Bangor Daily News

Conservation group acquires nearly 18,000 acres of forest in coastal Maine

May. 02, 2018

A Virginia-based group has acquired three forested properties totaling nearly 17,900 acres in Hancock and Washington counties.

The Conservation Fund acquired the properties on Tuesday from H.C. Haynes, Inc., a forestry company based in the Penobscot County town of Winn. The properties — the purchase prices of which were not disclosed — will be conveyed to other nonprofit conservation organizations after those groups raise money to purchase them.

The goal of the acquisition is to protect wildlife habitat, ensure future recreational access, and support the economies of nearby coastal communities, according to a prepared statement the fund released this week.

“Working forests, coastal landscapes, and aquatic habitats define Maine’s environment, communities, economy and way of life,” Tom Duffus, vice president of the fund, said in the statement. “We are ensuring that forestland of community- and state-wide importance will always remain as forests, and by working together we can implement permanent conservation solutions that meet the needs of people, protect wildlife habitat and provide economic benefits.”

The properties acquired by the fund include:

— Nearly 13,800 acres, mostly in Township 16, adjacent to The Nature Conservancy’s 9,700-acre Spring River Preserve in eastern Hancock County.

— More than 2,000 acres adjacent to Venture Brook in Cathance and Edmunds townships.

— More than 2,000 acres around Meadow Brook in Ellsworth and Surry.

The Nature Conservancy, with support from Maine Coast Heritage Trust, will work to acquire the Spring River parcel, which includes 3.75 miles of shore on Narraguagus Lake, two miles of frontage on the northern side of Spring River, seven miles of frontage on the Narraguagus River’s west branch, and 46 miles of interior tributary streams.

Blue Hill Heritage Trust intends to purchase the Meadow Brook property — which has more than nine miles of wooded roads ideal for bikers and stroller walkers — with anticipated funding from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Coast Wetlands Conservation Grant Program.

The New England Forestry Foundation plans to acquire the Venture Brook property near Dennysville, which will continue to be managed as a working forest and which remain open to hunting, fishing and snowmobiling.

“Venture Brook has been enjoyed by many sportsmen spanning several decades,” Bill Robinson, an Edmunds resident, said in the release. “Allowing outdoors men and women to enjoy this property is welcome news to all who are familiar and may be new to this land.”

Hunting and other traditional recreational access also will continue to be allowed at the Meadow Brook and Spring River properties, according to Ann Simonelli, spokeswoman for The Conservation Fund.

While it owns the properties, The Conservation Fund will work with the other groups to protect and manage the forestland sustainably, and to honor current leases, she said. The Conservation Fund will continue to pay property taxes on the three parcels.

By Bill Trotter