Beginning in the 1990s, Maine residents witnessed dramatic land sales of Maine’s North Woods. The extent and nature of those transactions and the insufficiency of public funds still reminds us that the places that Maine people value and depend on are vulnerable. From 1998 through the early to mid-2000s, 40% of Maine’s land or 8,955,407 acres changed hands in Maine’s North Woods.
A brief chronology of transactions:
November 2016 Apple and The Conservation Fund donated a conservation easement on the 32,400-acre Reed Forest the two organizations purchased in 2015. The easement will protect recreational activities like hunting and fishing and requires timber management plans for the working forest to take into account water quality, habitat, scenic value, and other conservation considerations.
September 2016 Tall Timber Trust purchased 290,000 acres from Canopy Timberlands LLC. The purchase involved two major blocks of forestland spanning Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Aroostook counties.
August 2016 Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. donated approximately 87,500 acres east of Baxter State Park to the people of the United States. President Barack Obama designated the land as Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument on August 24, 2016, the eve of the centennial of the National Park Service.
July 2016 The Downeast Lakes Land Trust purchased 21,870 acres of forestland from Lyme Timber Company. The parcel is on the east side of West Grand Lake Stream and includes 17 miles of shoreline on West Grand, Lower Oxbrook, and Big lakes.
March 2016 Weyerhaeuser purchased Plum Creek, which transferred ownership of approximately 861,000 acres of Maine forestland into the control of Weyerhaeuser, a global forestland owner.
April 2015 The Conservation Fund received an undisclosed sum from technology giant Apple to purchase 32,400 acres of forest in southern Aroostook County known as Reed Forest. The Forest Society of Maine holds the easement on this property.
December 2012 Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. (EPI) purchased 8,315 acres adjoining Baxter State Park from the Forestland Group of Chapel Hill, N.C. The land is comprised of 6,467 acres west of the East Branch and 1,848 acres east of the river and it bordered north and south by conservation property owned by EPI. EPI is owned by Roxanne Quimby’s family.
December 2011 Lyme Timber Company purchased approximately 3,200 acres of forestland on the Schoodic Peninsula adjacent to Acadia National Park. Maine Coast Heritage Trust has a five-year option to purchase a conservation easement on 1,500 acres adjacent to Acadia.
October 2011 Huber Resources sold the entirety of its land holdings in Maine (600,000 acres) to Conservation Forestry, LLC of Exeter, N.H. The land is located mainly in Penobscot County and a large parcel abuts Baxter State Park’s northern border.
January 2011 John Malone purchased 1,003,000 acres from GMO an investment firm that had acquired much of the old International Paper timberlands ranging from Western, Central, to Downeast Maine. With his purchase Malone became one of the largest landowners in Maine and the largest individual landowner in the Nation.
December 2010 H.C. Haynes, a logging contractor and developer acquired 103,000 acres from The Forestland Group in the Downeast region of Maine and Aroostook County. The Forestland Group, an investment firm with acreage throughout the US and Canada, owns other subsidiaries with landholdings in Maine such as the Heartwood Forestland Fund.
December 2009 Conservation Forestry of Exeter New Hampshire purchased 64,300 arcres from Huber Timberlands an old family line ownership firm based in Maine. Conservation Forestry is an investment firm that according to their website “that aligns private equity with conservation capital for the purpose of acquiring and managing large forest landscapes.”
December 2009 Tall Timbers Trust acquired 110,00 acres in the headwaters region of the St. John River from Stetson Timberlands. This expanded Tall Timber Trust’s ownership to 350,000 acres in the St. John/Allagash Rivers region.
November 2008 Lyme Timber Company purchased 22,150 acres of forestland on the east side of West Grand Lake. The property contains 17 miles of undeveloped lakeshore along West Grand, Lower Oxbrook, and Big lakes.
April 2008 Tall Timbers Trust purchased 240,000 acres from Clayton Lake woodlands in the Allagash/St. John Rivers region.
July 2007 Pinnacle Forest purchased 310,000 acres from Timberstar. Both companies are investment groups with limited public information. The acreage was subject to a conservation easement at the time of the purchase.
September 2006 Roxanne Quimby purchased 23,000 acres from H.C Haynes/Crawford for slightly more than $10 million. The land is located to the east of Baxter State Park, and just south of Katahdin Lake.
