Transborder fund helps preserve a river for Atlantic salmon in Maine's high peaks

MADRID TOWNSHIP, ME —January 12, 2015— Twenty miles of critical habitat for federally endangered Atlantic salmon has been protected through a conservation easement on a tract of land that is an important wildlife corridor between the US and Canada. The parcel, located in Maine’s High Peaks region, was conserved with grant support from the Open Space Institute’s Transborder Fund.

The 5,774-acre Orbeton Stream parcel is the latest, southernmost addition to an effort to combine and consolidate a large regional expanse of preserved properties. With the finalization of this $1.6 million easement, the property, which had been under threat of potential subdivision and development, is preserved as the last remaining working forest parcel in Madrid Township. Orbeton Stream will link up with a regional conservation effort now standing at 77,000 preserved acres (120 square miles). The 11,798-acre Crocker parcel, also conserved with support from OSI in 2013, is contiguous with Orbeton Stream to the north.

Lying in view of and adjacent to the Appalachian Trail Corridor, the property’s size and connectivity can facilitate movement of boreal songbirds and wide-ranging mammals such as moose and black bear. Orbeton is especially prized among ecologists for its habitat supporting eastern brook trout and Atlantic salmon: in 2007, because of restoration work by the Maine Department of Natural Resources, salmon reared in the Orbeton watershed returned from the North Atlantic Ocean for the first time in more than 150 years.

 “OSI is delighted to work with the Trust for Public Land and its partners on the protection of this latest piece in the High Peaks, which has been identified as an important wildlife corridor in the region,” said Jennifer Melville, OSI’s Vice President of Conservation Grants & Loans.

“Keeping forests as forests benefits all of us by safeguarding recreation and access important to Mainers,” said Wolfe Tone, Maine State Director for the Trust for Public Land.

OSI’s Transborder Fund offers grants and loans for projects that will enhance the protection of the Northern Appalachian Acadian eco-region of the eastern United States and southern Canada. The Orbeton Stream property lies between heavily impacted areas in Southern Quebec and encroaching development from the south.

As of early January 2015, the Transborder Fund has awarded 19 grants totaling $1.34 million to assist in the protection of 32,500 acres of exceptional wildlife habitat in three states and three provinces.

Of the $1.6 million easement purchase price for Orbeton Stream, $1.28 million came from the USDA’s Forest Legacy Program, funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund and administered by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. The Land for Maine’s Future Program supplied $150,000, while OSI gave a grant of $100,000. Additional funds were provided by Wildlife Conservation Society, Fields Pond Foundation, John Sage Foundation, and many generous private donors.

The Orbeton Stream property will continue to be owned and managed for timber by Linkletter Timberlands, a Forest Stewardship Council-certified local family-owned company. The land will remain a vital corridor for recreation, including snowmobiles and ATVs.

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