Branch Lake

Branch Lake, Maine. Photo: Jerry and Marcy MonkmanPhoto credit: Jerry & Marcy Monkman

For more than 80 years, the Fenn family owned 1,100 acres spanning 3.5 miles of shoreline along Branch Lake, the singular source of drinking water for Ellsworth, eastern Maine's largest coastal city. Branch Lake also drains into Union River and Blue Hill Bay, which together form a nationally-significant estuary. Eager to protect the land and its fragile natural resources, the family worked with The Trust for Public Land for more than four years to forge a conservation solution.

In April, 2010, the property was protected under two separate conservation easements, meeting important drinking water, watershed protection, timber management, and public recreation needs. The land connects to more than 7,000 acres of unfragmented forest.

Recognizing that watershed protection through conservation would be less expensive than water treatment, and that the land would provide other public benefits, the town of Ellsworth contributed the majority of the $2.5 million purchase price with help from the Land for Maine's Future Program, the Forest Society of Maine, and The Frenchman Bay Conservancy.

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Since 1972, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 3.3 million acres and completed more than 5,400 park and conservation projects.