OSI & Sebago Clean Waters mark a milestone in innovative efforts to tap forests for clean water.
In a region where forests face myriad threats — including climate change, invasive species, development, overharvesting, and an aging cohort of woodlot owners — the recent protection of more than 12,000 acres in western Maine is very big news.
The Crooked River Headwaters project, several years in the making, highlights an unusual collaboration among conservation groups, a pair of landowners, and a water utility. It also strengthened the capacity of local land trusts to achieve similar deals in the future, while introducing a new and creative funding strategy for land conservation — setting the stage for more successes down the line.
Of the project’s 12,268 acres now permanently protected through a new conservation easement, 7,500 acres are located along the Crooked River, the largest tributary of Sebago Lake. Protection of the forested land that drains into the lake, the source of drinking water for one in six Maine residents and 11 communities including the city of Portland, is the objective of Sebago Clean Waters (SCW) — a coalition of which the Open Space Institute (OSI) is a founding member.