The Maine Woods

A Publication of the Forest Ecology Network

 Volume Five     Number Two                           Late Fall 2001

The Pingree Forest Partnership


Conservation history was heralded on March 20 by Maine Governor Angus King as the New England Forestry Foundation and the Pingree Family closed the largest forestland conservation easement in the history of the United States. The deal will protect 762,192 acres from development forever.

The Governor was joined at the State House in Augusta by Steve Schley, President of Pingree Associates, who had earlier signed papers that relinquished the family's development rights, and G. Montgomery Lovejoy III, President of New England Forestry Foundation who presented a check for $28,142,316 to the Pingree Family, the purchase price for the development rights, about $37 per acre.

West Kennebago Mountain mirrored in Kennebago Lake.

Larger than the State of Rhode Island, and three and a half times the size of Baxter State Park, this conservation easement conserves some of the most spectacular natural resources in Maine, including the Allagash Lakes and 16 miles along the St. John River. "Today we make history with a conservation easement of unprecedented scale and magnitude," said Governor King. "The protection of over three quarters of a million acres shows that with the right partners landscape scale projects are dreams that can come true. Present and future generations owe a debt of gratitude to the Pingree Family and the New England Forestry Foundation for the singular vision and determination that made this possible."

NEFF was founded in 1944 as a non-profit corporation for the purpose of protecting New England's working forests. Today, NEFF owns and manages 21,000 acres in 120 demonstration forests and holds over 50 easements across New England. NEFF promotes sustainable forestry as a long-term investment and has developed a singular expertise in assisting landowners to conserve their land while avoiding or minimizing parcelization.

Steve Schley, President of Pingree Associates, Inc., agents for the Pingree family, said, "the family is very pleased to have worked with the New England Forestry Foundation to conserve this magnificent Maine forestland. Now we can move forward with our primary objective of managing our forests sustainably and contributing to the forest economy of Maine." The Pingree forest is the first in the world to be "Green Certified" by two independent third party certifiers.

The easement protects portions of the Cupsuptic, Black, Little Black, St. John, Machias and Aroostook Rivers, as well as Upper Richardson, Kennebago, Munsungan, Loon, Caucomgomoc, Eagle, Chamberlain, Allagash, Mooseleuk and Churchill Lakes.
Within the 762,192 acres are over 2,000 miles of shore frontage along major rivers and streams. More than 110 lakes and ponds with 215 miles of shoreline will also be conserved. These forests contain numerous active bald eagle nests, 24,800 acres of managed deeryards, 72,000 acres of wetland habitat, home to many species of waterfowl, Maine's most productive peregrine falcon nesting area, and at least 67 rare and endangered plant sites. "The assemblage of natural resources is beyond compare," said G. Montgomery Lovejoy III, President of NEFF, "which is why the response to this effort from individuals, foundations, corporations and government has been so outstanding. They made it happen. They provided critical funding, advice and support. Thank you one and all."

More than forty-five foundations, both large and small, contributed to the success of the project including The John Merck Fund and the Merck Family Fund, each of which provided major lead gifts to launch the fundraising initiative. The Libra Foundation made the largest single gift from a Maine based foundation. Also, generous grants were received from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Kresge Foundation, the Sudbury Foundation, the Betterment Fund, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund and the agencies involved with the North Cape Oil Spill (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

More than one thousand individuals contributed to the success of this project including $831.42 from the children at Breakwater School in Portland, Maine who conducted a penny drive to raise the funds. In addition, several individuals contributed although they had never been to Maine and probably never will. "Everyone who contributed, from five dollars to one million deserve a round of applause and a hearty thank-you. Without all of you this would not have worked," said Lovejoy.

Keith Ross, Vice President and Director of Land Protection for NEFF, who organized and led this initiative, added, "this is a banner day for the northern forests. With this easement, future generations can be assured they will have diverse, sustainably managed forest lands to enjoy forever."

The size of the deal was increased thanks to participation of the Maine Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Their financial support and the addition of forested acres from their recent acquisition added protection for the St John River and Big Reed Pond while increasing the size of the easement.

In March of 1999, the New England Forestry Foundation and Pingree Associates announced they had reached agreement on the terms and cost of a conservation easement. Governor King was on hand for the announcement, which was widely covered in newspapers around the country. The project was compared to the country"s largest conservation easement to date, on over 140,000 acres in Montana. It was recognized at the time that success of the Pingree Forest Partnership Project would increase by 50% the total number of acres in conservation easements nationally. The New England Forestry Foundation had less than 24 months to raise the funds before the option for purchase expired.

A broad coalition formed among the state's various conservation, sporting and business organizations to support the purchase of the Pingree easement. Participants included the Forest Society of Maine, Sportsmen's Alliance of Maine, Maine Audubon Society, Northern Forest Alliance, Chewonki Foundation, Maine AFL-CIO, Maine Forest Products Council, Maine Professional Guides, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, Ducks Unlimited, Maine Appalachian Trail Club, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Maine Council of Trout Unlimited, Maine Snowmobile Association, Maine Sporting Camp Association, Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Businesses for the Northern Forest and Maine Tourism Association.

The above article is from the website of the New England Forestry Foundation.

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