BRIDGTON, ME (June 28, 2016) — The Open Space Institute (OSI) has helped the Town of Raymond and Loon Echo Land Trust establish Maine’s newest community forest. The project offers multiple long-term benefits for the town, including safeguarding clean drinking water, lakes and wildlife exceptional scenic views.
Encompassing 356 acres, the new land was purchased by Loon Echo Land Trust—with the help of OSI’s Community Forest Fund, the Raymond Conservation Commission and other partners—from Hancock Land Company for the town of Raymond. Conservation of the land, now called “Raymond Community Forest,” fulfills a primary goal of the town’s Open Space Plan.
“We commend Raymond’s citizens for coming together to protect this important forestland—a place that will long provide so many economic and environmental benefits to their community,” said Jennifer Melville, OSI VP for Conservation Grants and Loans.
OSI’s Community Forest Fund helps rural communities in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont launch community forests, homegrown land conservation projects where citizens work together to protect woodlands and their many values.
“This property has many valuable assets that we mapped during our planning process including water quality and habitat protection, trail and recreation opportunities, a forest resource that can help support our economy, and a fabulous view from the top of Pismire Mountain,” said John Rand, Chairman of the town’s Conservation Commission. “In sum, this is one of Raymond’s Special Places that our plan sought to protect.”
Looking ahead, the land trust and community members are developing recreational plans for the land. Plans include establishing a parking area and developing hiking trails leading to the cliffs of Pismire Mountain. Plans for the lower elevation forest include low-impact multi-use trails such as walking, hiking, cross country skiing/snowshoeing and mountain biking.
Traditional uses such as hunting will continue. The property has also had a long history of sustainable forest management. Over the long term, the property will continue to provide income through timber harvesting that can support the land and trails.
The effort to save Raymond community forest began when Hancock approached Loon Echo to initiate a partnership between the company, Loon Echo Land Trust and the Town of Raymond. In May of 2013, a detailed proposal was presented to the Raymond Board of Selectmen. The Board provided a vote of support for Loon Echo to enter into the a purchase agreement with Hancock that provided time to raise funds to protect the land.
The final push to raise funds was achieved with OSI’s grant award and after Raymond's residents voted overwhelmingly to contribute an additional $6,800 for the project.
In addition to OSI’s contribution, the hard work and dedication of the Raymond Conservation Commission and the citizen-based Steering Committee, Loon Echo Land Trust, the Town of Raymond, Portland Water District, Lands For Maine's Future, Norcross Wildlife Foundation, Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, David Conservation Foundation, William P. Wharton Trust, Camp Agawam and over 200 individuals and families, helped permanently conserve the property.