BROWNVILLE, Maine — Many from away may think of Maine for its coasts, lighthouses, and lobster, but for many Mainers, the real part of the state can be found inland.
A celebration was held in honor of the efforts to preserve the inland part of that state for recreation and conservation. Recently, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) purchased 27,000 acres of land for $18.5 million.
“It is a very big deal for us. It is a vision that we have had for the almost 20 years," Interim President and CEO of the Appalachian Mountain Club Susan Arnold said. "We have been working here on what we call the Maine Woods Initiative, which is a multifaceted conservation model that involves community partnerships, working with schools and educators, sustainable forestry, recreation, and tourism — encouraging people to come to this absolutely glorious part of Maine.”
The property was initially secured by The Conservation Fund, which purchases land in all 50 states for local groups, like AMC, while they raise money to purchase the land themselves.
This recent land purchase was of the Pleasant River Headwaters Forest in Piscataquis County. It is an addition to the many acres they already own between Greenville and Baxter State Park.
The land will add to 130 miles of recreational trails for hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing, and the like, as well as preserve more land for wildlife conservation.
"It is important for people — it’s important for the economy here in this region of Maine," Arnold said. "But it is also really critical for the planet as we learn more about climate change and the natural climate solutions we have at hand here in the north Maine woods."
AMC has also been very involved in restoring fish habitats, including the native brook trout and the endangered Atlantic salmon. Due to dam removals on the Penobscot River, the Atlantic salmon is spawning and overwintering in the middle branch of the Pleasant River for the first time in 180 years.
In total, the club has purchased more than 100,000 acres of forest and fish habitats in Maine and has invested more than $87.5 million in its nearly 20-year-old Maine Woods Initiative project.
Over 30 leaders from organizations were in attendance of today’s celebration, including the Office of Senator Susan Collins, Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation, North Maine Woods, Inc., the USDA, and the Town of Greenville.