Projects Include Historic Conservation of Deer Wintering Habitat at Reed Deadwater
Governor Janet Mills today announced 12 Land for Maine’s Future conservation projects across the State of Maine which will protect working lands and wildlife habitat and preserve public access to lakes, rivers, scenic views, and mountain vistas. The projects include Reed Deadwater, the state’s largest conservation project to protect deer wintering habitat to date.
“As an avid sportswoman myself, I always look forward to announcing new Land for Maine’s Future Projects that conserve our lands for the public, but today is a special day,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Today, we mark the state’s largest conservation project to protect deer wintering habitat, which will help restore this once iconic species in Northern Maine and renew the hope of sportsmen and women across our state.”
"The Reed Deadwater Project is unique for both its size and scope. With over 3,000 acres of historic deer wintering habitat, this deer yard will provide critical winter cover for an array of important wildlife in Maine," said Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Judy Camuso. "At a time when more and more people are outside, conserving such a large parcel of unfragmented forestland has incredible benefits for both the people of Maine and our wildlife."
With today's announcement, the LMF Board has approved 37 new projects since the Governor proposed and the Maine Legislature overwhelmingly approved $40 million to reinvigorate the LMF program through the biennial budget.
Of the 12 projects announced today, three projects will preserve working farmland, four projects will preserve working waterfronts, and five projects will preserve working forests.
The projects, which total $7.7 million and are expected to leverage an additional $24 million in private and federal funds, are:
- Reed Deadwater: The Reed Deadwater area is a 6,300-acre parcel in southern Aroostook County that contains over 3,000 acres of historic deer wintering habitat, along with habitat for many at-risk species. It abuts an additional 45,000 acres of conserved land. There are 2,500 acres of significant wetlands supporting rare species, as the Reed Deadwater contains a rare eccentric bog ecosystem. Upland portions of this property support significant deer wintering habitat, and the wetlands provide abundant wading bird and waterfowl habitat and are also home to globally rare and state threatened Tomah Mayflies. Macwahoc Stream flows through the deadwater and contains a population of state threatened Brook Floater Mussels and the stream is in Atlantic salmon critical habitat. The waterway is also an excellent flatwater paddle trip for kayakers and canoers. Once completed, the project will be the single largest acquisition in the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s history and the state’s most significant purchase to conserve deer wintering habitat.
- Kennebago Woodlands (Stetson Twp) - The Kennebago Woodlands property is a 5,000+ acre addition to the Kennebago Headwaters project previously selected by the LMF Board. The conservation of this property will protect the uplands area and tributary streams of the Kennebago River. Management of the property will balance commercial timber values and the protection of sensitive habitats.
- Mill Hill and Edwards Mill Forests (Oxford and Cumberland Counties) - This multi-parcel project spans multiple towns and counties in southwestern Maine. It includes over 3 miles of frontage on the Crooked River, the largest tributary to Sebago Lake, and critical spawning grounds for Maine's native land-locked salmon population. Sebago Lake provides the drinking water supply to 1/6th of Maine's population.
- Square Lake - Cross Lake (Aroostook County) - This 4,000+ acre property will be acquired by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Public Lands (BPL) and added to their Square Lake Public Lands unit. This acquisition will support public access to over five miles of shore frontage on Square and Cross Lakes. The property also includes multiple high-value natural resources. Property management will be consistent with BPL's multiple-use mandate, balancing timber management and public use.
- Chadbourne Tree Farm (Bethel) - This multi-parcel project will protect over 10,000 acres with a working forest conservation easement held by BPL. The properties collectively include a mix of high-value timberlands and wetlands and connect with existing recreational resources in the greater Bethel region.
- E & E Farm (Lisbon) - A 274-acre property just outside of Lisbon Falls, ME, with 119 acres of open space and 154 acres of forest, the land at E&E is well situated for a variety of cattle and dairy enterprises. It has been home to a dairy herd and heifer operation in the Smith Family at different points in its 100+ year history. With the farm's proximity to the Brunswick, Lewiston/Auburn, and Greater Portland metropolitan areas, development pressure in the area is strong.
- Roseberry Farm (Richmond) - One of the larger contiguous tracts of dairyland still under active management in the area at over 1,000 acres, Roseberry Farm provides a unique opportunity for a livestock-based business to thrive in the future.
- New Leaf Farm (Durham) - A 74-acre farm that has been home to one of Maine's pioneer organic vegetable operations, this easement will enable the current owners to work on a succession plan. Development pressure has led to the conversion of significant amounts of open space in the area. The New Leaf property is adjacent to 340 acres of conservation land surrounding Runaround Pond and is only a few miles from several other thriving agricultural operations.
- Sea Meadow Marine Foundation (Yarmouth) - A nonprofit 50l(c)(3) preserving and protecting the "Even Keel Boatyard" to provide affordable access to individuals and families who make their living directly or indirectly from the sea. This land is the last exclusively working waterfront site in the Yarmouth/Freeport area.
- Small Point Development Corporation (Phippsburg) - A 61-year-old jointly owned shareholder corporation run by local fishermen and summer residents, this project permanently protects working waterfront for commercial fishing and aquaculture and preserves the community's shared vision as a traditional, multi-use Maine harbor.
- Fisherman's Wharf (Swan's Island) - The only landing on the Minturn side of the Island and one of two public landings on the Island, currently unusable because of disrepair. This project will revitalize the Warf to ensure the public's safe use, transforming it into a vital commercial outlet that can make valuable contributions to the local economy.
- Evelyn D LLC Working Waterfront (Harpswell) - Preserving the heritage and history of commercial fishing and boat building in Harpswell and ensuring future generations can operate the property as a working waterfront.
"Access to Maine's working waterfront continues to face development pressure that can undermine our state's vital commercial fishing and aquaculture industries," said LMF Board Chair and Commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources Patrick Keliher. "Thanks to Governor Mills' support for Maine's valuable heritage industries, important infrastructure that is so necessary for a strong and resilient coastal economy has been preserved and protected."
"It's an exciting day to be moving three farm projects forward based on the due diligence and recommendations of LMF's Working Farmland Access Protection Program committee," said Commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Amanda Beal "These farms are all located in areas of the state experiencing growing development pressure. Likewise, having the opportunity to protect such significant working forests and recreational lands will continue to benefit our state and local communities in numerous ways now and for generations to come."
The Land for Maine's Future Program is the State of Maine's primary method of conserving land for its natural and recreational value. The program was established in 1987 when Maine citizens approved a $35 million bond to fund the purchase of land and easements. The program's priority is to conserve the Maine landscape, recognizing that working lands and public access to these lands are critical to preserving Maine's quality of life.
Since then, LMF has conserved over 610,000 acres of land, including 333,425 acres of working lands. This work includes 70 water access sites with over 67 miles of shoreline on rivers, lakes, and ponds, 41 farms and 9,884 acres of protected farmlands, 30 working waterfront properties, 158 miles of former railroad corridors for recreational trails and over 69 miles of coastal access.
More information can be found on the Land for Maine Future program website.