Mt. Blue/Tumbledown Conservation Celebrated (ME)

AUGUSTA, Maine, October 12, 2004: U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Governor John Baldacci and other federal, state and local officials, nonprofit groups and local residents gathered today to celebrate five years and almost 26,000 acres of conservation work at Mt Blue State Park and Tumbledown Mountain in western Maine.

Federal, state and private funds amassed since 1999 have enabled the state of Maine to protect 7,464 acres inside Mt. Blue as well as 18,311 acres on Tumbledown Mountain, including public hiking trails that lead to the peak.

The success of this conservation effort was made possible by a local, state, federal and private partnership that worked together to acquire 25,775 acres of fee and conservation easement land over the years, including $4.27 million in appropriations secured by the Maine Congressional delegation from the USDA Forest Legacy Program, grants totaling $2.61 million from the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) Program, a $370,000 grant to the state from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, $100,000 from other state funds and over $500,000 from private donations.

With these funds, the coalition has completed several important acquisitions, including:
* Adding 2,468 acres to Mount Blue State Park in 2001, including Hedgehog Hill and nearly ten miles of the popular Multiuse Trail.
* Protecting 3,288 acres of working forest land around Mount Blue in 2002.
* Adding 376 acres to Mount Blue State Park’s Webb Lake unit in 2002, providing the potential to expand camping adjacent to the existing campground.
* Conserving approximately 421 acres adjacent to Mount Blue State Park in 2002, including a key snowmobile corridor and access to a scenic stretch of East Brook.
* Conserving 910 acres of working forest through an easement on the northwest side of Mount Blue State Park in the summer of 2002.
* Protecting more than 11,610 acres, including the summit of Tumbledown Mountain and Tumbledown Pond, in December 2002.
* Protecting 6,702 acres that includes trails leading to the top of Tumbledown Mountain and including the summits of Little Jackson, Jackson and Blueberry Mountains, in August 2004.

The Tumbledown project has been a priority for the Maine Department of Conservation since 1999 and has strongly benefited from the vision and commitment of John Baldacci, both as Governor and as Congressman, and from former Governor Angus King.

“Maine has been and continues to be a leader in land conservation efforts,” said Governor Baldacci. “This remarkable partnership among private, local, state and federal entities has yielded lasting results. I congratulate the Department of Conservation and its partners on this acquisition. This is a shining example of the important work that has been made possible by continued funding of the Land for Maine’s Future program.”

The Maine Congressional delegation spearheaded the federal effort to fund the Mt Blue-Tumbledown acquisitions and stepped in at a critical moment in 2001 with the successful passage of an amendment to fund the project that was offered by U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

“I congratulate the Trust for Public Land, the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance, participating landowners, the Maine Department of Conservation and the partnering federal, state and local agencies for their unwavering efforts throughout these past five years to preserve nearly 26,000 acres and protect the natural beauty of Tumbledown Mountain. Honoring the traditions of Maine, the conservation of Tumbledown/Mt. Blue not only ensures that this valuable treasure will be enjoyed by future generations of Mainers, but serves as the model private-public partnership,” said Snowe. “I was pleased that Senator Collins and I were able to secure $1.5 million in the fiscal year 2004 Interior Appropriations bill to permanently protect the trail system for public access to the top of Tumbledown Mountain. The past funds we also obtained through the federal Forest Legacy Program have added approximately 2,500 acres to Mt. Blue State Park and 11,800 acres at the top of the mountain. I pledge to continue working on behalf of conservation and recreational investments that are economically and environmentally sound for Maine.”

“Mt. Blue State Park and the Tumbledown Mountain area comprise one of Maine’s finest family destinations,” said Collins. “It has truly been a pleasure to help secure more than $4.5 million in federal funding for such a wonderful place to hike and visit. Through the hard work and commitment of conservationists, landowners, and state and local officials, we have now been able to use federal dollars to permanently protect almost 26,000 acres for all Mainers to enjoy.”

“I would like to thank all of the partners and everyone in the surrounding communities for working hard to ensure that the Mt. Blue/Tumbledown Mountain area will be preserved for future generations,” said U.S. Representative Michael Michaud. “This conservation effort ensures that Maine’s most beautiful mountains will be preserved, and it allows for increased recreation and guaranteed access in the region which will create jobs now and in the future.”

“Protection for these 26,000 acres is an important achievement in the overall plan for Tumbledown,” U.S. Representative Tom Allen said. “My hearty congratulations to all of the people who have been working so hard and so long to realize the dream of a comprehensive plan to protect this spectacular area of Western Maine in perpetuity.”

The USDA Forest Legacy Program, authorized by Congress in 1990 to keep intact natural and recreational resources of the nation’s dwindling forests, provides federal money to states to protect threatened woodlands either through public purchase or conservation easements. The latter are voluntary agreements in which landowners are paid to give up future development rights on their property. With its minimum requirement of 25 percent non-federal matching funds, the program leverages state and private dollars to complement federal money.

“The Mount Blue-Tumbledown project is a magnificent example of how the Forest Legacy Program, through public and private partnerships, can conserve working forests so they can continue to provide clean air and water, forest products, critical wildlife habitat and an abundance of recreation opportunities,” said Rick Cooksey, Program Manager for the USDA Forest Legacy Program. “The Forest Service is delighted to be a part of this conservation effort to permanently protect this important natural resource asset in the northern forests of Maine.”

“The Land for Maine’s Future Program is thrilled to have participated in this project,” said Tim Glidden, Director. “The conservation program, with its balance of fee and working forest easement, that has unfolded on this landscape has done more than save a beautiful place. It has protected the cultural, recreational, and industrial uses of this landscape, all of which are vital to the economy of western Maine.”

The Tumbledown Mountain/Mt. Blue State Park area has long been prized for its scenic beauty, opportunities for recreation, wildlife habitat and productive forest. 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, the Appalachian Mountain Club and many local residents- formed the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance to promote a conservation vision for the region.

The Maine Department of Conservation, TPL, and the Alliance have been working together since then to conserve high-priority conservation land, including mountaintops, popular recreation trails, and habitat for declining wildlife species like the peregrine falcon, Bicknell’s thrush, and spring salamander.

The Tumbledown project was facilitated by the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit conservation organization that has worked with local partners and the state of Maine to provide funding for the project.

“It has been remarkably gratifying to watch the colors on the map of this spectacular basin change as year by year, acquisition by acquisition, this conservation vision has been realized,” said Whitney Hatch, Regional Director and Vice President of the Trust for Public Land. “This vision, established by TCA and DOC, has come this far largely because of the hard work and determination of Senators Snowe and Collins, Representatives Michaud and Allen, Governor Baldacci and Governor King, the Forest Legacy Program and the Land for Maine’s Future Program.”

“In 1999, a group of local residents and organizations formed the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance and launched an effort to protect for the present and the future one of western Maine’s most beautiful mountain and forest regions,” said Bob Kimber of the Alliance. “Today, we are celebrating the extraordinary success of that effort, a success made possible by the hard work, enthusiasm, and generosity of many people. To the members of Maine’s Congressional delegation who secured crucial Forest Legacy funding for this project, to the Land for Maine’s Future board who also provided essential funding, to Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, to Governors King and Baldacci, who have always been staunch supporters, and to the hundreds upon hundreds of individuals who have contributed to this effort, all we can say is, ‘Thank you so much, and how can we ever thank you enough?'”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization that works with others to conserve land for people to enjoy as working landscapes, parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.9 million acres in 45 states, including more than 50,000 acres in Maine. For more information, please call 772-7424 or visit

For a digital photo, please contact Ian Cleary at 207-772-7424 ext. 5 or