The Nature Conservancy: Land Purchase Permanently Preserves 13,500 Acres in Lower Eastern Maine

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September 16, 2021

The Nature Conservancy and Partners Protect Valuable Habitat North of Tunk Mountain in the Narraguagus River Watershed

The Nature Conservancy in Maine (TNC) announced today that it has acquired fee ownership of the Spring River-Narraguagus Forest property of approximately 13,500 acres in Hancock County, west of Cherryfield.

Conserving this property will help maintain a forest connection between the Downeast Coast and the woods of northern Maine, protecting the habitat of large-scale wildlife and allowing species to move in response to a changing climate. The property includes 3.75 miles of shoreline on Lake Narraguagus, nearly completing the conservation of the Spring River headwater lake shoreline, as well as two miles of frontage on the north side of Spring River, seven miles of frontage on the branch. west of the Narraguagus River, and 46 miles of inland tributary streams. This land is important as a buffer zone for valuable aquatic habitat that supports the native brook trout fishery and contributes important habitat for Atlantic salmon.

These lands are part of the traditional territory of the Wabanaki people and they retain cultural significance for the Wabanaki today. TNC respectfully recognizes these Dawn Peoples – past, present and future – and their sacred connection to these lands and waters.

The acquisition expands TNC’s 9,700-acre Spring River reserve, which was acquired in 2005, to a total of approximately 23,500 acres. TNC intends to manage the majority of the forest as an ecological reserve, where the forest is shaped by natural processes such as wind, ice and other weather events. TNC’s Spring River Reserve is also directly adjacent to the ecological reserve maintained by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands on part of the Donnell Pond unit of reserved public lands.

“This announcement is important news for biodiversity in the face of climate change,” said Mark Berry, forestry program director for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “It expands an ecological reserve to a size that can support the movement of plants and animals, helping to maintain a critical pathway for species to move through the landscape between the Downeast Coast and northern Maine. It will also benefit important aquatic habitat in the Narraguagus River. watershed. “

Beyond providing valuable wildlife habitat, ecological reserves are important for scientists studying forest growth and how they respond, in the absence of timber harvesting, to challenges such as climate change, forest pests, disease and air pollution. Maintaining the carbon stored in this mature forest and allowing trees to continue to extract carbon from the atmosphere also benefits the climate (learn more about the role of Maine’s forests as a natural climate solution).

This acquisition is part of TNC’s larger strategy to combat the effects of climate change through conservation. Wildlife in North America shift their ranges an average of 11 miles north and 36 feet in elevation every decade. Many species are approaching – or have already reached – the limit where they can go to find hospitable climates. Research by TNC and its partners also shows that nearly 60 percent of U.S. land and waters are fragmented by human development, preventing species from finding new, more hospitable habitat.

TNC has used innovative science to identify a network of special places across the United States that can withstand climate impacts and provide safe havens where species can live and thrive. These refuges contain unique features, such as steep slopes, various types of soil, and wetlands. In addition, TNC has mapped the connected ecosystems that are expected to be important for the movement of plants and animals as climate change alters the landscape. This analysis is one of the main drivers of TNC’s strategic land conservation efforts.

The acquisition completes a collaborative effort between The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT), New England Forestry Foundation, Blue Hill Heritage Trust and Downeast Salmon Federation which has now conserved over 17,000 acres of forest land to protect wildlife. habitat, ensure future recreational access and support the economies of neighboring coastal communities. The Conservation Fund acquired this property and two other nearby properties in 2018 and held them temporarily, giving TNC, Blue Hill Heritage Trust and the New England Forestry Foundation the time and opportunity to raise funds for the purchases. . Federal grants have been received under competitive programs funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the North American Wetland Conservation Act.

“Conservation like this is only possible through great partnerships,” said Kate Dempsey, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “The Conservation Fund, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, as well as private foundations and individuals have all played a key role in this success. This project illustrates the kind of innovative collaboration we need to make critical progress in the face of climate change. “

“This unique Maine Coastal Forest Partnership brings together every organization to protect at-risk forests from fragmentation and development,” said Tom Duffus, vice president of the Conservation Fund. “We are grateful to have been a part of this effort over the past several years as we own and manage the forest. Now owned by TNC, its resources such as upland forests, waterways and Atlantic salmon habitat will continue to support both the environment and economic benefits for generations.

“We are proud to partner with The Nature Conservancy on this project, and the Rivers Initiative more broadly to help connect coastal rivers to the sea,” said Tim Glidden, Chairman of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. “This work is improving fish passage and land quality along the shoreline, creating more recreational opportunities and restoring ecosystems essential to the sustainability of Maine’s fishing industry – it’s all part of our efforts to build resilience in the face of climate change. “

The property will be open to all for uses such as birding, hunting and fishing. Visitors should be aware that recreational infrastructure is limited, roads are seasonal, and overnight camping and pets are not permitted in order to protect natural processes and wildlife.

About The Nature Conservancy in Maine

Since the chapter’s founding in 1956, The Nature Conservancy has helped protect over 1.7 million acres in Maine. Our forestry program aims to conserve forests that are essential to Maine’s economy and quality of life and of global ecological significance and carbon sequestration in a changing climate. Learn more about nature.org/maine. For more information on the Spring River-Narraguagus Forest, contact Marc Berry, 207-607-4856.

About the Conservation Fund

At the Conservation Fund, we do conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Leading the way in effectiveness and efficiency, we’ve worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect nearly 8.5 million acres of land, including over 465,000 acres in Maine. Learn more about www.conservationfund.org.

About the Maine Coast Heritage Trust

MCHT is a dynamic and multifaceted organization with initiatives ranging from preserving coastal access for communities to reconnecting waterways and improving coastal resilience to climate change. A leader in Maine’s land conservation efforts since 1970, MCHT maintains a growing network of nearly 150 free and open coastal and island reserves and leads the 80-member Maine Land Trust Network to ensure that conservation of land benefits all communities in Maine. Learn more about www.mcht.org.


This press release was produced by Nature conservation. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.


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