The Maine Way

June 24, 2011

Sometimes the completion of a conservation project marks not only an ending but a beginning. In 2006, Maine residents celebrated the addition of Katahdin Lake and 4,000 surrounding acres to Baxter State Park, realizing a dream cherished by former Maine governor Percival Baxter, the park's founder and namesake. But almost immediately on completing the project, TPL was invited into a broader regional dialogue about the land around the park and how its many uses can be preserved.

For more than a century, the forests around Millinocket-the region's largest community-have supplied timber to local mills and recreation for tourists and locals alike. But as a result of economic changes, forests have changed hands in recent years, prompting concern that traditional forest uses will be lost. 

Ongoing discussions have involved TPL, officials from Millinocket and the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, local conservationists and sporting groups, and landowners including Roxanne Quimby, founder of the Burt's Bees cosmetic empire. Quimby has a reputation as a conservationist, and her nonprofit foundation, Elliotsville Plantation Incorporated, has amassed more than 100,000 acres in Maine.

This land includes several parcels north of Millinocket and east of
Baxter State Park that have long been used for hunting and motorized
travel on all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles-uses Quimby had blocked
in the past. Snowmobile groups and local merchants have been anxious to
reopen this land, which contains essential links in the state's
Interconnected Trail System, a snowmobile network that draws tens of
thousands of visitors to the northern part of the state each year.  

This year, in the latest of an elaborate set of TPL-enabled land transactions that emerged from the regional discussion, key areas have been reopened to recreation.  In exchange for land made available for purchase elsewhere in the region, Roxanne Quimby sold TPL more than 5,000 acres north of Millinocket, along with an easement that prevents development and permits recreation on an additional 2,800 acres. The state will own the land and hold the easement. In addition to supporting recreation, the 5,000-acre state parcel will be used as working forest. 

Funding for the acquisition and easement came from the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program-secured with the support of U.S. senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Congressman Michael Michaud-a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant, and the state's Land for Maine's Future program. 

Land&People Spring/Summer 2011