The productive forestlands that extend from Moosehead Lake to the headwaters of the St. John River lie at the heart of Maine’s North Woods. This region bordering the legendary West Branch of the Penobscot River is rich in history, folklore, and tradition, and remains a vital resource today – providing timber that fuels the regional economy, habitat for critical species like Canada lynx and pine marten, and abundant recreational opportunities. Recognizing the need to sustain all the public values of this productive forest, dozens of businesses, civic and conservation groups endorsed the West Branch project–an ambitious plan to protect the region’s economic, recreational and ecological values.
The Forest Society of Maine, state, and other partners labored more than three years to complete this 329,000-acre project, conserving the largest contiguous tract of land ever protected in Maine–an area 1.5 times the size of Baxter State Park, with hundreds of miles of lake and river frontage. The state acquired nearly 47,000 acres in fee, including recreational lands around Seboomook Lake and historic Pittston Farm, and areas of great ecological sensitivity around Baker Lake and several of the St. John ponds. The state holdings are managed by the Bureau of Parks and Lands. In addition to the state’s purchase, the Forest Society of Maine holds an easement on 282,000 acres that will remain in private ownership and managed for forest products. The easement provides for sustainable forestry while preserving the land’s ecological integrity and protecting a long heritage of traditional recreational access.
Working closely with many partners, the Forest Society of Maine raised the $12 million of private funds needed to match contributions from the Land for Maine’s Future program and the Forest Legacy Program, which provided more than $19 million in federal funds with the strong support of Maine’s Congressional delegation.
Maine Highlands – Piscataquis, Penobscot
Directions from nearest town
DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer, Map 47 A-4/5, B-4/5, C-4/5, D-4/5; Map 48 A-1/2/3, B-1/2/3/4, C-1/2/3/4, D-1/2/3/4/5. Access from Greenville is by the Pittston Farm Road along the west side of Moosehead Lake or the Kokadjo Road on the lake’s east side and then by the Golden Road. From Millinocket, access is by the Golden Road. Campsites, picnic areas, and other recreational uses are currently managed on behalf of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands by North Maine Woods, Inc. Contact NMW for maps and additional information regarding campsites and access.