TOWNSHIP OF COBURN GORE – An undeveloped 8,175-acre forest owned by the same family since 1970 is now forever preserved and permanently protected on both sides of National Highway 27.
It is home to “an important piece of part of American Revolutionary War history – the Benedict Arnold Trail,” according to a press release from the Forest Society of Maine.
The organization announced on Monday that it holds conservation easements on the property. Of the 8,175 acres, 7,075 acres are logged forests, which will continue, and 1,100 acres are designated as an ecological reserve, Karin Tilberg, the company’s president and chief executive, said Monday.
The entire forest landscape supports “sustainable forest management, important wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and historic features”.
The company, established in 1984, raised $4.2 million in public and private funds to secure the easement.
The Coburn Gore Forest Conservation Project, which was previously an unprotected forest within a conservation corridor, is now permanently preserved from development, Tilberg said.
The property is on both sides of State Highway 27, which runs through northern Franklin County to the Coburn Gore border crossing into Canada.
“If this family didn’t have the vision for conservation, this area would most likely be developed,” she said. “It’s just wonderful that this family has this vision and wants to keep the forest.”
The project lands have belonged to the same family since 1970 and have been managed by the same family of loggers ever since.
The Coburn Gore Forest connects conserved lands in Maine to public lands in Quebec, both public recreation and wildlife management areas and Nature Conservancy of Canada lands. Together, the properties create a network totaling nearly 200,000 acres, according to the release.
“This project builds on the growing awareness that Maine’s forests are globally significant, containing tracts of contiguous, undeveloped forest at a landscape scale,” Tilberg said in the release. “It also honors the tradition of stewardship of family forest owners.”
The ecological reserve is a sensitive area with very significant bogs, older forests, a deer wintering area and significant natural forests, she said. It now has an extra layer of protection.
The Coburn Gore Property contains headwaters that flow to the chain of ponds, the Dead River and ultimately the Kennebec River.
These cold-water ponds and streams, surrounded by undeveloped forest land, are critical to maintaining the high-quality brook trout resource the area is known for, the statement said. Conservation area ponds include Crosby Pond and Arnold Pond.
The many wetlands on the property provide habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, including bald eagles, osprey, several species of hawks and woodpeckers, migratory songbirds, bats, and several rare plants. Two ponds in the project area support breeding pairs of loons each summer.
The property is truly an important area for water quality and wildlife, Tilberg said.
These lands are highly rated for their resilience to climate change. Large landscapes with elevation gradients, such as this forest, allow species to adapt to changing climatic conditions, and this project will continue to support biodiversity of fauna and flora in the future, the statement said. .
A travel route established by the area’s early inhabitants and later used by European settlers crosses the project land, Tilberg said.
“It’s a big project, because this area is one of the still relatively pristine areas of Arnold’s Walk that is important to preserve,” Arthur Spiess, principal archaeologist with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, said in the press release. “By preventing future development, this conservation easement preserves Indigenous routes and history in perpetuity.
Many supporters made the success of the project possible. Vital information about the project lands was provided by the company’s partners: Arnold Historical Society, Maine Natural Areas Program, The Nature Conservancy and US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Critical funding for the property’s conservation included four-person leadership grants, the Bafflin Foundation, Davis Conservation Foundation, Jane’s Trust, Lookout Foundation, Maine Community Foundation Arboretum Fund, North American Wetlands Conservation Act and US Fish and Wildlife Service Loon Mitigation. Funds. The society also recognized “the essential support provided by (eight) additional foundations and organizations and more than 100 other individuals”.
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