75th Anniversary, Conservation

Downeast Conservation Success Marks Beginning of New Era

Sep. 24, 2019
Rocky streamed

New England Forestry Foundation is pleased to announce the protection of Reynolds Family Forest, the first of two properties featured in our ongoing Downeast Woods and Wildlife project.

Writing by Tinsley Hunsdorfer, NEFF Communications Manager
Photography by Lauren Owens Lambert

Summer 2018: An Early Look at a Remarkable Forest

In the pre-dawn light of a quiet July morning, a group of NEFF staff members drove 25 miles inland from East Machias, a small town on Maine’s fog-drenched coast, to a remote forest parcel that borders the Dennys River.

NEFF had just taken possession of the 1,160-acre property in June, and we were excited to explore and photograph what would become NEFF’s first Downeast Maine Community Forest.

The property’s bumpy forest road took us through a stand of mixed softwoods that showed signs of a harvest conducted by previous owners; some trees towered overhead to catch the rising light, while spring-green, post-harvest saplings remained in the shadows.

Frog in stream

Dead Stream, photo by Lauren Owens Lambert

We eventually came to a stop at Dead Stream, part of the aquatic habitat that makes the forest so valuable to wild animals, and were immediately greeted by birdsong and the thrum of insect and amphibian life. Well armed with long sleeves and bug spray, we walked the banks of the sun-dappled stream—which is significantly more attractive than its name suggests—and then made our way to a beaver-made pond.

While we weren’t able to access the Dennys River itself during our visit, the water at our feet in these moments connected us to it nonetheless: Dead Stream and the forest parcel’s network of ponds and wetlands send water into the Dennys River, and because it passes through forestland, the water comes out clean and cool. This type of water is exactly the habitat Maine’s endangered Atlantic Salmon need, and that morning, it was remarkable to look down at these small NEFF waterways and know they have a part to play in supporting imperiled wildlife.

Beaver dam

Beaver dam at Reynolds Family Forest, photo by Lauren Owens Lambert

After taking a last look at the pond’s sturdy beaver dam, we walked into the woods, which consist primarily of spruce and fir, with lesser amounts of hemlock, cedar, pine and a variety of hardwoods. We wandered through regrowth and older trees alike, admired rock and root formations, searched out mushrooms and moss, noted available timber types, and generally enjoyed being in the woods.

When it came time to pack up for the day, what was our final impression? This was a forest full of potential, and the beginning of a new era at NEFF.

Reynolds Family Forest Joins Network of NEFF Community Forests

After a year of planning and outreach work, NEFF is ready to unveil this remarkable Downeast Maine forestland, now called the Reynolds Family Forest.

The new forest’s name was chosen to honor NEFF founder Harris Reynolds as we celebrate NEFF’s 75th anniversary, and in recognition of a generous gift from the Reynolds family to the Downeast Woods and Wildlife project.

Bob Reynolds, Harris Reynolds’ grandson, feels the project is a good fit for his family.

“While my grandfather passed away before I was born, as a kid I saw the respect my father and uncle had for his work and for the woodlands he cared so much about,” said Bob. “Keeping Harris Reynolds’ legacy of conservation and quality forestry alive is important to his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Helping NEFF take Exemplary Forestry to Downeast Maine feels like the perfect way to expand on what he started.”

By purchasing Reynolds Family Forest, NEFF has taken the exciting first step in implementing our new conservation strategy: pursuing large and select properties to protect through ownership, largely in New England’s northern forests. This strategy allows NEFF to help conserve high-priority landscapes and ramp up our practice of Exemplary Forestry.


Reynolds Family Forest, photo by Lauren Owens Lambert

As a productive forestland and NEFF’s first large property in the Acadian Forest region, Reynolds will prove to be a powerful tool for demonstrating Exemplary Forestry at scale. NEFF recently published Exemplary Forestry standards specific to northern New England’s Acadian Forest, and we’re looking forward to seeing them in action at Reynolds.

Improving and protecting wildlife habitat is a key feature of Exemplary Forestry, and at Reynolds, NEFF is not only contracting with a local forester to prepare a forest management plan that meets all Exemplary Forestry standards, but is also taking additional steps to safeguard critical habitat through conservation easements.

NEFF and Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF) have been discussing ways to collaborate on the conservation of Downeast salmon watersheds, and have agreed to place a two-fold conservation easement on Reynolds that DSF will hold. The property’s forested uplands will be subject to a sustainable forestry easement that will allow for Exemplary Forestry, while a riparian buffer easement on the property’s freshwater resources will provide special protection to habitat for cold-water fish like salmon and trout. DSF has been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to secure funding for the easement through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

This cooperation and watershed-wide approach to conservation exemplify the importance of connections—between people, and between natural areas—to our Downeast work. For example, NEFF is joining with The Conservation Fund, Blue Hill Heritage Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and DSF to protect a suite of forest properties across the region. In turn, Reynolds Family Forest and these properties will link to lands conserved by NEFF and partners through the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership to create a network of protected, forested waterways that provide safe passage for migrating fish to journey far inland from the sea.

Our thanks to everyone who has joined in this collaborative effort to protect Reynolds Family Forest, and to all who will work to create thriving Downeast watersheds in the months and years to come.

Rocky stream

Dead Stream in Reynolds Family Forest, photo by Lauren Owens Lambert