Decision on Moosehead Plan results in conservation of more than 400,000 acres
Fri, Oct 02 2009 at 5:15 PM
By The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy applauds the outstanding accomplishments forthcoming from the Land Use Regulation Commission's (LURC) approval of Plum Creek's final concept plan for Maine's Moosehead Lakes Region. LURC announced its decision on Wednesday, September 23, after four years of deliberation and revisions.
"This decision results in the lasting conservation of some 400,000 acres," said Mike Tetreault, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine. "In turn, it creates a two-million-acre emerald necklace of conservation across the North Woods as new protected areas connect with places already in conservation.
"Considering this large landscape of working forests, preserved areas, public access and recreation, what one sees is a stunning collection of conservation outcomes."
The conservation outcomes of LURC's decision include the following:
The 363,000-acre Moosehead Region Conservation Easement, one of the largest easements in the U.S., anchors the project. It comprises easements on 97,000 acres contributed by Plum Creek Timber Co. plus easements on an additional 266,000 acres being purchased by the partners at the remarkable price of $37 per acre. Strong ecological protections, sustainable forestry practices and public access for traditional recreation are guaranteed. The Forest Society of Maine will be the easement holder.
The Moose River Reserve represents 15,000 acres of natural and recreational treasures that will be acquired by The Nature Conservancy and managed as an ecological reserve. As a result of the purchase, the last unprotected portions of Number 5 Bog (one of the largest, most diverse and least disturbed peatlands in the Eastern U.S.) and the famous Moose River Bow Trip (among the best-known remote paddling routes in the state) will be completely conserved.
The Roach Ponds Parcel includes more than 29,500 acres straddling the headwaters of the Kennebec, Penobscot and Pleasant Rivers. With 10 remote ponds and stunning natural scenery, this land completes a corridor of protection along the 100-Mile Wilderness section of the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Mountain Club will purchase this parcel to protect special ecological areas and provide access for year-round recreation and sustainable forestry.
Planned vs. Unplanned Development
"We recognize that development in the North Maine Woods is a highly-charged topic, and that many people have had different perspectives and expectations regarding the Concept Plan," said Tetreault. "At the same time, it is important to remember that the choice is not between that plan and a 'forever wild' protected area. The choice is between that proposal — a landscape-scale, comprehensive plan with clear conservation outcomes — and other substantial development alternatives that could be expected."
Beyond Plum Creek
As important as recent conservation accomplishment's may be, The Nature Conservancy sees them as part of a larger initiative. "The North Maine Woods is one of the last great conservation opportunities in the eastern United States" said Tetreault. "Beyond this decision, and beyond these conservation outcomes, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure that this landscape — such a part of our cultural heritage — is preserved for the future."
"It is clear to me that the many stakeholders in this area must work together to create a shared vision, a vision that meets the needs of nature as well as nearby human communities. The Nature Conservancy looks forward to the continuing process to preserve the North Maine Woods."
MNN is working with The Nature Conservancy to bring you state-by-state environmental information.