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Bigelow Preserve

Flagstaff Twp, T3 R4 BKP WKR, Bigelow Twp, Dead River Twp

Photo: View of Stratton Brook Pond, Bigelow Preserve

Vital Statistics

  • Size: 10,540 acres
  • Regulated: 4,341 acres
  • Non-Regulated: 6,199 acres
  • Upland: 10,331 acres
  • Forested Wetland (NWI): 71 acres
  • Non-Forested Wetland: 140 acres
  • Open Water: 20 acres
  • Roads: trails-23 miles
  • Biophysical Region: Mahoosucs/Rangeley Lakes
  • BPL Region: West
Map showing location of Bigelow Preserve

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Exemplary Natural Communities

Scientific Name Common Name State Rank Global Rank
Acidic Cliff - Gorge Acidic Cliff S4 GNR
Beech - Birch - Maple Forest Northern Hardwoods Forest S4 G3G5
Dwarf Heath - Graminoid Alpine Ridge Heath Alpine Ridge S2 G4?
Fir - Heart-leaved Birch Subalpine Forest Subalpine Fir Forest S3 GNR
Mixed Graminoid - Shrub Marsh Grassy Shrub Marsh S5 GNR
Raised Level Bog Ecosystem Raised Level Bog Ecosystem S4 GNR
Spruce - Fir - Wood-sorrell - Feather-moss Forest Montane Spruce - Fir Forest S4 G3G5

Rare Plants

Scientific Name Common Name State Rank Global Rank State Status
Vaccinium boreale Alpine Blueberry S4 GNR SC
Anthoxanthum monticola Alpine Sweet Grass S1 G5 T
Carex bigelowii Bigelow's Sedge S2 G5 SC
Agrostis mertensii Boreal Bentgrass S2 G5 T
Solidago leiocarpa Cutler's Goldenrod S1 G5T4 T
Dryopteris fragrans Fragrant Cliff Wood-fern S3 G5 SC
Diapensia lapponica Lapland Diapensia S2 G5 SC
Minuartia groenlandica Mountain Sandwort S3 G5 SC
Geocaulon lividum Northern Comandra S3 G5 SC
Paronychia argyrocoma Silverling S1 G4 T
Photo: View of habitat of Prenanthes nana, Bigelow Preserve

Rare Animals

There are no documented occurrences of rare animals within this Ecoreserve. For more information on rare animals in Maine, visit the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.


Extending over 3,000 feet from Flagstaff Lake (1140 feet) to West Peak (4150 feet), the Bigelow Ecological Reserve encompasses the highest elevational gradient of any of the 16 reserves. Its area of alpine ridge (171 acres) is second to the Mahoosucs among ecological reserves, and it supports over 3,100 acres of subalpine spruce-fir forest. Some of this sub-alpine forest has been harvested in the past, depending on forest type and accessibility. Nearly all of the sub-alpine type shows evidence of natural disturbance, spruce-budworm mortality and wind/ice damage. The Appalachian Trail traverses the eastern part of the ridge, and other hiking trails provide access from the south and west.

Photo: Image of an Ecologist working at Bigelow Preserve, and showing the view from West Peak

Operable mid-slope forests extend both north and south of the main ridgeline, affording opportunities to study the influence of aspect on forest characteristics. Most of the low to mid-elevation forests in the preserve were harvested several times in the last century. However, the reserve also supports small but good examples of two common matrix-forming natural communities, beech-birch-maple forest and montane spruce-fir forest. These stands show little evidence of past harvesting and support many trees over 110 years old.

Wetlands in and around the floodplain of Stratton Brook provide excellent examples of successional wetland systems from broad graminoid and shrub meadows and a convoluted mosaic of acidic fen, shrub swamp, and various graminoid and herbaceous meadows. All of the wetlands sampled in the 1990s had been influenced by beaver.

Photo: View from Avery Tower to Little Bigelow