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Open Space Institute Supports Conservation of 721 Acres of Forest and River Frontage for Carbon Storage, Wildlife Habitat, and Water Quality Protection

NORWAY, ME (Oct. 17, 2023) – The Open Space Institute (OSI) announced today that funding from their Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund (ALPF) supported the Western Foothills Land Trust (WFLT) in conserving 721 acres of working forested land in western Maine. The purchase will protect 47 acres of wetlands, more than a mile of stream habitat, and two miles of frontage along the Crooked River.

“The Open Space Institute was proud to support the Western Foothills Land Trust in saving this pristine and beautiful forest,” said Joel Houser, Director of Capital Grants, OSI. “Our Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund was created with the goal of conserving lands with the ability to absorb and store carbon emissions as well as protecting habitat in the face of a changing climate. This conservation achievement accomplishes all of that and more.”

The Twin Bridges Extension properties complement a vast 15,000-acre assemblage acquired in 2020 by The Conservation Fund in partnership with Malone Family Land Preservation Foundation known as White Pine Forest, LLC. When properly managed, mature forests can capture and store an average of fifteen percent of carbon emissions in trees and soil, in addition to providing refuge for wildlife as the climate changes. When properly managed, the Edwards Mills property has the capacity to store an estimated 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year.

In addition to shoreline and stream protection, the Edward Mills land features 275 acres of deer wintering area, 84 acres of wetland, and vernal pools. Permanent protection of this land preserves its ecological and scenic features and provides future opportunities for public recreation. WFLT is planning for the creation of trails for non-motorized recreational use, a trailhead with kiosk, and parking to be constructed over the next year. The trails will accommodate hiking, snowshoeing, backcountry touring, fly fishing, and nature walks.

Measuring 62 miles in length, the Crooked River is the largest tributary feeding into Sebago Lake, which provides drinking water for one-sixth of Maine’s population. The river supports upstream aquifers, local recreation economies, and essential spawning habitat for brook trout and landlocked salmon, while sustaining downstream drinking water quality. Approximately 99 percent of Sebago Lake’s landlocked salmon spawn in the Crooked River.

OSI’s ALPF catalyzes land protection along the Appalachian Mountain range — an area that is home to the world’s largest broadleaf forest, stores most of the nation’s forest carbon, and provides essential refuge for plants and animals at risk of habitat loss from climate change. The Fund is made possible thanks to major support from the Doris Duke Foundation and additional funding from Jane’s Trust and other private foundations.

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