The Farm Cove Community Forest now includes the 27,080 acres acquired through the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership, and the 6,628 acre Wabassus Lake Tract, for a total of 33,708 acres. View a map of the Farm Cove Community Forest on the Downeast Lakes Land Trust website.
This brief description will focus on the effort to acquire the original 27,080-acre Farm Cove Community Forest. For more information on the property and its management, please explore the Visitor’s Guide and Your Community Forests sections of the Downeast Lakes Land Trust (DLLT) site.
It was the threat of subdivision, development, and loss of public access to the Farm Cove Community Forest lands that motivated the formation of the Friends of the Downeast Lakes and in 2001, DLLT. The fledgling land trust approached Wagner Forest management, the new managers of the former Georgia-Pacific company lands, with a proposal to purchase 40,000 acres to the west of Grand Lake Stream for management as a community forest. Wagner advised DLLT to scale back their proposal and to seek help.
This led to DLLT approaching the New England Forestry Foundation, a regional established conservation organization with a compatible mission and a recent track record of completing large conservation projects in Maine. NEFF brought conservation expertise, fundraising knowledge, and a substantial financial network throughout New England. DLLT brought local energy, local knowledge, and support from the local community.
Through the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership, DLLT negotiated with Wagner for purchase of 27,080 acres in T5 ND and T6 ND BPP, immediately to the west of Grand Lake Stream. Even more than the size of this purchase, these lands were notable for their 62 miles of lakeshore on West Grand, Pocumcus, Syladobsis, and Third and Fourth Machias Lakes.
DLLT negotiated to purchase the timber rights during the term of the option, to ensure the forest would not be heavily harvested before purchase. The partners agreed that NEFF would hold a conservation easement over the majority of the Community Forest land, with Sweet Water Trust acquiring a Forever Wild conservation easement over a new 3,560-acre ecological reserve at Fourth Machias Lake.
The Partnership would raise additional funds to cover the purchase of the 312,000-acre Sunrise Easement and the 50-mile Saint Croix Corridor, and to provide endowments to support land and easement stewardship in perpetuity.
The $34.8 million campaign began in 2003, and the land and easement purchases were completed in 2005. Bridge financing was used to complete the purchases, and the fundraising campaign formally concluded with an announcement in May of 2008.
Among the major benefactors was Elmina B. Sewall of Kennebunk, Maine, the largest individual donor, who contributed $6.2 million before her death in 2005; the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation subsequently granted another $1 million. Wal-Mart contributed $6.145 million through its “Acres for America” program administered by The Conservation Fund and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Other large donors included The Nature Conservancy, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Open Space Institute, C.F. Adams Charitable Trust, the State’s Land for Maine’s Future program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Sweet Water Trust. The North Cape Oil Spill Settlement Fund provided a grant of $1.15 million, through an agreement to protect loon breeding grounds following a 1996 oil tanker spill off Rhode Island that killed 400 wintering loons. Donors from Grand Lake Stream and all across New England recruited by DLLT, NEFF, and the Leadership Committee rallied around the cause.
*Information on this page reprinted with permission from the Downeast Lakes Land Trust.