Project improves access to recreation and protects ecologically treasured area.
MILLINOCKET, ME — August 2, 2016—Nearly
nine miles of Maine’s East Branch of the Penobscot River has been permanently
preserved by the Open Space Institute (OSI). The preservation of the
undeveloped shoreline guarantees and improves access to one of Maine’s best
wild canoeing rivers, while protecting the river’s ecological assets.
The project marks OSI’s first direct
acquisition in the state of Maine, building on a 15-year conservation track
record during which the organization made grants and loans totaling more than
$13 million, helping Maine’s conservation groups and agencies protect more than
1.3 million acres.
The newly-completed project was made
possible by a committed group of conservation partners including OSI; the
Butler Conservation Fund and its subsidiary Maine River Trails; and The Nature
Conservancy. The project totals 4,342 acres and will improve recreational
opportunities on the East Branch for locals and visitors alike, with plans for
campsites, a welcome center, canoe launch sites and trails.
While OSI will maintain ownership of the
property, The Nature Conservancy holds a conservation easement on the river
corridor property. The land transaction was facilitated by the seller of the property,
Conservation Forestry, a timberland investment firm based in Exeter, New
Hampshire. Maine River Trails will develop and manage recreational improvements
on the land.
“The addition of the East Branch lands
builds on OSI’s efforts to help conserve Maine’s recreational lands, pristine
rivers and working forests,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s President and CEO. “We are
grateful to our project partners and are particularly excited that through
these new recreational opportunities and programs for families and students, we
are laying the groundwork to support the next generation of land stewards and
“This stretch of the East Branch offers outstanding
paddling,” added Elliman. “Making this land more accessible will enhance
recreational opportunities to get more kids out on the river and in the woods.
By guaranteeing and investing in more recreational opportunities this will
provide a much-needed economic shot in the arm.”
The land features undeveloped shoreline,
easy-to-moderate-difficulty paddling with reliable flow, and spectacular stands
of mature silver maple floodplain forests. It also hosts high quality Atlantic salmon
With the land now conserved, public access
will be improved for paddling and new trails will be constructed and maintained
for hiking, biking, skiing, and snowshoeing. Traditional uses such as hunting
and fishing will continue and the land will remain on the tax rolls.
The property will be incorporated into the
Butler Conservation Fund’s Maine Outdoor Education Program, which exposes kids
to physical activities in nature, helps promote good health, and develops an
appreciation for the outdoors, nature, and conservation. The programs are run
in collaboration with the local school systems.
Local groups, including the Katahdin
Tourism Partnership, have identified the need for additional well-maintained
and easily-accessible recreation activities in the region as a means to extend
the visits of tourists and help local businesses. Located just 22 miles from
Millinocket and 14 miles from East Millinocket, the project helps fill that