The state buys a 2-mile stretch of property that includes a beach and sweeping mountain views.
By Kevin Miller, Staff Writer
Portland Press Herald news story
The state of Maine has acquired roughly 2 miles of shoreline on the northern end of Moosehead Lake, preserving an undeveloped parcel in a remote area popular with paddlers, snowmobilers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands acquired the 81 acres in Little W Township just west of Northeast Carry on Dec. 15, after several years of negotiations with the Forest Society of Maine and six cousins whose family has owned the land for more than a century.
The parcel will be added to roughly 41,000 acres of the state-owned Seboomook Unit surrounding Seboomook Lake that features campsites, snowmobile trails and whitewater rafting along the West Branch of the Penobscot River. The state manages the Seboomook Unit for sustainable forestry and recreation.
Karin Tilberg, deputy executive director of the Forest Society of Maine, said the deal provides an additional connection between the Seboomook Unit’s inland forests and Moosehead Lake. With its sheltered location along the shore of Moosehead – a notoriously dangerous lake in windy conditions – the parcel also offers a safe but scenic area for camping, picnicking and other activities a short distance from the historic township of Northeast Carry.
“This is 2 miles of completely undeveloped shoreline,” Tilberg said.
The state purchased the 81-acre parcel from the descendants of the late Blin W. Page of Skowhegan. The state received $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Legacy Program – secured with the support of the state’s congressional delegation – as well as grants from several conservation organizations to cover the $895,000 price for the land and all acquisition costs.
“The family approached the state, and we are grateful to the family because they did agree to sell the parcel for below the market value,” Tilberg said.
Deborah Sealey, one of the six cousins, said her great-grandfather Edward Page bought land in Little W Township in 1904 because he was in the lumber business. Page died several years later and the land passed down through the family over the decades.
Then in 1970, a relative sold more than 1,000 acres to Great Northern Paper but held onto the shorefront parcel in case family members ever wanted to build a camp on the site, Sealey said.
The state acquired the Seboomook Unit in 2003 and approached the family about the 81-acre lot, which is the largest undeveloped private “inholding” within the 41,000-acre Seboomook Unit. Sealey said the family wasn’t ready then but that the cousins, all of whom are in or approaching their senior years, decided several years ago that it was time to part with the parcel.
“We could have developed it but we didn’t want to do that,” she said. “We wanted it to go to the state.”
Located in the northeastern corner of the lake, the parcel offers a beach and sweeping views of the mountains that comprise Maine’s “100-mile Wilderness” – a famed section of the Appalachian Trail – as well as of Moosehead Lake and Mount Kineo. Although more remote and difficult to access than the southern part of Moosehead, the shoreline along the northern section of the lake features some development.
The township of Northeast Carry earned its name because it has been used for centuries, beginning with American Indian tribes, as a canoe portage corridor between Moosehead and the West Branch of the Penobscot River. Henry David Thoreau portaged through Northeast Carry during one of his explorations of the Moose-head Lake region that informed his book “The Maine Woods,” and the portage is still used today by paddlers, including those traversing the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
“The Moosehead Lake region is supported economically by the many visitors that frequent the area in all seasons,” Robert Hamer, co-director of the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, said in a statement. “We are pleased with this project as it opens another door to Moosehead Lake, while at the same time protects its natural beauty, which is the main draw for so many visitors.”
Funding for the purchase was also provided by the federal government’s Land and Water Conservation Fund grant program, the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Thoughtforms Inc., Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation and the Davis Conservation Foundation.