Over 2,400 Acres Protected At Seboeis Lake (ME)

AUGUSTA, ME 4/24/2009: Governor John E. Baldacci today announced the completion of Seboeis Lake conservation project. The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization with an office in Portland, has completed the transfer of 2,434 acres at Seboeis Lake from Bayroot LLC to the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. The Governor joined Legislators, conservation groups and local and federal officials at the State House ceremony to celebrate the major step forward in permanently protecting the prime recreational landscape between Milo and Millinocket.

“Seboeis Lake is a shining example of how protecting Maine’s special places is linked to our economic vitality,” said Governor Baldacci. “With the help of our Land for Maine’s Future program, we are guaranteeing permanent public access for all traditional outdoor activities, we’re bolstering the tourist economy in the Millinocket region, and we’re preserving a treasured resource.”

The new acquisition includes 12 miles of frontage on Seboeis Lake and Northwest Pond and another 4.8 miles of island shoreline. The 2,434 acres will be added to the existing Seboeis Unit, building on an earlier Land for Maine’s Future-funded acquisition at the south end of Seboeis Lake. With this addition, 95 percent of the Seboeis Lake shoreline now is permanently protected for public access and closed to private development.

The new acquisition includes guaranteed public access to approximately five miles of Interconnected Trail System (ITS) Connector Trail 111, which links two major north-south snowmobile routes between the Brownville area and Millinocket.

Patrick McGowan, Commissioner of the Department of Conservation, said, “Seboeis is a great piece of land cherished by the local community and ideal for camping, snowmobiling, fishing, hunting and ATV riding. This is one of the reasons why Land for Maine’s Future has been so successful in all 16 of Maine’s counties, because it conserves great land that people love and treasure. This acquisition is tied very tightly to the local community. It is a wonderful addition to the public ownership in this region of Maine.”

“Today we have come very close to the goal of making the entire Seboeis Lake area a public asset, a place that can never be closed off,” Sam Hodder, TPL’s outgoing Maine director, said. “Once again, Governor Baldacci and the Legislature have shown their commitment, through their support of the Land for Maine’s Future program, to investing in our natural resources. It will pay dividends today in spectacular opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, and opportunities for the local communities to earn tourism dollars, but it is also a legacy for future generations.”

The $2.4 million purchase was made possible by funds from three sources:

  • a grant of $897,000 from the Land for Maine’s Future program;
  • $503,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grants Program; and
  • $1 million from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

The Seboeis Lake protection effort is part of the larger Katahdin Forest Expansion (KFE) project, which aims to protect key resources and ensure public recreational access near Millinocket and east of Baxter State Park. The KFE project is proposed as Maine’s top priority for funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Legacy Program and is strongly supported by U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Congressman Michael Michaud.

Seboeis Lake offers clear waters, scenic vistas which include Mt. Katahdin, and many opportunities for camping, fishing, canoeing, and wildlife viewing. It has the largest population of nesting loons on any lake in northern Maine except Moosehead. The shores of Northwest Pond, in the newly-acquired area, offer some of the finest moose-watching in the entire region.

Recreational opportunities in the Seboeis Lake Unit will include hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and ATV riding, as well as backcountry hiking and camping.

Gene Conlogue, Millinocket Town Manager, said, “The Seboeis purchase is part of a larger package in the Millinocket area that was negotiated one-and-a-half years ago. This is a major step toward realizing completion of the total deal that includes several parcels of land north of Millinocket owned by Roxanne Quimby. It will add to the assurance that current multi-use trails and other recreational uses will be protected while allowing for more to be constructed in the future. This area of the state prides itself on being a working forest that also provides abundant recreational opportunities and we want that to continue.”

Bob Meyers, Executive Director of the Maine Snowmobile Association, said, “We’re pleased that the first goal of a multi-part conservation plan for the Katahdin Region has been reached. We’re looking forward to the completion of the entire plan, which will permanently ensure access for traditional uses in the region. Each step in this process helps to ensure the economic vitality of one of Maine’s most important centers of outdoor recreation.”

“The Land for Maine’s Future Board has been committed to this area for many years,” George Lapointe, the chair of the Land for Maine’s Future Board, said. “This is a sound investment that protects Maine’s heritage as well as the foundation of a healthy economic future for our citizens, especially in the hard-hit rural areas of the State.”

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. In Maine, TPL has protected more than 111,000 acres with projects ranging from city parks and pathways to coastal habitat and working farms and forests.

The Land for Maine’s Future Program was created in 1987 in response to concerns over the loss of critical natural areas and wildlife habitat along with traditional access to undeveloped lands for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. To date, the Land for Maine’s Future Program has protected over 490,000 acres of Maine’s best recreational and natural areas. The Program also seeks to protect farmlands through the purchase of development rights and public access to water for fishing boating and commercial marine activities. A series of previous bond issues, overwhelmingly approved by Maine voters, provides funding for these projects. However, with the exception of limited funding remains available for boat launch sites, all funding for farm and conservation has been committed. The Legislature is currently considering proposals to replenish the program, including the Governor’s proposed bond package.

For more information, visit http://www.maine.gov/spo/lmf