The Maine Woods

A Publication of the Forest Ecology Network

 Volume Five     Number Two                           Late Fall 2001

Land Preservation News from the Maine Chapter of The Nature Conservancy


     Trout Mountain is the centerpiece of a million dollar/3,564-acre purchase from Great Northern Paper. The mountain rises above nearly a dozen ponds, including Twin and Logan Ponds which provide some of the state's most intact native brook trout habitats.
     Nestled against the southeastern edge of Baxter State Park, the property provides stunning views of Mount Katahdin seven miles to the north. In the tract's northeast corner, an unusual washboard of sand ridges and wetlands characterized by open sedge meadows and speckled alder swamps attract an array of wildlife including beaver and moose, otter and mink. These, along with old-growth forest remnants, pristine ponds, spruce-fir slopes, red pine shores, kettlehole bogs, cedar-lined lakes, steep hardwood slopes, cliffs and eskers only begin the list of features on this largely unroaded expanse.

An aerial view of the Nature Conservancy's new Trout Mountain purchase. Photo by Chris Ayres.

     On the fringe of Baxter State Park, and just north of Millinocket, the land comes with a history of recreational use. We look forward to working with sportsmen, snowmobilers and others in maintaining many traditional uses.


     From the shores of York Pond in Eliot to the pocket wetlands of the Tatnic Hills in Wells, the conservation efforts of The Mount Agamenticus Challenge protect one of Maine's most important ecosystems. In just a year and a half since the Mount Agamenticus Challenge was launched, the Conservancy, Great Works Regional Land Trust and York Land Trust have conserved some 500 acres of land in the greater Mount Agamenticus region. With 650 more acres in the pipeline, we are making rapid progress toward our goal of conserving 7,000 acres over five years - nearly twice the land in conservation there today.
     Our strategy is a simple one - focus on expanding large tracts of conserved land in areas where the most valuable plant and wildlife habitat exists. One of these areas is York Pond in Eliot. With its Pitch Pine bog and Leather Leaf shrub swamp, the York Pond area has one of the most significant wetland complexes in the greater Mount Agamenticus region.
     The most recent purchase here secures an important tract near York Pond. Acquired from Eastbrook Timber Inc., this property adds 91 acres to an existing wildlife area managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and completes the core of 535 acres of continuous conservations lands protected by the Town of Eliot, Great Works Regional Land Trust and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
     Other Mount Agamenticus Challenge purchases over the last year include four tracts in York. Two of the parcels are now owned by York Water district while the Conservancy holds title to the other two tracts.
     The Mount Agamenticus Challenge has secured several parcels in the Chick's Brook area of South Berwick with additional parcels in the area under contract. This unique area with its jagged bedrock cliffs and rocky, swift flowing stream is home to a small population of swampdarters, a species of fish at the northern limit of its range in Southern Maine. It is also home to other rare species like Blandings and Spotted turtles.
    The initiative is making great strides to conserve lands that bridge large conservation areas as well. One such project is slated to close mid-May - the purchase of a 106-acre parcel off of Ogunquit Road in York and South Berwick that will help connect the York Land Trust's Hilton Preserve with land owned by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The Mount Agamenticus Challenge also has a purchase option on land in the Bell Marsh area of York for up to 250 acres of prime habitat, forests, and wetlands that link York and Kittery Water District lands with lands conserved on and around Mount Agamenticus. These last two tracts formed part of a large 500-acre deal with Eastbrook Timber, Inc. which worked with the Conservancy to reach a conservation outcome.
While the momentum behind this project is building, the development pressure in the greater Mount Agamenticus region persists. We are in a race against time - even as we meet with landowners and close on land deals, we are often just in time to prevent development of the area's magnificent forests and farms.
     In the end, it is the strength of the partnerships created through the Mount Agamenticus Challenge that will define the success of this project. To make it work, we will need continued collaboration between private organizations, state agencies, municipalities, water districts, and individuals who share an interest in protecting this important resource.

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