HANCOCK — Frenchman Bay Conservancy is launching a capital campaign to fund the purchase of 1,400 acres in Hancock for the Frenchman Bay Community Forest project.
The community forest will be accessible from the Downeast Sunrise Trail, minutes from downtown Ellsworth. Free and open to the public, the Frenchman Bay Community Forest will provide opportunities for walking, hiking, biking and snowshoeing through a future network of trails. Previously gated from the public, sections of the community forest will now permit hunting.
FBC has already raised over $760,000 toward the $900,000 campaign goal for the purchase and long-term stewardship of the Frenchman Bay Community Forest. With the public campaign, FBC intends to raise the remaining 15 percent of the funds needed to complete this project.
In 2020, communities across Maine turned to the outdoors for exercise, entertainment and relaxation. With a greater demand for outdoor recreation comes the need to protect land for public use, according to the conservancy. Additionally, FBC expects the Community Forest to be a living outdoor classroom where groups can gather safely outdoors to learn about Maine’s unique natural resources, ecosystems and native species.
The protection of this parcel is part of a larger 4,500-acre conservation project. An additional 3,100 acres of land abuts this parcel and is slated for conservation through the New England Forestry Foundation as mitigation for the development of wind energy turbines.
The community forest is part of a nearly 25,000-acre undeveloped “habitat block,” likely the largest remaining undeveloped habitat block in Hancock County under 1 mile to the coast, according to FBC. The Frenchman Bay Community Forest will protect the clean water in Kilkenny and Egypt streams, which flow into Kilkenny Cove and Egypt Bay.
Frenchman Bay Conservancy will host a community conservation webinar on Thursday, Sept. 10, at 3 p.m. over Zoom for those interested in learning more about the Frenchman Bay Community Forest. FBC Executive Director Aaron Dority and Land Protection Manager Kat Deely will share information about the property, answer questions and listen to comments.
Those interested should look to frenchmanbay.org for more information on how to register.