October 22, 2017  
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Traditional Access to Rocky Lake Land Secured for Future Generations
Traditional Access to Rocky Lake Land Secured for Future Generations
Maine Coast Heritage Trust (a statewide land conservation organization) and The Conservation Fund today announced the conservation of 2,352 acres on the shores of Rocky Lake, Orange Lake and the Orange River in Whiting.

Traditionally a place for hunting, fishing, paddling and camping, the property had recently been available only for private use. Now owned by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, this formerly private land and lake shore is open to the public.

Local resident Tim Beal, who has paddled and fished on the lake for decades, is happy to hear MCHT is planning to open this land for hunting, fishing and recreation. “A lot of the lakes around here are getting hit with development and No Trespassing signs. It’s nice that some of the special places can be opened for folks like me.”

“Conservation of this significant parcel at Rocky Lake will deliver many benefits to the local community, including creating public access for recreation, assuring a healthy and sustainable ecosystem in the region, and strengthening the natural resource economy,” said MCHT President Tim Glidden. “We are grateful to The Conservation Fund and all those who are helping make permanent public access to this land a reality.”

The property is on the eastern shore of Rocky Lake and is almost entirely undeveloped, and includes six miles of scenic shore frontage. The Conservation Fund purchased the property in 2015 with generous support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and Keith Campbell Foundation, at the request of MCHT to help provide time for the groups to raise the permanent funding necessary. The property has now been conveyed to MCHT for permanent stewardship. “The Conservation Fund was delighted to assist in this acquisition and fundraising efforts. The best conservation is local, and MCHT has a tremendous plan for engaging the public in the stewardship of this important natural resource,” says Tom Duffus, Vice President of The Conservation Fund. “This project builds on our long-standing partnership with MCHT on the Bold Coast and other Downeast conservation efforts that support both the environment and local communities.”

Its location creates a large contiguous tract of protected wildlife habitat and exemplary wetlands, allowing wildlife to move unimpeded through a variety of habitats. Jennifer Melville, vice president at the Open Space Institute, commented, “OSI’s Transborder Fund invested in protection of Rocky Lake because it will benefit so many species – river herring, brook trout, bald eagles and migratory ducks – that move freely between the US and Canada.”

The project protects the water quality of Rocky Lake, which is a critical part of the Orange River watershed. A partnership of local, state and regional groups including Downeast Fisheries Partnership are working on restoring fish migration in the watershed, which will create a source of high-quality bait, help restore coastal ground fish populations, and provide more income for local fisherman. “Sea-run fish are essential to restoring the structure and function of our aquatic ecosystems,” said Anne Hayden, Coordinator of Downeast Fisheries Partnership. “MCHT’s protection of the Rocky Lake parcel provides both environmental protection and opportunities for local enjoyment and stewardship; it is a game changer for our efforts to restore the Orange River watershed.”

This spring, MCHT will be conducting a natural resource inventory and forest management plan for the property and will gather input from the local community to develop an overall management plan. Future uses of the property and the timing for formal opening to the public will be determined later in 2017. “Currently there is no signage or facilities ready for use, and there are a number of gates on the property.” notes Melissa Lee, MCHT’s Regional Land Steward. “We look forward to working with neighbors and area residents to gather input and take the necessary steps to make this new public preserve a real community asset.”

MCHT and The Conservation Fund issue the following joint expression of gratitude: “We thank the J.A. Woollam Foundation, Richard King Mellon Foundation, Butler Conservation Fund, Open Space Institute’s Northern Forest Transborder Protection Fund, the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, the Sam Shine Foundation, Davis Conservation Foundation, Due East Realty, and individuals who provided the necessary funds to acquire the property. And many thanks to the heirs of Arthur Houlihan: Thomas Houlihan, Christina and Bill Kelly and Joy Paige Houlihan-Brenner who contributed by selling the land to The Conservation Fund for conservation at less than its appraised value.”

MCHT is continuing its fundraising efforts on this project to improve access to and care for the property over time—including a $50,000 matching challenge offered by the J.A. Woollam Foundation to help reach the remaining funding goal of $325,000. For more information on how to help, contact MCHT at (207) 729-7366 or visit mcht.org.

Posted on Monday, April 3, 2017 (Archive on Monday, April 24, 2017)
Posted by Jym St. Pierre   Contributed by Jym St. Pierre
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