Momentum to acquire and create the Lakeville Expansion of the Downeast Lakes Community Forest increases as project is ranked first in the nation by the U.S. Forest Service

The Trust for Public Land and the Downeast Lakes Land Trust (DLLT), today announced that the U.S. Forest Service ranked the Lakeville Expansion project of the Downeast Lakes Community Forest first out of 22 applications from across the country to the Community Forest and Open Space Program. 

“Community Forests, an idea which originated in New England, are truly town halls in the woods,” said Betsy Cook, Maine Program Director for The Trust for Public Land, “This forest will be a vital part of the Downeast Lakes region, and we rely on surrounding communities’ support and collaboration to make it a reality. Thank you to the U.S. Forest Service for its recognition of the importance of this project for the people of Downeast Maine.” 

Local communities, Downeast Lakes Land Trust, and The Trust for Public Land are working to protect 2,025 acres to create the Lakeville Expansion of the Downeast Lakes Community Forest – community-managed open space to be shared by all residents and visitors. The property, located on Lower Sysladobsis Lake, will be a valuable resource for DLLT’s educational program, which provides free outdoor education to over 500 local students each year.  In addition, it will bolster the area’s outdoor recreation and forest products economies, protect important working forest land and wildlife habitat, and improve access to a close-to-home outdoor space for all. 

Jay Petri, a 5th generation landowner on Lower Sysladobsis Lake and member of DLLT’s Campaign Committee for the projcet remarked, “We are excited about the success that the Trust For Public Land and Downeast Lakes Land Trust has had to date. Our collective goal is to create a 2,000 acre community forest for people, wildlife, and nature with shore frontage on Sysladobsis and Horseshoe Lakes. We believe that the community forest will help grow the local economy with employment and use of the community forest resources. It is with excitement and pleasure that our goal of conservation and good management is in sight. This is like watching the sun rise over the project’s magnificent landscape.”  

The U.S. Forest Service provided a $600,000 grant through the Community Forest and Open Space Program, bringing the community even closer to its goal to acquire the Lakeville property. But the work is not yet done, and the Lakeville community will be integral in making this project a reality.  

This support from the U.S. Forest Service would not have been possible without Maine’s exceptional congressional champions who advocated for the project and have continued to be supporters of Maine’s outdoors and public lands. 

“By linking together existing conserved land, the Lakeville Town Forest project will support broader conservation efforts in downeast Maine while adding much-needed access points to the Downeast Lakes Community Forest,” said U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Congressman Jared Golden.  “The 2,025-acre project will help protect critical wildlife habitat and lake shoreline, while supporting sustainable timber management and outdoor recreation, the region’s two largest industries.” 

The Trust for Public Land hopes to acquire the land in 2021 and then immediately transfer it to Downeast Lakes Land Trust for permanent ownership as a part of the existing Downeast Lakes Community Forest, one of the largest of its kind in the nation.  This acquisition ensures local leadership in land management and stewardship decisions, giving local residents the opportunity to guide the future of the forests and lakes surrounding their communities.  

Steve and Nancy Norris, owners of the Pines Lodge & Cabins on Sysladobsis Lake remarked, “It’s with heightened anticipation that The Pines Lodge looks forward to the addition of The Lakeville Expansion to compliment the wonderful wilderness experience available to all around Sysladobsis Lake. We are one of very few businesses who provide public access to one of Maine’s hidden gems and believe this project will assure outdoor enthusiasts a respite to enjoy nature at its finest.” 



About The Trust for Public Land: 

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit


About Downeast Lakes Land Trust: 

Founded in 2001 by local residents of Grand Lake Stream, Maine, the Downeast Lakes Land Trust contributes to the long-term economic and environmental well-being of the Downeast Lakes region through the conservation and exemplary management of its forests and waters.  DLLT sustainably manages the 55,678-acre Downeast Lakes Community Forest for wildlife habitat, sustainable forest products, and public recreation.  Please visit for more information, and to support our work.