Friday, May 24, 2013
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"We are very pleased to be acquiring the public recreational access rights provided by this easement," said Walt Whitcomb, commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry in a press release. "These lands support traditional uses, including hunting and fishing, and the easement also guarantees continuation of the primary ATV and snowmobile trails that cross the property."
The Downeast Lakes Land Trust partnered with the state to propose the project to the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Legacy Program and the Land for Maine's Future Program. The Forest Service selected the project as the No. 1 national forest conservation priority in 2011 and contributed more than $5.5 million to the easement's purchase. The LMF board also gave the project its top rating for 2011, committing $1.25 million to the purchase.
Additional funding is being provided by the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, the Open Space Institute, the Pew Charitable Trusts Northeast Land Trust Consortium and many other foundations, businesses and individuals.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins also issued a statement endorsing the project, saying: "The priceless assets protected here are vital to Maine's tourism. ... I admire the dedication of the people of Grand Lake Stream to conserve the natural resources that sustain their economy and support Maine's timber industry."
Staff Writer North Cairn can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Corrections: This story was revised at 11:05 a.m., Dec. 20, 2012, to state that the conservation easement was announced on Tuesday. The agreement, acquired primarily with federal and state money, provides access to and protection for 17 miles of shoreline on West Grand, Big, and Lower Oxbrook lakes, along with frontage on Big Musquash Stream.
The West Grand Lake Community Forest Project includes, in part, the $7.28 million purchase of an easement on the acreage by the state, with $5.5 million in federal funding from the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program, $1.25 million from the state's Land for Maine's Future board and some private funding. An agreement with the landowner, Lyme Timber Co. of Hanover, N.H., includes a provision giving the trust the option to purchase the acreage for $19 million within three years. The trust has already obtained $12 million, leaving about $7 million to be raised by 2015.