We've just launched a new website—please explore!
These lands are the ancestral homeland of the Abenkaki and Wabanaki people, and were protected with the support of the Passamaquoddy Tribe
The Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership was a joint effort of New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) and the Downeast Lakes Land Trust (DLLT) with numerous partners to protect 339,000 acres in Maine’s easternmost county; NEFF protects 335,000 of these acres under easement. The project was designed to address the social and economic needs of the region, as well as to achieve far-reaching conservation goals. As such, it stands apart from similar landscape-scale conservation efforts.
Strategically situated between 600,000 acres of conservation land in New Brunswick and 200,000 acres of state, federal, and Native American lands in Maine, the project contributes to the protection of more than one million acres across an international boundary. Public access is granted throughout the 339,000 acres, which include more than 1,500 miles of river and stream shoreline, 445 miles of shoreline on all or portions of 60 lakes, and 54,000 acres of productive wetlands.
NEFF conserves its Community Forests through ownership, and they are open daily, free to visit, and offer outdoor recreation opportunities. Unlike NEFF’s Community Forests, land protected by NEFF conservation easements—a legal tool—aren’t open to visitors unless their owners explicitly state so, because many belong to private individuals.
NEFF uses easements to conserve land owned by others. When a landowner grants NEFF an easement, it means they have permanently donated or sold to NEFF the landowner’s right to develop their own property, while the landowner otherwise retains ownership of their land; NEFF ensures the easements’ terms are met and enforced.
New England Forestry Foundation has created a custom monitoring system—complete with aerial photography missions and bushwhacking excursions—that allows us to steward our two landscape-scale easement projects: the 762,000-acre Pingree easement and the 335,000-acre Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership.
NEFF’s primary responsibility as an easement holder is to make sure the property’s natural resources are protected in keeping with the easement terms. Every NEFF easement is uniquely crafted to match the goals of the landowner and the natural resources present on the land, and so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to stewardship. The scale of the Pingree and Downeast Lakes easements initially created a challenge for NEFF, as we had never before attempted easement-monitoring of such large properties, and neither had anyone else! NEFF has since crafted and adapted a streamlined easement inspection process that has proven successful. Read about it in our Stewarding a Landscape blog post.
Through this partnership, DLLT purchased and is managing 27,080 acres as the Farm Cove Community Forest with assistance and funding in part from The Conservation Fund and R.K. Mellon Foundation; NEFF also purchased a 312,000-acre sustainable-forestry easement on the surrounding lands of Typhoon LLC for $12.3 million with financial support and assistance from The Conservation Fund and R.K. Mellon Foundation, as well as a $6 million grant from Acres for America, a partnership between Walmart and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. NEFF also holds easements totaling 23,500 acres on Farm Cove Community Forest.
Local loggers, mill workers, sporting guides and lodge owners, boat builders, wreath makers, and craftspeople depend upon this largely undeveloped landscape for their livelihoods and lifestyles. Seasonal residents and visiting sportsmen and women rely on the pristine landscape for recreation and rejuvenation, populating the sporting camps, hiring local guides, buying local goods, and thereby strengthening the local economy.
This area is one of the most important Neotropical bird breeding habitats in the northern area of the Atlantic flyway, with more than 185 bird species, including 23 species of warblers. Five percent of the Common Loons of Maine live here, and a number of active Bald Eagle nests have been spotted in the area. In addition, American Black Bear, Moose, White-tailed Deer, Pine Marten, and Canada Lynx also live on these lands.