April 7, 2005 Fraser Papers sold 240,000 acres to a partnership that will manage the land and continue to provide Fraser with wood fiber. Fraser said it sold the property, which is mostly in the southeastern portion of Aroostook County, to Heartland Forestland Fund V for $80.5 million. The partnership is owned by The Forestland Group, which owns and manages about 1.5 million acres of timberland in 11 states, but none in New England until the deal with Fraser.
December 14, 2004 Plum Creek announced that it has signed an agreement to purchase 48,500 acres of timberland in Maine’s Moosehead Lake and Sebec regions. This acquisition includes 19,000 acres in the town of Bowerbank, 8,900 acres in Beaver Cove Township, and 20,600 acres in Indian Stream and Squaretown Townships.
November 10, 2004 International Paper announced a definitive agreement to sell its Maine and New Hampshire forestlands, totaling approximately 1.1 million acres, to GMO Renewable Resources, LLC, (GMORR) a private forest investment management company, for approximately $250 million, or about $250/acre. The new landowner plans on keeping the land in SFI certification.
November 2004 White Birch LLC sold 61,000 acres in the upper St John Valley to Timbervest, an investment company from Georgia. The new land owner has indicated that is will continue lease to the maple syrup industry who has nearly $40 million dollars invested in the land.
April 2004 H. C Haynes purchased all of T 37 in Washington County, nearly 24,000 acres for an unknown amount from IP. Included in this purchase are the Old Stream Lakes and Chain Lakes.
March 3, 2004 Roxanne Quimby purchased 9,894 acres in Township 3 Range 7 east of Baxter State Park for $4 million from Hancock Timber Resources Group. This property contains most of the northern third of T3R7 including the East Branch of the Penobscot River, the Sebois River, and Wassataquoik Stream and abuts the state’s 2,340-acre public reserved unit on the Wassataquoik.
March 2004 A Connecticut investor group called White Birch Paper Ltd. acquired the 61,689 acres in the St John River Valley along the western border with Canada along with mills and land in Quebec, from Enron.
January 24, 2004 Hancock Timber Resources Group sold a 5,103 parcel in Township 1 Range 7 NWP to Linkletter Timberlands LLC for $1.056 million.
January 22, 2004 Silas Ames Sr. and sons purchased 6,035 acres in Township 3 Range 9 for $1.903,000 from Hancock Timber Resources Group.
January 6, 2004 Governor John Baldacci on Monday announced completion of a $31.8 million deal that bars development across 329,000 acres in the heart of Maine’s North Woods. The West Branch Project, which was launched four years ago, encompasses the state’s largest contiguous tract of undeveloped forest ever granted permanent protection.
December 9, 2003 The Appalachian Mountain Club bought 36,691 acres in the heart of the famed Hundred Mile Wilderness to establish a Maine base of operations. The land, known as the Katahdin Iron Works (KI) property, was purchased from International Paper Co. (IP) in a transaction facilitated by the Trust for Public Land (TPL). Located 10 miles east of the town of Greenville on Moosehead Lake, the property includes most of Township 7 Range 9, the western part of Bowdoin College Grant East township and the eastern part of Bowdoin College Grant West township.
November 24, 2003 Roxanne Quimby purchased all 24,083 acres of Township 5 Range 8 WELS from Irving Woodlands LLC for $12,041,500. The East Branch of the Penobscot River flows through this township adjacent to Baxter State Park.
October 9, 2003 The Machias River Project Phase one closes protecting more than 210 miles shoreline and portions of six key tributaries. A mix of conservation easement and outright purchase will conserve nearly 25,000 acres at a cost of $7.8 million. The partners in Phase I of the Machias River Project include International Paper, the Atlantic Salmon Commission, the Maine Department of Conservation, the Machias River Watershed Council, Maine’s Congressional delegation and The Nature Conservancy.
October 3, 2003 MeadWestvaco Corp. has reached an agreement to sell 629,000 acres of forestland in Maine and New Hampshire to a group of anonymous buyers for more than $125 million. The land will be managed by Wagner Forest Management Ltd. of Lyme, N.H., which represents the buyers and has agreed to a 50-year contract to supply wood to the Rumford mill.
