Significant Portion of Windham's Clark Farm Protected

March 15, 2011

217 acres of the Clark Farm in Windham, Maine has been permanently protected for farming and recreational access, the Clark Family, The Trust for Public Land, Maine Farmland Trust, and the Windham Land Trust announced today.

The Portland, Maine office of The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, has been working with Maine Farmland Trust and the local Windham Land Trust to conserve Clark Farm since 2008, and has secured funding to purchase 217 acres of the farm and an agricultural conservation easement on that land. The property has been conveyed to the Maine Farmland Trust (MFT), which will seek to sell the land to a new farmer. Windham Land Trust (WLT) will hold the easement on the land until MFT finds a farmer to purchase the land, after which MFT will take over the easement.

"Clark Farm and Forest is a terrific conservation resource for both creating new farming opportunities near Portland and public access for fishing and hiking along the Pleasant River," said Wolfe Tone, TPL's Maine state director. "We're proud to have partnered with Maine Farmland Trust and Windham Land Trust to achieve this important conservation success, and grateful to Maine for their seminal Land for Maine's Future program, without which this success would not have been possible."

"The plan is to get the land into the hands of a farmer as soon as possible. Now that the property has been preserved with an easement, it will sell at its value as farmland, rather than its value as developable land. This means the land is far more affordable," said John Piotti, MFT's executive director.

According to Piotti, not only is this project preserving some good farmland, but it's also enabling a farmer to buy farmland in Windham. "In many communities outside Portland, farmers simply cannot afford to compete with developers on land prices," explained Piotti. "That's exactly why we need projects like this, which preserve farmland and then sell it to farmers."

MFT expects to sell the Clark property to a new farmer within two months. This represents the twelfth project MFT has pursued under its Buy-Protect-Sell program.

The land also creates an immediate link in the Windham Land Trust's vision for a protective corridor along the Black Brook, which bi-sects the property. Access to this portion will come from the Black Brook Preserve to the north, and Mountain Division Trail to the west.

"The Town of Windham has rich agricultural heritage, and the Windham Land Trust is so pleased at the success of this project to protect our working farmland, create a new farming opportunity, and create a great opportunity for people to connect with the Pleasant River," said Dennis Hawkes of the Windham Land Trust. "This success is only possible because of the Clark's commitment to seeing their land protected and the combined talents of the project partners and our state and federal partners to see this project through to the end. This project represents an investment in Windham's future, and together we've protected one of the most beautiful places in Windham for all to enjoy."

Funding for the $230,000 purchase price of the land included $145,000 from MFT's Buy-Protect-Sell program, and $85,000 raised from private contributions by TPL. Funding for the $1.07 million agricultural conservation easement included $535,000 from the Land for Maine's Future program and a $535,000 federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program award.

"For years the Clark family has done its part in keeping this farm going, protecting the prime farmland soils on the farm, and make farmland available for future farmers in Windham. The conservation of important agricultural soils, preservation of agricultural and natural resource based businesses, and maintenance of wildlife habitat and open space are important to Maine people and consistent with LMF's mission," said Don Marean, Chairman, Land for Maine's Future Board.

Larry and Ann Clark, the landowners: "The Clark family has shared the vision of protecting our land along the Pleasant River and keeping the farm soils in production for many years. We would like to thank all of the far sighted people who have supported and worked on this project over the last few years; especially those with Windham Land Trust, The Trust for Public Land, Maine Farmland Trust, and the Land for Maine's Future program."

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL has conserved nearly 3 million acres of land, and in Maine, TPL has protected more than 122,000 acres with projects ranging from city parks and pathways to coastal habitat and working farms and forests. TPL depends on the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations.

Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) Established in 1999, Maine Farmland Trust is Maine's only statewide land trust focused exclusively on farmland and whose mission to protect and preserve Maine's farmland, keep agricultural lands working, and support the future of farming in Maine MFT works with landowners, land trusts, farm groups, towns and state agencies, to identify and preserve valuable agricultural land, so that it will forever remain available for agriculture. Visit www.mainefarmlandtrust.org.

The Windham Land Trust (WLT) Founded in 2000, WLT's mission is to conserve, protect, and preserve the natural resources of the Town of Windham, Maine and surrounding area. Visit www.thewindhamlandtrust.org.

The Land for Maine's Future Program (LMF) Land for Maine's Future was created in 1987 in response to concerns over the loss of critical natural area, wildlife habitat and farmland along with traditional access to undeveloped lands for hunting fishing and outdoor recreation. To date, the Land for Maine's Future Programhas protected over 532,000 acres of Maine's best recreational and natural areas along with 8,013 acres of farmland. The program also seeks to protect farmlands through the purchase of development rights and public access to water for fishing boating and commercial marine activities. Working with other state agencies and numerous local governments and charitable nonprofit groups, the Land for Maine's Future Board adheres to a "willing seller only" policy. To learn more visit http://www.state.me.us/spo/lmf