Katahdin Lake Added to Baxter State Park (ME)

Millinocket and Portland, Maine, 12/15/2006: – Governor John Baldacci today announced that Katahdin Lake, along with 4,000 acres that include old-growth forest, miles of pristine lake frontage, and spectacular views of Mount Katahdin, is now part of Baxter State Park. The land will be permanently preserved as a wilderness sanctuary, thereby fulfilling former Governor Percival P. Baxter’s original vision for the park he donated to the people of Maine.

Yesterday, The Trust for Public Land, which negotiated the purchase agreement and led a $14 million private fundraising campaign, completed the purchase of the land from Gardner Land Company, and transferred the deed to the Baxter State Park Authority. An additional 2,000 acres north of the lake was included in the purchase. That land will be managed by the Maine Department of Conservation.

Governor Baldacci said, “We could not think of a better holiday gift for the people of Maine. In a way it is a gift to ourselves, as so many Mainers helped to make this dream a reality. For decades many people have been working to complete Percival Baxter’s vision, but to do so required an extraordinary effort. I am pleased that we have finally been able to deliver Katahdin Lake to the people of Maine, and to salute the conservation vision of Governor Baxter. May we continue to honor this vision, and regard today’s achievement as not an end, but another milestone on our journey to keep the special places in Maine special.”

Sam Hodder, Senior Project Manager at the Trust for Public Land, said, “This was a remarkable challenge and its completion is a credit to so many people. More than 1,000 individuals, foundations and corporations stepped forward to help complete Baxter’s map for Maine’s park in a remarkably short window of time. It has been inspiring to be a part of this project and to share this success with Governor Baldacci, Buzz Caverly, the Maine Legislature, the Baxter State Park Authority, The Friends of Baxter State Park, and all who care so much about this remarkable park.”

Buzz Caverly, the former park superintendent who co-chaired the fundraising campaign, led numerous trips to the lake during the past year, showing potential donors what their investment might preserve. Caverly said, “The purchase of the Katahdin Lake lands is the most extraordinary event in park history since1962, when Governor Baxter purchased his last 7,000 acres to bring the size of the park to over 200,000 acres. Until that time, and for the remainder of his life, he could not find a willing seller for the Katahdin Lake lands. Today, the final chapter of this book has been written, for his goal of 1921 has been achieved. This old ranger of 46 years is one happy camper. My sincere thanks and congratulations to all who participated in bringing this dream to reality.”

Stephen Rowe, chairman of the Baxter Park Authority, said, “For decades, Maine people have enjoyed the great gift made to them by Percival Baxter. Today, Maine people and those who love Baxter State Park have given the former governor a gift in return, by completing his vision for a great state park. With its great fishing and spectacular views of Mt. Katahdin, I’m sure Katahdin Lake will soon become a ‘must-see’ part of Baxter State Park.”

Patrick McGowan, Commissioner of the Department of Conservation, said, “The $14 million raised this past year is the largest amount of money raised in the shortest amount of time for any conservation acquisition in the state – we went from zero to $14 million in 14 months. This success was made possible by a grassroots outpouring of support, and our heartfelt thanks go out to all those donors. We are also deeply grateful to the Trust for Public Land for their tireless efforts on behalf of Katahdin Lake, which had eluded the state for so many years. The leadership shown by Governor Baldacci, the Maine Legislature and folks like Buzz Caverly made this an easier fundraising campaign than could have been imagined.”

In the final two weeks of the campaign, 200 new donors stepped forward with over $2 million in contributions, bringing the total number of contributors to 1,022. Major corporate donors to the project included LL Bean, Tom’s of Maine, Poland Spring/Nestle Waters, and the Camden National Corporation. Major foundation donors included the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, the Sweet Water Trust, the Butler Conservation Fund, the Davis Conservation Foundation, the Horizon Foundation, the J.M. Hopwood Charitable Trust, the Newcastle Foundation, the Focus Foundation, the Merck Family Fund, and two anonymous foundations. In addition, a group of noted landscape artists donated the proceeds of Katahdin lake paintings to the preservation effort.

Hodder, of the Trust for Public Land, noted that hundreds of individual donors sent checks ranging from two to seven figures. Donations came from as far away as Alaska, but the bulk of the private money raised (57%) came from full time Maine residents.

Judy Cook, 58, of Brunswick, is a lifelong Maine resident who contributed $100. She said, “I love camping and hiking at Baxter State Park. I think it’s wonderful that soon I’ll be able to hike in to Katahdin Lake and photograph that view of Mount Katahdin.”