12,000 Acres Saved at Tumbledown Mt. (ME)

AUGUSTA, Maine, 12/9/02 Governor Angus S. King, Jr. and Maine’s Congressional delegation announced today the permanent conservation of just over 11,600 acres, including the peak of Tumbledown Mountain, in western Maine. This acquisition is part of a larger effort spearheaded by the Maine Department of Conservation (DOC), the Trust for Public Land (TPL), and the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance to conserve approximately 30,000 acres in the region.

The project was made possible by a coalition of local, state, federal, and private organizations and officials working together to raise just over $3.4 million. Funding included $2.1 million from the federal Forest Legacy Program, secured by the Maine congressional delegation, $1.15 million from the Land for Maine’s Future Program, and just over $150,000 raised by the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance and TPL from more than 300 private contributors.

“Today, nearly 12,000 acres of forestland, including popular hiking trails up Tumbledown Mountain and a pristine alpine pond at its summit, have been protected forever,” said Governor Angus S. King, Jr. “Maine’s congressional delegation played a critical role by securing federal funding for this purchase. In addition, I would like to highlight the critical funding provided by the Land for Maine’s Future Program, the leadership of the Department of Conservation in spearheading this effort, and the partnership of many private organizations and supporters. Maine citizens will benefit for generations from the legacy we are leaving today.”

“From its inception, the protection of Tumbledown has been guided by a shared vision for conserving and managing Maine’s scenic and unique forestland, which is why I fought so hard to secure the federal funding that, in part, makes this announcement possible,” said U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), who with Senator Collins spearheaded efforts to secure $2.1 million in federal funding for the Tumbledown project. “Today’s accomplishment is a credit to the many groups and individuals who have worked so tirelessly to see this conservation project come to fruition in a way that ensures both public access and continued sustainable forestry. Today’s announcement also speaks to the importance of the federal Forest Legacy Program, which has become an essential tool in fostering the kind of federal-state-private partnership that has made conservation of Tumbledown possible.”

“The success of this terrific project demonstrates how conservation interests and private companies can work together with remarkable results. By participating in the long-term protection of Tumbledown Mountain, Hancock Land Company is demonstrating its reputation as a leader in sustainable forestry,” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine). “It is also a wonderful example of federal-state-private partnerships, through the Forest Legacy Program, the Land For Maine’s Future Program, and private fundraising.”

“The completion of this portion of the Tumbledown project will ensure continued public access to Maine’s western mountains,” said U.S. Representative John Baldacci (D-Maine). “This project is the kind of public-private partnership envisioned by Congress under the Forest Legacy Program and by the State through Land for Maine’s Future. These efforts are providing important benefits for Maine residents, as well as for visitors to our state and future generations.”

“The success of the Tumbledown Mountain conservation project is an outstanding demonstration of cooperative effort by government at all levels, private landowners, public interest groups, and dedicated individuals,” U.S. Representative Tom Allen (D-Maine) said. “The federal funding has been an important catalyst to this joint effort. As a result, another spectacular piece of the Maine outdoors will be protected in perpetuity so that future generations will enjoy the scenic beauty, natural wonders, and recreation opportunities we value so highly.”

The purchase announced today includes two phases. First, DOC purchased nearly 3,800 acres, including the 3,068-foot summit of Tumbledown Mountain, from Hancock Land Company. Second, DOC purchased a conservation easement over roughly 7,800 acres, permanently prohibiting development, guaranteeing public access, and ensuring sustainable forestry practices. This land will continue to be owned and managed by Hancock Land Company, a Maine-based sixth-generation family owned timber company.

The Tumbledown project was facilitated by the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit conservation organization, which negotiated with the landowner and helped raise private funding for the project. “We applaud Governor King and the Congressional delegation for their commitment to protecting Maine’s natural treasures—both by funding this important purchase and by supporting the Forest Legacy Program and the Land for Maine’s Future Program more generally,” said TPL regional director Whitney Hatch.

“Without the wholehearted and unstinting efforts of Maine’s congressional delegation, Governor King, the Maine Department of Conservation, the Trust for Public Land, and the members of the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance we would not be able to celebrate this conservation achievement today,” said Bob Kimber of the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance. “And that same partnership will be crucial as we move ahead in the coming months to complete protection of Tumbledown Mountain.”

“This announcement is especially sweet because of all the hard work and time put into it by the many parties involved. We worked together creatively to overcome obstacles and the end result is a fabulous legacy for the people of Maine,” said Matt Hancock, president of the Hancock Land Company. “As a timberland owner, I appreciate the important role conservation easements play in enabling landholders to achieve their stewardship goals and also meet the economic demands of their businesses. Our family is very pleased to have found an avenue that allowed us to do both.”

To assist in the conservation effort at Tumbledown Mountain, Hancock Land Company worked with TPL to purchase the land in December 2001 from the previous owner, Hancock Timber Resource Group, a Boston-based timber investment company.

The Tumbledown Mountain/Mt. Blue State Park area has long been prized for its scenic beauty, opportunities for recreation, wildlife habitat, and productive forest. Two years ago, in response to large-scale changes in ownership and management practices in the region, five organizations – the Webb Lake Association, Friends of Maine State Parks, Western Maine Audubon Society, Foothills Land Conservancy, and Appalachian Mountain Club – formed the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance to promote a conservation vision for the region.

The Maine Department of Conservation, TPL, and the Alliance have been working together since then to conserve 30,000 acres of high-priority conservation land, including mountaintops, popular recreation trails, and habitat for declining wildlife species like the peregrine falcon, Bicknell’s thrush, and spring salamander.

The coalition has already completed several acquisitions, including 1) adding 2,468 acres to Mount Blue State Park in 2001, including Hedgehog Hill and nearly ten miles of the popular Multiuse Trail, 2) adding 325 acres to Mount Blue State Park’s Webb Lake unit in 2002, providing the potential for expanding camping adjacent to the existing campground, and 3) conserving approximately 455 acres adjacent to Mount Blue State Park in 2002, including a key snowmobile corridor and access to a scenic stretch of East Brook.

With today’s announcement of the Tumbledown Mountain purchase, the coalition has successfully conserved approximately 15,000 acres. In addition, TPL, DOC, and Hancock Land are in the final stages of placing conservation easements on nearly 4,200 acres of land adjacent to Mount Blue State Park.

Note to editors: For high-resolution images of the property, contact Erin Rowland at (617) 367-6200 x 321