326 Acres Added to Androscoggin Riverlands Park (ME)

Turner, ME, 7/24/2007: The Maine Department of Conservation (DOC), The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Androscoggin Land Trust (ALT) have been working together for the past two years to add the 326-acre the Turner Cove property to the Androscoggin Riverlands Park. DOC Commissioner Patrick K. McGowan, speaking from the river’s edge in Turner, announced the project’s completion this afternoon. “Today’s achievement expands guaranteed public access to this wild and beautiful area along the Androscoggin,” said McGowan. “Only a few minutes from Lewiston-Auburn, this land will be permanently accessible to the public for hiking and skiing, hunting, biking, snowmobiling, and just enjoying the natural beauty of the river.”

The Maine DOC acquired the 2200-acre Androscoggin Riverlands Park in the early 1990s with support from the Land for Maine’s Future Program. Today, again, the Land for Maine’s Future Program has helped people connect with the land. The park is a popular area for a wide variety of recreational uses, including hiking, nature observations, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and ATV riding. The new acquisition is adjacent to the existing state land, and its location at the southern end of the park, along with its two miles of frontage along the Androscoggin River, make it an ideal addition to the existing park.

McGowan also pointed out that “approximately 50% of Maine’s population lives within 35 miles of the Turner Cove property. The DOC is pleased to provide the public with such a significant recreational area in this part of the state – one that is available for all recreational uses. We are grateful for the voters’ continuing support for the Land for Maine’s Future Program, which makes it possible for us to acquire areas like this that otherwise would be lost to development.”

The Turner Cove property is located in a section of the Androscoggin River known as Gulf Island Pond. While historically the river’s water quality has been poor, recent focus on increasing dissolved oxygen concentrations in the water and reducing chemical contamination is improving the water quality. As a result of these improvements, this section of the river is an increasingly popular area for small mouth bass fishing and a productive breeding area for waterfowl. Gulf Island Pond is the site of one of the most popular bass fishing tournaments in the state.

According to Wolfe Tone, TPL project manager, “This section of the river is seeing an increase in both the number of people using it for recreation, and seeking it as a place to build a home. The addition of the Turner Cove property to the state park will keep the shoreline pristine, thereby protecting the wild nature of the river for both people and wildlife.”

The purchase price for the property was $615,000. The Land for Maine’s Future Program awarded a grant of $372,000 towards the purchase. DOC contributed $100,000, and the Maine’s Department of Transportation allocated $143,000 from the state’s Recreational Trails Fund.

According to Jonathan LaBonte, president of the ALT, “The Turner Cove property is only two miles from Lewiston-Auburn, Maine’s second-largest metropolitan area. Its preservation will provide greatly improved access to the park’s southern end, and allow more users to enjoy the trail network, from which hikers and skiers can get great scenic viewpoints along the river. We’re also very excited that paddlers and boaters will now have two additional miles of shoreline that will forever be in its natural state.”

With the new addition, the Androscoggin Riverlands Park now comprises more than 2500 acres of unfragmented forest. The area is part of an almost 10,000-acre block of significant undeveloped wildlife habitat. It is a critical habitat for species such as moose, bald eagle, and osprey as well as an array of migratory bird species that depend on large forested blocks.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. In Maine, TPL has protected over 87,000 acres with projects ranging from city parks and pathways to coastal habitat and working farms and forests. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org.

The Department of Conservation is a natural resource agency whose bureaus oversee the management and stewardship of some of Maine’s most special places: 17 million acres of forestland, 10.4 million acres of unorganized territory, 49 parks and historic sites and more than 569,000 acres of public reserved land. Created in 1973, the Department of Conservation’s mission is to benefit the citizens, landowners, and users of the state’s natural resources by promoting stewardship and ensuring responsible balanced use of Maine’s land, forest, water, and mineral resources. For more information, visit DOC on the web at www.maine.gov/doc.

The Androscoggin Land Trust, founded in 1991 and based in Auburn, is a membership-supported conservation organization dedicated to protecting the important natural areas, traditional landscapes, and outdoor experience along the central Androscoggin River corridor. We currently conserve over 2,800 acres of land, including six miles of riverfront along the Androscoggin River, visit us on the web at www.androscogginlandtrust.org.