September 9, 2003 The Nature Conservancy and one of Maine’s most active logging contractors, H.C. Haynes Inc., reached an agreement to conserve nearly 10,000 acres and more than 12 miles along Spring River and the West Branch of the Narraguagus River. The property, known as the Spring River block, abuts the state’s Donnell Pond Unit, and would create a 24,000-acre swath of conservation land in Hancock County.
August 27, 2003 Herb Haynes and William Gardner, two of Maine’s most successful logging contractors-turned-landowners, have signed agreements to buy 47,000 acres for a total of $30 million or more bordering the east side of Baxter State Park.
August 7, 2003 Carrier Timberlands bought 30,000 acres from Hancock Timber resources for $12.2 Million. This purchase includes the south slopes of Whitecap and boarders both the Appalachian Trail and Gulf Hagas.
June 7, 2003 The New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) and the Downeast Lakes Land Trust announce the Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership. The project involves three purchases: The Spednic Lake/St. Croix River shoreline conservation corridor (3,019 acres) will be acquired by the State of Maine, a purchase that closed on March 20, 2003. The Farm Cove Peninsula lands (27,080) westerly of Grand Lake Stream will be purchased and managed by the Downeast Lakes Land Trust. New England Forestry Foundation will purchase a conservation easement over the “Sunrise Tree Farm” and acquire an easement over Farm Cove from Downeast Lakes Land Trust.
June 1, 2003 Herb Haynes and his son, Jay Haynes, bought Irving’s interest in 12,500 acres of Township 5 Range 7 and Township 4 Range 7 on the east side of the East Branch, and within view of Baxter State Park. Haynes reportedly paid $6 million, or $475 an acre for the parcel.
March 20, 2003 The New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) and its partners raised more than $2.5 million to purchase a 500-foot, 50-mile conservation corridor on Spednic Lake and the upper St. Croix River, which they assigned today to the people of the State of Maine. The project completes a decade-long conservation effort by the State, the Province of New Brunswick, the St. Croix International Waterway Commission and the Woodie Wheaton Land Trust to protect one of the most pristine stretches of boundary water in eastern North America.
March 3, 2003 Hancock Timber Resources Group announces that they will put 212,314 acres out to bid – their entire ownership in the Northern Forest. 55,459 acres of this bid package is in Maine Including two parcels adjacent to the Appalachian Trail.
December 9, 2002 The Trust for Public Land purchased and donated nearly 3,800 acres of land on the summit of Tumbledown Mountain to the state, along with a conservation easement on 7,800 acres surrounding the mountain.
Fall 2002 McDonald has placed 25,531 acres for sale around Loon Lake and Caucomgomoc Lake in the northwestern corner of Piscataquis County, marketing it as a kingdom lot. This outstanding property is bordered on two sides by Pingree Forest easement lands and on a third by The Nature Conservancy’s St John River holdings.
September 27, 2002 MeadWestvaco announced that it plans to sell 700,000 acres of “non-strategic” lands in its portfolio. The company owns nearly six million acres worldwide and 550,000 acres in Maine, most of it around Flagstaff and the Rangeley Lakes. While MeadWestvaco has not yet identified which, if any, non-strategic areas in Maine it plans to sell, the company owns a large tract in the headwaters of the Androscoggin River, an area the Northern Forest Alliance has identified as a high priority area for land conservation.
August 2002 International Paper announces plans to sell off 17,760 acres in seven different parcels. The largest parcel is 6421 acres and the smallest is 585. Most of the parcels are on former Champion International lands, and fueled fears in Downeast Maine, that IP will be slowly selling off it’s holdings leading to forest fragmentation and timber liquidation.
May 22, 2002 Billionaire entrepreneur John C. Malone has purchased the 53,524-acre Frontier Forest parcel in the western mountains from Hancock Timber Resources Group, for 14 million dollars. A local group had been pressing for state acquisition of the parcel.
August 27, 2002 Great Northern Paper, Inc. and The Nature Conservancy today announced an unprecedented partnership designed to protect both jobs and forestland around Mount Katahdin. The nonprofit conservation group has agreed to provide low-cost, long-term financing for Great Northern Paper. The company will place a conservation easement on 200,000 acres of forestland around Mount Katahdin, which will guarantee public access, traditional recreational uses, sustainable forestry, and no future development. In addition, the company will transfer 41,000 acres in the fabled Debsconeag Lakes wilderness area to the conservation group.
