Governor Mills Announces 20 New Land for Maine’s Future Conservation Projects
Augusta, ME (STL.News) Governor Janet Mills announced 20 new Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) conservation projects across Maine that conserve lands and preserve public access to lakes, rivers, scenic views, and mountain vistas for Maine people.
With the selection of these projects, the Land for Maine’s Future Board has now approved a total of 25 new projects in the last year since Governor Mills and the Legislature reinvigorated the program with $40 million in new State funding through the biennial budget. Additional projects focused on conserving working lands are expected to receive funding later this year.
Of the 20 projects announced today, one-third of the applications came from municipalities – including Fryeburg, North Berwick, Owls Head, Portland, Searsmont, and Windham – for the conservation of recreation areas. Four projects – in Ellsworth, Fryeburg, Machiasport, and Oxford – are located adjacent to or near public schools, delivering opportunities for nature-based learning and outdoor recreation. These LMF projects are expected to leverage more than $8 million in matching Federal funds.
“Maine people value the outdoors, and each of these projects represents an exceptional opportunity for us to get outdoors and to protect public access for the enjoyment of generations to come,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I am proud that the State of Maine, thanks to my Administration and the Legislature, is once again partnering with towns across Maine to preserve our cherished lands and waters for Maine people.”
The 20 projects, which total $5.06 million and are often matched with private and municipal funding, are:
- East Windham Conservation Project: This 661-acre parcel in Windham in Cumberland County is a fee acquisition by the Town of Windham, supporting vital ecological functions, providing water access, and including scenic views of distant mountains in Maine’s most important densely populated region.
- Jockey Cap: This 15.6-acre parcel in Fryeburg in Oxford County is a fee acquisition by the Town of Fryeburg supporting low-impact recreational opportunities in the heart of downtown with panoramic views from the top of the dome.
- North Deering Conservation & Recreation Land: This 16-acre parcel in Portland in Cumberland County is a fee acquisition by the City of Portland, featuring urban open space and an existing informal urban trail network.
- Talking Brook Public Lands: This 156-acre parcel in New Gloucester in Cumberland County is a fee acquisition by the Bureau of Parks and Lands featuring an existing trail system between Portland and Lewiston/Auburn and will be combined with a separate 37-acre property to form the new Talking Brook Public Land Unit.
- Plaisted Preserve Expansion: This 7.14-acre parcel in Owls Head in Knox County is a fee acquisition by the Town of Owls Head to expand Plaisted Preserve and the existing trail system within a quarter-mile of the Owls Head village center.
- McLellan Property: This 63.9-acre parcel in Searsmont in Waldo County is a fee acquisition by the Town of Searsmont, creating trails and water access in the Searsmont village adjacent to municipal buildings and includes approximately 1,200 feet of Georges River frontage.
- Staples Woodlands: This 83.5-acre parcel in Oxford in Oxford County is a fee acquisition by the Western Foothills Land Trust located near schools and downtown Oxford and includes approximately 1,140 feet of river frontage, an important snowmobile trail juncture, and trails for hiking, snowshoeing, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.
- Whitney Forest: This 370-acre parcel in Ellsworth in Hancock County is a fee acquisition by Frenchman Bay Conservancy, featuring a trail network adjacent to Ellsworth High School and an existing bike trail.
- Bittner: This 165-acre in West Bath in Sagadahoc County is a fee acquisition by Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, featuring a network of multi-use trails and a large forest and wetland habitat block.
- Camp Gustin: This 95-acre parcel in Sabattus in Androscoggin County is a fee acquisition by Androscoggin Land Trust, featuring primitive camping and other low impact recreation opportunities as well as shoreline and wetland habitat abutting existing conservation land.
- Johnson Brook-Sisk: This 56-acre parcel in Kittery in York County is a fee acquisition by Kittery Land Trust that expands the Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea initiative and protects wetland and forested wildlife habitats.
