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Appalachian Mountain Club Maine Woods Initiative to be honored as district’s Outstanding Cooperator of the Year

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Each year the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District (PCSWCD) recognizes a cooperator in Piscataquis County who has implemented exceptional conservation practices on their land. This year, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) Maine Woods Initiative will be honored for their outstanding on-the ground conservation efforts, educational outreach and overall excellence in sustainable management of the land.

AMC Maine Woods Initiative (MWI) has a strong strategy for land conservation in the 100-Mile Wilderness region. The innovative approach to conservation includes outdoor recreation, responsible forestry and community engagement. AMC currently owns 75,000 acres of forest land including 27,000 acres of ecological reserve, 130 miles of recreational trails, three sporting camps, Forest Sustainability Council Certified-responsible forestry operation and partnerships with Piscataquis County schools. AMC’s lands are held under multiple conservation easements with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and the Nature Conservancy. Forever, AMC will permanently conserve more than 115 square miles of the Maine Woods including 17 lakes and ponds, 130 miles of streams, 3,500-foot Baker Mountain, buffer 17 miles of Appalachian Trail corridor, Caribou Bog and multiple stands of late-successional forests, wetlands and other critical wildlife habitats.

In 2011 AMC partnered with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to extend their ecological integrity and conservation services to the water. With NRCS help, AMC has completed 44 fish passage projects and counting.

“A big part of the conservation success story is the partnership with NRCS,” explains Steve Tatko, AMC’s land manager. Removing old culverts and replacing them with bridges opens the streams and restores habitat connectivity and fish passage. Their goal is to remove every barrier on Katahdin Iron Works, Roach Ponds and Baker Mountain tracts by 2022. With this stream restoration project heavily in progress and showing positive outcomes, AMC’s watershed restoration efforts are becoming a historical conservation accomplishment in our state.

Tatko and Ben Naumann, NRCS fish biologist, will be speaking more on the topic at our cooperator of the year event Sept. 21.

For the past five years, AMC has collaborated with PCSWCD for their annual summer Teen Wilderness Expedition, where children ages 12-16 can enjoy fun outdoor recreational activities and experience the diverse and expansive natural resources that we depend on in Piscataquis County. The PCSWCD staff along with the education staff at the Appalachian Mountain Club work together to develop an engaging program that offers something for everyone. There is fishing and hiking for the outdoor enthusiast, leadership skill building games for our future leaders, outdoor skills building, ample time to relax, kayak or swim with friends and so much more. AMC offers delicious family-style meals, rustic cabins and the overall experience of staying at one of AMC’s famous wilderness lodges. This experience is truly a trip of a lifetime and is always enjoyed by the youth that attends each year.

Not only does AMC partner with the PCSWCD to provide this exceptional program, but they partner with schools in Piscataquis County for other educational programs. PCSWCD Educational Coordinator Kacey Weber will speak on the Teen Wilderness Expedition, a partnership between the district and AMC. AMC also offers other educational programs such as the Youth Opportunity Program (YOP), which focuses on getting urban youth across New York, New Jersey and New England to get out and enjoy the outdoors, Custom School and Group Programs along with Family Adventures and Teen Trail Crews.

It is without question that AMC is doing outstanding and important on-the ground conservation efforts for Piscataquis County. Please join us from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21 at Medawisla Lodge as we honor AMC, our 2018 Outstanding Cooperator of the Year!

PCSWCD will be hosting a lunch buffet highlighting AMC’s beautiful new lodge and services. Registration for this event is required by Friday, Sept. 14. Tickets can be purchased at www.piscataquisswcd.org through our online store. For more information and to register, please contact the PCSWCD by calling 564-2321, extension 3 or emailing info@piscataquisswcd.org.

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