge the initiative that the Maine Legislature took last session to use our surplus to fund this one-time purchase. As a result, all Maine citizens will benefit."
The acquisition ensures continued public access to some of the most treasured natural areas in Maine while also maintaining the region's traditional land uses. At 117 square miles, Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in Maine, and the 29 miles purchased by the state constitutes the largest stretch of undeveloped frontage along its shores.
"Plum Creek is very pleased to mark our one year anniversary in Maine with the closing of our sale to the State. This transaction not only protects traditional access to special places like Moosehead Lake and Mount Abraham, but also enhances Plum Creek's working forest base and our long-term ability to practice sustainable forestry," said Jim Lehner, Plum Creek's general manager for the Northeast Region.
The acquisition along Flagstaff Lake protects scenic views from the State's Bigelow Preserve as well as the water quality of this pristine resource. Along with the Kennebec River, Flagstaff Lake is a popular destination for canoers and fishermen.
"What is exciting about today's announcement is that the State of Maine owns these lands outright which will guarantee traditional recreational uses including camping, hunting and fishing," remarked Commissioner Lovaglio.
This land protection project was facilitated by the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. As a key part of the transaction, TPL acquired and traded to Plum Creek nearly 15,000 acres in Bowtown Township, to the east of Flagstaff Lake. With funding from the nonprofit Maine Wilderness Watershed Trust, portions of the Bowtown property were also protected, including 10 miles of frontage along the Dead and Kennebec Rivers, and 236 acres surrounding the Otter Ponds.
"Opportunities like this one come once in a lifetime," remarked Whitney Hatch, New England regional director of the Trust for Public Land. "This purchase ensures that Maine citizens forever enjoy access to some of the state's most beautiful shorelines and mountain tops."
"Protecting the river and pond frontage in Bowtown, and guaranteeing traditional public access to these lands, is a wonderful bonus to an already great conservation deal," stated David Peppard, president of the Maine Wilderness Watershed Trust.
Mount Abraham is one of the last unprotected 4,000-foot mountains in Maine. The purchase area includes significant pockets of old growth forest and an expansive alpine community that provides habitat for seven rare plant species.
"Only a portion of the ridgeline has established trails, a feature that protects some of the mountain's most sensitive ecological features and provides a rare sense of wilderness," noted Kevin Peterson, the Appalachian Trail Conference's New England regional representative.
The Appalachian Trail Conference, headquartered in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, is a federation of local hiking and outdoors organizations that manages the Appalachian Trail and its adjacent lands and promotes responsible enjoyment of the legendary 2,160-mile footpath. Its Mount Abraham acquisition is part of a larger project to protect the hiking experience in that area.
The Department of Conservation's Bureau of Parks and Lands, which oversees the management of 32 state parks, 12 historic sites, and more than 480,000 acres of public reserved lands, will manage all of the Plum Creek holdings acquired by the State.
For more information please contact:
Susan Benson, Maine Dept. of Conservation
Erin Rowland, The Trust for Public Land
Kevin Peterson, Appalachian Trail Conference