GRAND LAKE STREAM, ME (July 1, 2016)—The Open Space Institute (OSI), the Downeast Lakes Land Trust (DLLT) and other local private and public partners are proud to announce the creation of the nation’s largest community forest. The acquisition protects over 100 miles of sensitive shoreline, safeguarding the environmental and economic resources of a local community in Maine’s Downeast region.
Selected as the nation’s highest-priority community forest by the US Forest Service, the “West Grand Lake Community Forest” project completes an eight-year, $19.4 million campaign led by DLLT. It also is a key parcel in a larger network of conserved lands that stretches across two nations and totals more than 1.4 million acres.
On the local level, it fulfills the long-held vision of the Grand Lake Stream plantation area, whose 109 year-round residents have doggedly rallied support for the transformative project to protect the fishing areas that attract tourism and represent their livelihood.
“This project represents the fulfillment of a simple yet powerful idea: that communities, even those in remote, rural areas, can take control over their land when they dream big and tenaciously cling to their vision,” said Peter Howell, executive Vice President of OSI’s Conservation Capital Program, which made its largest-ever commitment to support the project. “The Downeast Lakes Land Trust is to be congratulated for this monumental achievement. OSI is honored to have been able to support their work.”
“This is a tremendous milestone for landscape-scale conservation in the Northeast,” said DLLT Executive Director David Montague. “This would not have been possible without the hard work and generosity of a committed staff, volunteer board, and a diverse, nationwide network of supporters who recognize the unique natural and cultural heritage of this special place.”
Looking ahead, the West Grand Lake Community Forest will be combined with DLLT’s adjoining Farm Cove Community Forest—created in 2003, also with the help of a combined $3 million from OSI to protect the land and an adjoining easement—managed by DLLT. Included in the West Grand Lake Community Forest are the Amazon-Musquash Reserve and Special Management Area, with a conservation easement held by the Forest Society of Maine.
Land for the West Grand Lake Community Forest was purchased from The Lyme Timber Company of Hanover, NH, and protects over 17 miles of lake shore and over 90 miles of stream shore. Bordering Big Musquash Stream on the eastern side and West Grand Lake on the western side, West Grand Lake Community Forest adjoins the Farm Cove Community Forest to the west and the Sunrise Easement to the north and south.
In addition to OSI and DDLT, other funders for the project have included the US Forest Service, The Land for Maine’s Future, the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, The Conservation Fund, Sweet Water Trust.