by Amy Sinclair
NECN news story
The historic agreement between the Nature Conservancy and Plum Creek protects 363, 000-acres of forest land around Moosehead Lake, including 80 ponds, 800 miles of river frontage and 200 miles of lakeshore around Maine’s largest.
“So folks are welcome, they have access now to go hiking, go fishing go boating,” said Mike Tetreault, the Nature Conservancy in Maine’s executive director. “There are 160 miles that are part of this deal.”
The addition of the “Moosehead Region Conservation Easement” will also knit together more than 2 million acres of conserved forest across northwestern Maine.
“That’s an area the size of Yellowstone National Park,” said Tetreault.
The landowner, Seattle-based Plum Creek, is getting plenty in return for this easement. In addition to the $10 million, Plum Creek has secured the right to rezone 4 percent of this parcel for development.
While that sounds like a small percentage, it could end up being the largest development in state history.
“That re-zoning would allow for 821 residential units and 1,024 resort units, but going forward it’s still a rigid permitting process,” said Luke Muzzy, a Senior Land Asset Manager for Plum Creek.
The nature conservancy says it was a good trade.
“This is what I would call smart growth,” said Tetreault. “The development is close to the towns, it’s fairly concentrated.”
But the Natural Resources Council of Maine, which has fought the project since the get-go in 2005, remains wary about the potential scale of the resorts and subdivisions.
“We think it’s important to have development, but not so much development that you end up ruining the place that people love to come to,” said NRCM Executive Director Lisa Pohlmann.
The development will take place slowly over 30 years, but Greenville, Maine’s town manager says this land agreement should help the local economy now.
“Just the access alone will perpetuate a lot of people coming up to recreate,” said Manager Gary Lamb.
Knowing from this day forward, they will always have unrestricted access to some of the most beautiful water and woods on the East Coast.