Over 2,400 Acres for Mt. Blue State Park (ME)

WELD, Maine, 1/7/02: The Maine Department of Conservation’s Bureau of Parks and Lands today announced the purchase of 2,468 acres as an addition to the Mt. Blue State Park. The property includes a 1,298-foot peak known as Hedgehog Hill and approximately half of the Park’s popular 20-mile multi-use Trail.

The property was purchased for $980,000 from New River Franklin Ltd., a subsidiary of McDonald Investment Company, Inc. Funding came from a combination of money from the Land for Maine’s Future Program, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, and private money. The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit organization, assisted with the purchase.

As part of this acquisition, the BPL spent $20,000 of ATV money specifically to protect the trail. Now ATV riders, horseback riders and outdoor enthusiasts who frequent the popular trail will remain within the park’s boundary.

“Western Maine’s panoramic vistas in the Mt. Blue and Tumbledown region will be protected for future generations and I’m grateful for the many players who made today’s exciting announcement possible,” said Governor Angus S. King, Jr.

“The Mt. Blue project is an excellent example of the benefits of a federal-state partnership approach to land conservation in Maine,’ said Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. “I am pleased to have supported the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which helped bring about the success of the Hedgehog Hill protection effort.”

Sen. Susan M. Collins, R-Maine, said, ‘”The completion of this portion of the Mt. Blue-Tumbledown project is an important step towards ensuring conservation of this wonderful part of Maine. The community around Weld has worked hard to protect the recreation and outdoor resources at Mt. Blue and Tumbledown, and I look forward to continuing my strong support for this effort and others through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”

Rep. John Baldacci, D-Maine, commented, “This collaborative effort will help to insure public access to an important area of our state. Because of the actions being taken, Maine families and future generations will be able to enjoy the beauty and recreational opportunities this land offers. The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund is making a difference in our state by ensuring that special portions of Maine will be safeguarded and remain available for public enjoyment.”

Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine, said, “Mt. Blue State Park is one of Maine’s most spectacular natural treasures. This latest acquisition is the result of tireless efforts from dedicated people at the local, state and federal levels. It also reinforces the need for Congress to invest in the Land and Water Conservation Fund to provide federal support to the Land for Maine’s Future program and other vitally important state, local and private conservation initiatives.”

“This is a tremendous achievement for Mt. Blue State Park, and we were pleased to help make it possible,” said Whitney Hatch, regional director for The Trust for Public Land. “However, there’s still a significant amount of land in the Mt. Blue area that is threatened with subdivision and development. We will continue to seek private and public funding over the next several months, with the hope of conserving more of this remarkable part of the state.”

Mt. Blue, which had almost 70,000 visitors last year, is one of Maine’s most popular state parks. Today’s purchase increases the size of the Park from about 5,000 acres to nearly 7,500 acres. The lands surrounding Mt. Blue are known for their scenic beauty, natural resources, productive forests, and importance for recreation. Conservation of this region has long been a state priority.

In addition, last year, in response to large-scale changes in ownership, five organizations – the Webb Lake Association, Friends of the Maine State Parks, Western Maine Audubon Society, Foothills Land Conservancy, and the Appalachian Mountain Club – formed the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance to develop and promote a conservation vision for the region.

The Maine Department of Conservation and the Trust for Public Land are working with the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance to conserve approximately 30,000 acres in the region. Conservation priorities include mountaintops, popular recreation trails, and habitat for declining wildlife species, such as the peregrine falcon, Bicknell’s thrush, and spring salamander.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.4 million acres nationwide, including more than 30,000 acres in Maine.

The Bureau of Parks and Lands oversees the management of 32 state parks, 12 historic sites, and more than 480,000 acres of public reserved lands.