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1750-acres Conserved in Kennebago Headwaters

On Wednesday, Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust (RLHT) completed the purchase of 1,731 acres of forest, shorefront, and wetlands, including over two miles of undeveloped shorefront and uplands surrounding 190-acre Little Kennebago Lake and nine miles of frontage on the upper Kennebago River from Crowley Brook to Little Kennebago Lake.

Partners on the project include Bayroot, LLC, Wagner Forest Management, Black Brook LLC, The Conservation Fund, the Firebird, PARC, and Summerhill Foundations, and many generous private donors. This parcel is the fourth RLHT conservation project completed with Bayroot, LLC and Wagner Forest Management (landowner and manager), including the South Bog Conservation Area, the Cupsuptic Lake Park and Campground, and Height of Land.

 

The Conservation Fund provided bridge financing to allow RLHT to close on this purchase while a significant fundraising campaign continues. According to the Fund, a lack of timely funding can impede the urgency and pace of conservation. The Conservation Fund’s loan program offers flexible financing and sustained and expert technical assistance to land trusts and other organizations aiming to protect fundamental properties in their communities. Since their first loan in 1993, they have helped partner organizations achieve their conservation goals, providing more than $235 million in nearly 400 loans to 190 partners. These projects have protected more than 155,000 acres across 40 states—lands valued at more than $450 million.

 

RLHT plans to manage the land for its significant fish and wildlife habitat and public recreational use. Through acquiring these lands, the Trust has secured public access for such traditional uses as hiking, fishing, boating, hunting, and trapping.

 

The Trust’s current acquisition is part of a larger Kennebago Headwaters project to conserve what many consider the finest wild brook trout resource in the United States and a watershed with exceptional habitat for fish, wildlife, and birds. Thanks to its varied elevations and complex hydrology (deep lakes, bogs and wetlands, and streams), the Kennebago Headwaters is also a bastion of fish and wildlife resilience in the face of climate change. Once complete, the project will have permanently conserved a total of 10,300 acres.

 

The recent acquisition follows the purchase in November by project partner Black Brook LLC of over 3,000 adjacent acres, including previously unconserved lands along the shores of Kennebago Lake and the surrounding wetland area known as the Logans. RLHT and Black Brook, LLC are currently working on conservation easements to conserve those acres permanently. The project’s final phase will involve RLHT’s purchase of an additional 5,000 acres of working forest, which RLHT will manage with a priority goal of conserving fish and wildlife habitats and enhancing climate change resilience. Forest management will focus on increased carbon storage, sequestration, and sustainable harvesting for long-term health, productivity, and diversity.

 

Regarding the recent acquisition and the overall Kennebago Headwaters project, RLHT Executive Director David Miller said, “Efforts to conserve the Kennebago Headwaters have been years in the making. Knowing how important this area is to the nation’s angling heritage, the ecology of the western Maine mountains, and the Rangeley community, we’re especially excited to see our project surging ahead.”

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