Local and regional organizations have partnered to purchase and protect a 3,000-acre parcel of land near Moosehead Lake, the organizations announced last week.
The Forest Society of Maine and the Friends of Wilson Pond, the two organizations driving the effort, announced the purchase on Jan. 10. The land is less than a mile from the southeastern shores of Moosehead Lake in Greenville, and its ridgeline is easy to see from the lake.
“It really defines the viewshed from the lake looking east,” said Karin Tilberg, Forest Society of Maine’s president and CEO.
It abuts Prong Pond, including two miles of its shore, and sits right between the headwaters of both the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers, which Tilberg said makes it “a very important ridgeline.”
Kay Johnson, president of Friends of Wilson Ponds, said the land houses habitats for several species of birds and other animals.
“It is very important to the hunters and the fishermen and to people who use the property to walk on,” she said.
The land’s previous owner, Winn-based Lakeville Shores, famously maintained a proposal to develop 18 40-acre lots on the property.
Now, the land is technically under the ownership of Scammon Ridge Headwaters LLC, an investment group founded in part by the Maine Mountain Collaborative and the New England Forestry Foundation, two forest conservation groups.
Both The Forest Society of Maine and Friends of Wilson Pond raised more than $2 million toward purchasing the conservation easement that now protects the land, the groups said in their announcement.
Both groups credited the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Maine Community Foundation and the Maine Mountain Collaborative, along with leadership grants from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act as “essential” contributors.
The groups also noted more than 120 year-round and seasonal residents of Greenville and Beaver Cove also donated. Tilberg said the communities donated because they recognize how critical tourism is to local economies.
“Having a natural undeveloped land from the lake, looking up the hills, is part of it,” she said. “It’s why people come there.”
Moosehead Lake is a known tourist destination with a large number of restaurants and hotels on and around its shores, but already hundreds of thousands of acres of woodland is protected to the lake’s north.
Even still, Johnson said, ongoing interest in new development makes working to add to protected open space in the area essential.
“We have seen a huge influx of people as vacationers and as people purchasing property, so we’ve seen that really mushroom since COVID hit us,” she said. “A lot more property’s been sold and developed to some degree, and so we’re hoping to keep some of it undeveloped for everybody else to use, and the public, and hunters, and fishermen, and wildlife enthusiasts, mushroom foragers and that sort of thing.”
The newest purchase, according to the conservation groups, is among the largest single largest pieces of protected land in Greenville.
“It fills in a critical gap in the conserved landscape there,” Tilberg said.