New 1,400-acre Community Forest Created in Sebago
The Trust for Public Land today announced the permanent protection of the newly created Tiger Hill Community Forest. Along with Loon Echo Land Trust and local residents, The Trust for Public Land helped to permanently protect 1,400 acres, which will allow for outdoor recreation and sustainable forest management, while also protecting Sebago Lake—the water supply for over one-sixth of Maine residents. The project is a cornerstone of Sebago Clean Waters, a collaborative effort of nine conservation organizations, including The Trust for Public Land and Loon Echo Land Trust, to protect the forested watershed for the lake.
“This project is truly a milestone for the Sebago Lake region,” said Betsy Cook, Maine Program Director for The Trust for Public Land. “This new community forest will support the local outdoor recreation and forestry economy, protect a critical drinking water source, and provide a place for the community to connect to the outdoors and to their neighbors.”
For many rural New England towns, community forests act as neighborhood parks, and serve as places of inspiration, community gatherings, experiential learning, active stewardship, and creative economic endeavors. In the summer, Sebago, Maine, and the surrounding towns swell with thousands of tourists visiting Sebago Lake. It’s also a popular place for second homes. The increased population growth and tourism present challenges to protecting the town’s natural beauty and sense of community. For the local Sebago community, this forest will be a new town commons in the woods.
“Land conservation supports robust outdoor recreation and wood products industries, while also preserving a traditional way of life here in Maine’s Sebago Lake region,” said Matt Markot, Executive Director of Loon Echo Land Trust. “The Tiger Hill Community Forest protects wildlife habitats, secures public access for recreation, and preserves working forestland. The property will also remain on municipal tax rolls, ensuring that the benefits of land conservation do not come at the expense of town budgets.”
“Tiger Hill Community Forest is a stellar example of multiple conservation organizations joining forces with the public and businesses like our local breweries to protect land that will benefit all of us,” said Karen Young, Coordinator of Sebago Clean Waters. “It is a conservation model that will serve us well in the future as we continue to conserve the forests critical to the region’s drinking water.”
The Trust for Public Land facilitated the acquisition of the property from generous landowners with a shared vision to create a community forest. The land is now owned by Loon Echo Land Trust and will be stewarded to meet community needs for generations to come. This newly created community forest was funded by the Maine Natural Resources Conservation Program, Portland Water District, the Open Space Institute’s Resilient Landscape Fund and Community Forest Fund, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, and many generous foundations and individuals. The project was also supported directly by Allagash Brewing and Norway Savings Bank.
The Portland Water District, a Sebago Clean Waters partner, contributed $345,000 towards the project. “Tiger Hill Community Forest provides countless public benefits, including protection of the drinking water source for over 200,000 Mainers. Its forests act as a filter, purifying water as it flows to Sebago Lake,” according to Portland Water District’s Environmental Manager, Paul Hunt. “Conserving this forest means Mainers will enjoy these benefits forever.”
The Trust for Public Land is continuing to work throughout New England to create similar community forest projects, which help build local economies while providing neighbors with a place to play outside and protecting invaluable ecosystems.
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 www.tpl.org.
About Loon Echo Land Trust
Loon Echo Land Trust is a member supported, non-profit land trust that works to protect the natural resources of the northern Sebago Lake region for future generations. Loon Echo conserves over 8,000 acres of land and manages 32 miles of hiking and biking trails in the towns of Bridgton, Casco, Denmark, Harrison, Naples, Raymond and Sebago. To support Loon Echo Land Trust and learn more about their lands, visit lelt.org.
About Sebago Clean Waters
Sebago Clean Waters (SCW) is a collaborative effort of nine conservation organizations working to protect water quality, community well-being, a vibrant economy, and fish and wildlife habitat in the Sebago region through voluntary forestland conservation. SCW’s goal is to protect 25 percent (35,000 more acres) of the Sebago Lake watershed in the next 15 years. To learn more, visit sebagocleanwaters.org.