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Forest Society of Maine announces completion of milestone conservation project near Gulf Hagas and Whitecap Mountain

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The Forest Society of Maine (FSM) is celebrating the completion of the permanent conservation of thousands of acres of productive forest land and access to popular recreation lands near Gulf Hagas and Whitecap Mountain in Maine’s North Woods in Piscataquis County. After four years of collaboration with the forestland owner, the state Bureau of Parks and Lands, and conservation partner Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, an area used by thousands of people annually is permanently conserved for hunting, fishing, hiking, snowmobiling, and camping.

Completing the Gulf Hagas–Whitecap project resulted in many lasting achievements including conserved the view from 11 miles of the Appalachian Trail corridor in the region known as the 100-Mile Wilderness; enhanced public access to key popular recreational amenities including numerous campsites, hiking trails, Gulf Hagas, the Katahdin Iron Works State Historic Site, and a segment of the popular Interconnected Trail System for snowmobiles; protected Eastern brook trout and Atlantic salmon habitat by conserving five miles of frontage on the Pleasant River and 24.5 miles of cold water brooks and streams; and maintained productive forest land to help the landowner keep their business competitive and to continue employing hundreds of Maine residents.

“The Gulf Hagas–Whitecap project adds to Maine’s public lands. It is a wonderful example of how programs such as the Forest Legacy Program and Land for Maine’s Future Program can bring economic benefits for forestland owners, outdoor recreation businesses, and the people of Maine,” stated Karin Tilberg, FSM Executive Director. “The project lands support important fish and wildlife habitat and have been enjoyed for generations,” she added.

The FSM worked with Pine State Timberlands—a Maine-based forest products company and landowner—to develop a conservation future for the property. With the acquisition complete, the state of Maine owns 1,264 acres of highly significant recreational and ecological lands and holds an adjoining 7,138-acre conservation easement that ensures sustainable forestry, ecological protections, and public recreational access. Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust has become the owner of 1,574 acres of high elevation lands that are part of the view seen from the Appalachian Trail.

To complete this project FSM raised $4.4 million and Pine State Timberlands donated the high elevation lands. The help of many partners and supporters made this project successful. Essential funding included grants from the Forest Legacy Program of $1.7 million and $325,000 from the state’s Land for Maine’s Future program. Additional leadership gifts were provided by the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, the Knobloch Family Foundation, the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. FSM recognizes the critical leadership of Maine’s congressional delegation in supporting the Forest Legacy Program and grant for this project.

“The Gulf Hagas-Whitecap project helps to conserve one of the most celebrated places on the entire Appalachian Trail: Whitecap Mountain and the 100-Mile Wilderness,” stated Simon Rucker, Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust executive director. “The donation of the high-elevation parcel permanently protects three mountains along the A.T. corridor, headwaters streams that empty into the West Branch of the Pleasant River, and the White Brook Trail to the summit of White Cap. The Appalachian Trail Conservation Landscape Initiative has identified this part of Maine as one of its top 10 focus areas for its large-scale landscape and ecological importance.”

The FSM extends its deep gratitude to all the people and organizations whose help resulted in permanently conserving these thousands of acres of woods and waters in Maine’s North Woods.

The FSM, established in 1984, has helped landowners, families, and communities to conserve more than a million acres of forestland across the state for sustainable forest products, recreation, habitat for fish and wildlife and historic and cultural values. More information about the Forest Society of Maine can be found at www.fsmaine.org.

Photo courtesy of Erica Kaufmann
LAND CONSERVATION — The Forest Society of Maine celebrates the completion of the permanent conservation of thousands of acres of productive forest land and access to popular recreation lands near Gulf Hagas and Whitecap Mountain (pictured). After four years of collaboration with the forestland owner, the state Bureau of Parks and Lands, and conservation partner Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, an area used by thousands of people annually is permanently conserved for hunting, fishing, hiking, snowmobiling, and camping.

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