Katahdin Lake Project Reaches Halfway Mark (ME)

Portland, ME, 6/30/2006 -The Trust for Public Land (TPL), together with its project partners the Maine Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Baxter State Park Authority (BSPA), announced today that they have crossed a critical threshold in the effort to complete the Katahdin Lake Project. The fundraising campaign has officially crossed the halfway point with $7.1 million in gifts and pledges, and TPL has negotiated a 5-month extension of the option agreement to purchase the property from the Gardner Land Company.

If the partners successfully assemble the $14 million purchase price by the deadline, now December 15, 2006, approximately 4,000 acres near the lake will be added to Baxter State Park, and approximately 2,000 acres north of the lake will be acquired by the Maine Department of Conservation as permanent conservation land. The Katahdin Lake area, at the foot of Mount Katahdin, is the critical missing piece of Governor Percival Baxter’s vision for the park.

“Baxter State Park is one of Maine’s greatest gems,” Said Governor John Baldacci, Honorary Campaign Co-chair. “I can think of no better tribute to Governor Baxter’s generosity than to have the citizens of Maine rally together to complete his vision.”

The total project costs are $14,000,000. This includes land acquisition costs of $13,000,000 and project costs of $1,000,000. The project received a 90% endorsement by both houses of the Maine state legislature in April, and the legislature directed $2.5 million from the sale of public lots to the Katahdin Lake purchase.

TPL and its partners are seeking to raise the remaining funds through a private fundraising campaign, the first ever to benefit Baxter State Park. As of today, the partnership has assembled gifts and pledges totaling $7.1 million. Once the remaining $6.9 million is secured, TPL will buy Katahdin Lake and give it to the Baxter State Park Authority, with an additional 2,000 acres going to the Maine DOC.

“Katahdin Lake is a special place indeed,” said Buzz Caverly, who recently retired after 46 years of service in Baxter State Park. Caverly is also an Honorary Co-chair of the Katahdin Lake Campaign. “If we are successful in our efforts, park visitors will have the chance to experience something remarkable: to stand on the beach at the south end of the lake, look up at Baxter Peak, south basin, and the Turner range and hear nothing but the water lapping on the shore and the loons calling from around the bend.”

Patrick McGowan, Commissioner of the Maine DOC, observed that since 1921 these lands have been among the state’s highest conservation priorities and yet have never been available. “This current opportunity will never surface again,” he said. “This is the most important conservation project in Maine since Governor Baxter purchased the lands around Mt. Katahdin, and with this campaign, every citizen of Maine will have a chance to take part in making it happen.”

Sam Hodder, senior project manager for TPL, said, “We want to acknowledge the members of the Gardner family, who have demonstrated both patience and a remarkable commitment to this project. The fundraising goal to protect this spectacular site has always been ambitious, but now that we’re halfway there, we are thrilled to present this opportunity to the people of Maine.”

TPL and its partners have launched a new web site www.katahdinlakecampaign.org. Visitors can learn about the project, get the latest updates, see slides and maps, and make financial contributions to the campaign online with just the click of a mouse.

The Friends of Baxter State Park has endorsed the project and will be helping to lead the campaign for Katahdin Lake.

“This is a remarkable opportunity for people around the state to participate in a critical conservation effort,” said Charlie Jacobi, President of the Friends of Baxter State Park. “Our board of directors is thrilled to participate in this historic project and looks forward to helping conserve the last piece of Maine’s most spectacular landscape.”

During his lifetime Governor Baxter worked single-handedly to purchase and donate to the people of Maine the 28 separate parcels totaling more than 200,000 acres that comprise Baxter State Park, often working tirelessly for decades to secure a single parcel. Despite this historic achievement, Baxter was unable to acquire Katahdin Lake – a tract with pristine shoreline, old growth forests, and a view of the Mountain that has inspired generations of artists. The property includes hiking trails and paddling and fishing opportunities.

The Trust for Public Land is a national non-profit organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 46 states, including more than 330,000 acres in New England and 94,500 acres in the State of Maine. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission.

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.

The Baxter State Park Authority is the governing body of the Park. The Authority is guided by the provisions of the trust created by Governor Percival P. Baxter. These provisions include ensuring that the Park “shall forever be kept and remain in the Natural Wild State,” to provide recreational opportunities in accordance with trust provisions and to operate and maintain the Park for the use and enjoyment of Maine’s people. According to the donor’s wishes, most of the Park is managed as a sanctuary for beasts and birds and “Katahdin in all its glory forever shall remain the mountain of the People of Maine.”

The Friends of Baxter State Park is an independent citizen group working to preserve, support and enhance the wilderness character of Baxter State Park in the spirit of its founder, Governor Percival Baxter.