December 7, 2001 The northern region operations manager for International Paper’s forest resources division says that approximately 90,000 acres of the company’s Maine timberland has been sold and he anticipates selling an additional 40,000 acres. Several recent sales have included: 8,349 acres in Whiting, Edmunds, Northfield, Marshfield, and Whitneyville to H.C. Haynes, a Winn timber-harvesting company for $1,588,125; 2,681 acres in Cutler, Trescott, and Whiting to DMG Enterprises of Dennysville; and 6,000 acres in Addison, Columbia, Columbia Falls, and Jonesboro to Worcester Holdings LLC of Columbia.
November 2001, An 8,300-acre parcel of mountain peaks, lakes, ponds and streams – billed as the Saddleback Lake and Mountain Preserve – is listed on the market with Sotheby’s International Realty for $12 million. According to a brochure, Sotheby’s claims, “ The entire property has been conceptually identified as appropriate for large-scale development…Alternatively, the property could represent the ultimate retreat for a family or a select group of individuals to relish its natural setting…”
Summer 2001, Hancock Timber Resources Group lists 85,700 of its acres for sale with LandVest’s Timberland Group. The 53,524-acre “Frontier Forest” is listed for $17,750,000 and the 32,181-acre “Katahdin Forest” is listed for $11 million.
July 31, 2001, Plum Creek Timber Company’s intentions to sell 89 lots on First Roach Pond, located east of Moosehead Lake and adjacent to the village of Kokadjo in Frenchtown Township become public. The plan calls for 62 shorefront lots and 27 back lots to be created on 272 acres around the lake. The lots are clustered in nine areas and range in size from two to eleven acres. An additional 163 acres of land surrounding the clusters would be held in common by the lot owners.
April 18, 2001 Mead Corp., an Ohio-based corporation, sells 20,000 acres of remote forestland to Richard H. Brown, a wealthy Texas technology company executive. The transaction encompasses nearly all of the East Middlesex Canal Grant which includes shoreline on Moosehead Lake, remote ponds including most of Spencer Pond, remote mountains including Little Spencer, and vast forestland.
January 30, 2001 Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Co., Ltd. of Japan announced today that it has entered into an agreement for the sale of the shares of Daishowa Forest Products Ltd., which includes 60,000 acres of land in Maine’s St John valley known as the Ste-Aurelie timberlands. The agreement was signed between Enron Industrial Markets, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Enron Corp. of the United States and Daishowa North America Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Daishowa Paper.
October 12, 2000 The Maine Times reports that Hancock Timber Resources Group is selling 44 percent, or 150,000 acres of its Maine lands. According to Henry Whittemore, Hancock’s Northeast forester, investors want to cash out to realize profits and/or to raise money to invest in other geographic areas. The lands include part of or are adjacent to important natural landmarks such as the Attean-Holeb lakes, the Katahdin Iron Works/Gulf Hagas area, Bald Mountain Pond and the Appalachian Trail.
July 2000 Plum Creek sells 7,500 acres of pristine shorefront property on Spencer Lake to billionaire media mogul John Malone. Having already owned over 8,000 acres, the Plum Creek deal gives Malone complete ownership of the entire shoreline on Spencer Lake. The deal signifies that Plum Creek is ready to sell some of its 905,000 acres to private individuals. The purchase price was estimated at $10 million, or $1,330 an acre. Spencer Lake is located in the middle of the Northern Forest Alliance’s Western Mountains Wildland.
June 6, 2000, Central Maine Power Company announces it is selling 5,000 acres of land along two of the state’s prime white water rafting rivers – the Kennebec and the Dead. The State, which has “first dibs”, hopes to buy and protect the property. The property includes some of the most primitive river frontage in the Northeast.
April 25, 2000 International Paper (IP) made a successful bid to acquire Champion International Company after engaging in a bidding war with UPM-Kymmene of Finland. Included in IP’s new holdings are 913,000 acres of Down East Maine, including extensive stretches of the Machias, East Machias and Narraguagas Rivers and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, most of 4th and 5th Machias Lakes. The new company will also own the 1,000-employee Bucksport paper mill.
