Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Aerial view of Moosehead region conservation easement.
“We’ve always seen this as a long-term plan,” Muzzy said.
In Greenville, a local real estate broker said he thought current land values would make it difficult for Plum Creek, or any large developer, to recover the cost of putting in roads and utilities.
Rodney Folsom, co-owner of Folsom Realty Group, said real estate values in the area had fallen to levels last seen in 2002. Several area lakefront lots selling for $200,000 in 2007, recently sold for $65,000, he said.
“We’re still coming out of a recession,” Folsom said. “There’s not much activity. I think it will be a few more years.”
Promoting the conservation easement can help the Greenville area recover from the recession, according to John Simko, who served as town manager when the concept plan was hammered out.
Greenville’s economy has long relied on forest products and tourism. Both sectors suffered during the economic downturn, pushing the jobless rate in Piscataquis County to over 11 percent, well above the statewide average of 7.2 percent. With the land base secure for recreational access, businesses can do more to publicize the availability of the area’s resources, Simko said.
“This land base has had an uncertain future for many generations,” he said. “This conservation easement will make possible investment in much-needed permanent, outdoor recreational infrastructure, such as trails for hiking, biking and snowmobiling, all of which will enhance the outdoor experience for current and future visitors.”
The 363,000-acre easement will be held by the Forest Society of Maine. It allows forestry that meets the standards of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and other conservation guidelines.
The terms of the easement guarantee public access for traditional recreational uses, including: hunting, fishing, camping at designated sites, canoeing, and cross-country skiing. The easement also protects access to 160 miles of trails that are used by hikers and snowmobilers. The easement conserves habitat for dozens of protected fish and wildlife species, as well as 30 sites that have been identified as habitat for rare and endangered plants. The conserved area includes 200 miles of lakeshore, and includes lands near Moosehead – Maine’s largest lake and the second-largest in New England – as well as 68 other lakes and ponds.
The new easement provides a bridge between existing conservation lands in the Moosehead region, including 44,000 acres that have recently been protected. They include 15,000 acres that The Nature Conservancy and the State of Maine have purchased, known as the Moose River Reserve. The reserve includes portions of Number 5 Bog and lands that provide access to the famous Moose River Bow Trip paddling route.
More than 29,500 acres, including more than 10 remote ponds near the Appalachian Trail’s 100-Mile Wilderness has been conserved by the Appalachian Mountain Club.
“I want to thank Plum Creek and congratulate them and partners Forest Society of Maine and The Nature Conservancy for ensuring that traditional recreational access will continue for generations on these private timberlands,” said Gary Lamb, town manager in Greenville. “Too often ,we take such access for granted. It can be gone with the stroke of a pen with locked gates to follow.”
Staff Writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or firstname.lastname@example.org