ELLSWORTH — Two Downeast forestland properties totaling 5,700 acres have been added to the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) network of free and public community forests. NEFF’s 2,690-acre Holmes Stream Community Forest is located next to the popular Cutler Coast Public Land in Washington County, and NEFF’s 3,100-acre Hancock County parcel is part of the existing Frenchman Bay Community Forest.
“We’re excited to bring these beautiful properties into NEFF ownership and management,” said Frank Lowenstein, NEFF’s chief operating officer. “We look forward to managing them for wildlife and recreation while NEFF demonstrates active sustainable forestry.”
Like all NEFF community forests, these properties will be open to the public from dawn to dusk and will allow traditional recreational uses. Depending on when visitors go, they may also get the chance to watch sustainable forestry in action and see how it can benefit wildlife.
NEFF received these properties from Weaver Wind LLC with the obligation to manage the forest for the benefit of songbirds. The lands will be managed in accordance with a Songbird Management Plan that outlines specific habitat needs for species such as warblers.
“Maine Audubon is excited to learn that NEFF has acquired two Downeast Maine forest properties that will be managed specifically to enhance habitat for breeding and migratory songbirds as mitigation for real and potential impacts from the nearby Weaver Wind project,” said Sally Stockwell, director of conservation for Maine Audubon. “These lands could become a model for managing Maine forests for both birds and board feet, with added benefits of storing carbon and producing high quality sawtimber.”
NEFF’s habitat work will be guided by Exemplary Forestry standards that integrate the needs of songbirds and other wildlife species. Exemplary Forestry is a forest management approach created by NEFF that prioritizes forests’ long-term health and outlines the highest standards of sustainability currently available to the region’s forest owners.
“The acquisitions of 5,700 acres in Downeast Maine provides a great opportunity to demonstrate the Exemplary Forestry standards we tailored to the Acadian Forest region,” said Alec Giffen, NEFF’s Maine representative and senior advisor. “By applying these standards, we will not only be able to improve wildlife habitat but also increase timber production, increase timber stocking on the ground, mitigate climate change and continue to provide opportunities for traditional recreational uses such as hunting, fishing and hiking.”
The Frenchman Bay Conservancy (FBC) played a key role in working with the Ellsworth and Hancock communities to identify how the 4,530-acre Frenchman Bay Community Forest — which now includes 3,100 NEFF-owned acres — addresses local recreational needs. FBC and NEFF are drafting an inclusive, forest-wide stewardship plan that will provide a full array of recreational uses, wildlife habitat protection and support for the Sunrise Trail.
“We are thrilled to partner with NEFF to protect this broader property for outdoor recreation and wildlife recreation,” said Aaron Dority, Frenchman Bay Conservancy executive director.
NEFF’s Holmes Stream tract in Whiting abuts the state of Maine’s Cutler Coast Public Lands, a 12,234-acre expanse of blueberry barrens, woodlands and peatlands with 4.5 miles of headlands interspersed by pocket coves and cobble beaches overlooking the Bay of Fundy.
Through the application of NEFF’s core expertise in conserving forestlands and advancing Exemplary Forestry, the foundation helps the people of New England to sustain their way of life, protect forest wildlife habitat and ecosystem services and mitigate and adapt to climate change. In partnership with land owners, NEFF has conserved more than 1.1 million acres of forest since its founding in 1944, including one out of every three acres of forestland protected in New England since 1999. It also owns and manages more than 150 community forests across the region.
For more information, call (978) 952-6856 or visit www.newenglandforestry.org.