August 12, 1999 International Paper Company sells 245,000 acres of timberland surrounding 10 miles of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway to Clayton Lake Woodlands LLC for an undisclosed sum. The key partners in Clayton Lake Woodlands are Logging and Lumber, a sawmill subsidiary of Materiel Blanchet of St. Pamphile, Quebec, and Pelletier & Pelletier, a logging company based in Fort Kent.
July 28, 1999 The Bangor Daily News discloses that Bowater will sell approximately 380,000 acres of forestland and two mills in Maine to Inexcon of Quebec, Canada, for $250 million. The parcel includes land surrounding the three Debsconeag Lakes, Rainbow Lake and forestlands extending from the shores of Chesuncook Lake east to Baxter State Park and south to the state’s Nahmakanta tract.
April 26, 1999 Georgia Pacific announces it is selling 446,000 acres of land in Washington County to unidentified investors for an undisclosed amount. G-P’s lands in Washington County include headwaters of the Machias, East Machias, and Dennys Rivers, extensive shoreline along the St. Croix River, the largest of Maine’s Grand Lakes, and extensive shoreline along many of the most pristine Down East lakes.
April 9, 1999 Georgia Pacific Corp. confirms it is negotiating to sell 446,000 acres of land in Washington County; the same day they announce the sale of all of their Canadian timberlands — 390,000 acres –to the province of New Brunswick for $41 million.
March 25, 1999 Governor King, the Trust for Public Land, and Plum Creek announce a $5.26 million land swap and purchase deal that awaits legislative approval (SINCE APPROVED). If funded, the public would own of 65 miles of shoreline on Moosehead and Flagstaff lakes and the Kennebec River. As part of the complex deal, the Trust for Appalachian Trail Lands plans to purchase 4,000 acres on Mount Abraham from Plum Creek and donate the land to the state. Also, conservation easements would be placed along parts of the Dead and Kennebec rivers in Bowtown Township.
March 18, 1999 Three Alabama-based corporations — New River Ltd., Franklin Ltd., and Buckfield Timber LLC of Birmingham – purchase 91,000 acres of Maine woodland from a United Timber Corp. subsidiary, as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy agreement with its creditors. Foresters are inventorying the acreage to determine which lands may be sold for development. The lands include forests near Mount Blue State Park and the much-enjoyed Tumbledown and Blueberry Mountains.
December 15, 1998, International Paper sells 185,000 acres of remote land along the St. John River to The Nature Conservancy for $35.1 million. The land will be protected from development.
November 2, 1998 Bowater, Inc. announces it is selling 656,000 acres of forestland in Maine to McDonald Investment Company, Inc. of Birmingham, AL, for $155 million. The parcel includes land north of Moosehead Lake, surrounding Lobster Lake, and the headwaters of the St. John River, including the entire Baker Branch watershed and three remote ponds as well as major stretches of the West Branch of the Penobscot River.
October 21, 1998 Bowater announces that it is selling 911,000 acres of timberland and a sawmill in Maine to J.D. Irving Ltd. of Saint John, New Brunswick, for $220 million. When the sale was finalized, on March 12, Bowater Inc. announced it had sold 981,000 acres, plus the sawmill, for $216 million. The sale includes lands from the east side of Chamberlain Lake to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and Baxter region, the confluence of the St. John and Allagash Rivers and three complete townships adjacent to the eastern border of Baxter State Park, including shoreline on the East Branch of the Penobscot River and Katahdin Lake.
October 19, 1998 South Carolina-based Bowater, Inc. announces that it will explore selling a substantial amount of its 2 million acres of Maine forestlands.
October 6, 1998 Plum Creek Company, LP of Seattle, Washington announces their purchase of 905,000 acres from South African Pulp and Paper International (Sappi) for $180 million – less than $200 per acre. The lands include 60 miles of undeveloped shoreline along Moosehead Lake, more than half of the shoreline of Spencer Lake, the Moose River Bow Trip region, Bald Mountain Pond, many miles of shoreline of the Kennebec River, and high-value mountains near the Appalachian Trail including most of Mt. Crocker, and portions of Mt. Abraham, Spaulding Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain.
June 3, 1998 Sappi Fine Paper North America, a subsidiary of South Africa-based SAPPI Limited, announces that they have put all of their Maine timber holdings on the market.