- Thayer Brook Preserve: This 147-acre parcel in Gray in Cumberland County is a fee acquisition by Royal River Conservation Trust, includes important habitat for a species of special concern, extends trails, adds additional access to the existing Libby Hill Forest trail network, and protects a critical segment of the local snowmobile and ATV trail.
- Tondreau Project: This 57.2 parcel in Harpswell in Cumberland County is a fee acquisition by Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, protecting coastal water quality, a rare plant species and providing trail access in an area of the state receiving high development pressure.
- Bauneg Beg Mountain Recreation Area: This 61-acre project in North Berwick in York County is a fee acquisition by the Town of North Berwick in partnership with the Great Works Regional Land Trust and contains the highest summit of Bauneg Beg Mountain (866 ft.), completing conservation of the three Bauneg Beg Mountain summits and protecting a rare plant species.
- Kezar Corridor Lands-Patterson Hill: This 357-acre in Lovell in Oxford County is a fee acquisition by Greater Lovell Land Trust, featuring expansive mountain views from Patterson Hill, and includes part of the snowmobile and ATV recreational trail network, with plans to develop an alternative “pedestrian only” trail.
- Muddy River Forests: This 1,357-acre in Naples in Cumberland County includes easements held by Loon Echo Land Trust protecting large undeveloped habitat blocks in Cumberland County and the Portland Water District watershed.
- Porter Hills: This 596-acre parcel in Porter in Oxford County is a fee acquisition by Francis Small Heritage Trust featuring forest and wetland habitat, including rare plants and natural communities, and a network of trails accessing scenic mountain summits.
- Fort O’Brien Historic Site Addition: This 6-acre parcel in Machiasport in Washington County is a fee acquisition by the Bureau of Parks and Lands, expanding a state historic site that sees 6,000 – 7,000 visitors annually, adjacent to Machiasport elementary school.
- Great Pond Mountain Wildlands Expansion: This 501-acre parcel in Orland and Bucksport in Hancock County is a fee acquisition by Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust, expanding the existing 4,230-acre Great Pond Mountain Wildlands and including an undeveloped shoreline on the Dead River.
- Wallamatogus Mountain Community Forest: This 336-acre parcel in Penobscot in Hancock County is a fee acquisition by Blue Hill Heritage Trust, featuring the second-highest peak on the Blue Hill peninsula, great hiking combined with birding, blueberry picking, and hunting.
“Governor Mills rejuvenated the LMF program with $40 million, and all of us who enjoy the Maine outdoors benefit,”said Judy Camuso, Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “These projects continue to provide and protect access to Maine’s woods and waters, enhance and protect our fish and wildlife, and will provide generations with memories that will last a lifetime.”
“Expanding opportunities for residents and visitors to explore our beautiful state is both a need and a real benefit, as more people each year are discovering the joy of spending time outdoors,” said Amanda Beal, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “The Land for Maine’s Future program also provides a welcome opportunity for communities that want to protect lands that are important to them, ensuring they are available to enjoy now and for generations to come.”
“This round of funding provides vital protection for Maine’s open spaces from Kittery to Ellsworth,” said Pat Keliher, Commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources. “It also offers unique opportunity for recreation and education that can connect Mainers to our state’s remarkable natural resources.”
The Land for Maine’s Future Program is the State of Maine’s primary method of conserving land for its natural and recreational value. The program was established in 1987 when Maine citizens approved a bond to fund $35 million to purchase land and easements. The program’s priority is to conserve Maine landscape, recognizing that working lands and public access to these lands is critical to preserving Maine’s quality of life.
Since then, LMF has conserved nearly 604,000 acres of land, more than half of which – 333,425 acres – has have been working lands. This work includes 41 farms and 9,755 acres of farmlands and 26 commercial working waterfront properties, 1,272 miles of shorelines of rivers, lakes, and ponds, 58 miles of coastline, and 158 miles of former railroad corridors for recreational trails.
The fund was nearly depleted before the Governor’s and Legislature’s $40 million infusion. Now that it is replenished, LMF can continue its robust conservation efforts.