High Peaks Forest Land Protected for Jobs and Recreation

A 5,774-acre forested property in Franklin County has been permanently protected, ensuring that it will continue to produce timber and logging jobs and will be available for recreation such as snowmobiling, fishing, hiking, and hunting, The Trust for Public Land announced today.

“Keeping forests as forests benefits all of us by safeguarding recreation and access important to Mainers, and as a source of timber to fuel the state’s economy,” said Wolfe Tone, Maine State Director for The Trust for Public Land.

The property is the largest remaining working forest parcel in Madrid Township and had been under threat of potential subdivision and development. It includes a 6.4-mile section of snowmobile routes 84 and 89, part of Maine’s Interconnected Trail System. Protection of the property has long been sought by local snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) clubs, guides and hunters. Its protection creates a 77,000 acre block of conserved land in the High Peaks.

“This project is crucially important to public access in the High Peaks that will protect local investment in the Fly Rod Crosby Trail, Moose Loop ATV trail, and Black Fly Loop snowmobile trail,” said Lloyd Griscom a Director of the High Peaks Alliance.

“Protection of Orbeton Stream will ensure that a vital snowmobile and ATV corridor that connects the regions communities and businesses will continue to be open to the public forever. These trails are critical to the economic development of these towns,” said Don Whittemore, member of the North Franklin Snowmobile Club and Narrow Gauge Riders ATV Club.

The Orbeton Stream property is owned and managed for timber by Linkletter Timberlands, a local family-owned company, which uses the wood to help supply its pellet mill, supporting the company’s eighty employees. The company also supplies fiber to all major mills in Franklin County. Linkletter sold the state of Maine a conservation easement on the property, which means Linkletter will continue to own and manage it, but it can never be subdivided or developed.

The easement cost $1.6 million, with $1.28 million of the money coming from the USDA’s Forest Legacy Program administered by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. The Forest legacy Program is funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund and gets its money from offshore oil and gas revenue. Another $150,000 was from the Land for Maine’s Future Program and additional money was provided by the Open Space Institute, Wildlife Conservation Society, Fields Pond Foundation, Hopwood Charitable Trust, John Sage Foundation, and many generous private donors.

“We’re so pleased to work with the State of Maine and our many partners to make sure these woods stay privately-owned and managed,” said Tony Ferguson, director of the Forest Service Northeastern Area. “The state remains a Forest Legacy Program leader with 716,000 acres protected, 85% of which remain in private hands. That ensures public access and benefits.”

U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME), U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-1), former Senator Olympia Snowe (R) and former Congressman Mike Michaud (D-2), supported this project and are strong supporters of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Orbeton Stream is home to Atlantic salmon. Seven years ago, because of restoration work by the Maine Department of Marine Resources, salmon reared in the Orbeton watershed returned from the North Atlantic Ocean for the first time in more than 150 years.