Forest Legacy Funds for Tumbledown Mt. (ME)

WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/31/02- The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization that protects land for public enjoyment, today praised the administration of President George W. Bush for releasing $1 million from the federal Forest Legacy Program, which will be used to conserve 11,800 acres at Tumbledown Mountain in western Maine, part of a larger effort to protect 30,000 acres surrounding Tumbledown Mountain and Mt. Blue State Park.

“The release of this funding comes at a critical juncture, and without it the entire conservation project would be at risk. We applaud President Bush for making it happen and ensuring the protection of one of Maine’s most popular mountaintops,” said Alan Front, TPL Senior Vice President. “We are also grateful to the entire Maine Congressional delegation and Governor Angus King for their long-standing and steadfast support for the Mt. Blue/Tumbledown initiative, and to the USDA Forest Service for recommending Forest Legacy Program funding for this outstanding conservation project,” said Front.

“By helping communities protect their forests and ensure continued public enjoyment of these resources, the Forest Legacy Program encourages effective conservation partnerships among private landowners and the public,” said James L. Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “We are pleased to have approved these funds for a project as important and broadly supported as Tumbledown Mountain in Maine.”

“Tumbledown is a wonderful place, and I am delighted that this funding ensures that future generations will be able to enjoy it. It wouldn’t have happened without the strong support of the Bush Administration and Maine’s Congressional delegation,” said Governor Angus S. King, Jr. “With $1.15 million in funding also approved this week by the Land for Maine’s Future Program, Tumbledown is a marvelous example of federal, state, and private cooperation on a first-class land conservation project.”

The funds released today will go towards the conservation of 11,800 acres on Tumbledown Mountain, currently owned by the Hancock Land Company, a Maine-based sixth-generation family owned timber company. To assist in the conservation effort at Tumbledown Mountain, Hancock Land Company purchased the land on December 31, 2001 from the previous owner, Hancock Timber Resource Group, a Boston-based timber investment company.

With help from TPL, the Maine Department of Conservation has negotiated an agreement to purchase 4,000 acres of this land from Hancock Land Company as an addition to the Bureau of Parks and Land’s conservation holdings. In addition, the state plans to purchase a conservation easement over the remaining 7,800 acres, prohibiting development and mandating sustainable forestry practices.

The total cost of these purchases will be determined by an independent appraisal, but the $1 million released today, combined with $1.2 million already awarded by the Forest Legacy program, will go a long way towards making the project possible. Additionally, this week the Land for Maine’s Future Program announced its award of $1.15 million for the Tumbledown project, as one of the 25 land conservation projects that the state program will fund in 2002. A $50 million bond issue approved by the Maine Legislature and Maine voters in 1999 provides funding for this and other projects.

The Tumbledown Mountain/Mt. Blue State Park area is in the state’s western mountains and has long been prized for scenic beauty, recreation, natural resources 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 and to raise private, state, and federal funding for the effort. To supplement the public funds already awarded for the Tumbledown project, the Alliance is working with TPL to raise funds from private supporters.

This project is part of a larger joint effort between the Maine Department of Conservation, the Trust for Public Land and the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance to conserve approximately 30,000 acres in the region. Conservation priorities include mountaintops, popular recreation trails, and habitat for declining wildlife species, such as the peregrine falcon, Bicknell’s thrush, and spring salamander. Earlier this month, TPL and the Department of Conservation announced the addition of 2,468 acres to Mt. Blue State Park, the first purchase completed as part of the Tumbledown Mountain/Mt. Blue State Park initiative.

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. Across the nation, TPL has helped protect more than 1.2 million acres, including almost 30,000 acres in Maine.