An aerial view of Kilkenny Stream with Frenchman Bay and Mount Desert Island in the background. Frenchman Bay Conservancy has closed on the purchase of 1,400 acres in Hancock. The property and an adjacent 3,100 acres will form a community forest. FRENCHMAN BAY CONSERVANCY PHOTO

Frenchman Bay Conservancy closes on Hancock property



HANCOCK — Frenchman Bay Conservancy (FBC) has closed on the purchase of 1,400 acres in Hancock for its Frenchman Bay Community Forest project. The protection of this parcel is part of a larger 4,500-acre conservation project. An additional 3,100 acres of land abuts this parcel and is conserved through New England Forestry Foundation. FBC raised $900,000 toward the purchase and long-term stewardship of the Frenchman Bay Community Forest through foundation giving and individual donations to its public campaign, launched in summer 2020. 

The 4,500-acre Frenchman Bay Community Forest will be accessible from the Downeast Sunrise Trail, minutes from downtown Ellsworth. Free and open to the public, the Frenchman Bay Community Forest will provide opportunities for walking, hiking, biking and snowshoeing through a future network of trails. Frenchman Bay Conservancy is creating management plans for this property, including plans for building trails and community gathering spaces. 

Northeast Wilderness Trust, a regional land trust with a focus on wilderness conservation, helped make this Hancock conservation project possible through a financial contribution as part of its Wildlands Partnership initiative. Northeast Wilderness Trust has made a commitment to hold a conservation easement on the land.

“It has been wonderful working with the great staff at Frenchman Bay Conservancy to help conserve this extraordinary property through the Wildlands Partnership,” said Jon Leibowitz, executive director of Northeast Wilderness Trust. “The Wilderness Trust is honored be the holder of a forever-wild easement on the Community Forest, which will provide habitat for wildlife and an opportunity for people to connect with wild nature.”  

Frenchman Bay Conservancy is currently exploring enrolling the land in the trust’s Wild Carbon program. Wild Carbon compensates land trusts that permanently protect their land as “forever wild” by generating carbon offset credits on that land, which are then sold on the voluntary market. Carbon credits promise buyers that a property is sequestering and storing carbon, which contributes to global warming when in its gaseous form (carbon dioxide).

In 2020, communities across Maine turned to the outdoors for exercise, entertainment, and relaxation. With a greater demand for outdoor recreation comes the need to protect land for public use, according to FBC. Additionally, the non-profit expects the Community Forest to be a living outdoor classroom where groups can gather safely outdoors to learn about Maine’s unique natural resources, ecosystems and native species.

The forest is part of a nearly 25,000-acre undeveloped habitat block, likely the largest remaining undeveloped habitat block in Hancock County under 1 mile to the coast. Preserving the land will help protect the clean water in Kilkenny and Egypt Streams which flow into Kilkenny Cove and Egypt Bay. 

Frenchman Bay Conservancy produced an informational video in September 2020 about the Frenchman Bay Community Forest campaign, available to view on FBC’s website. To view the video and learn more, visit http://frenchmanbay.org/fbcf.

One comment
  1. Penny Evans

    March 17, 2021 at 9:58 am

    Delighted about this and look forward to visiting. The more places we have for tourists to visit the more it takes the intense pressure of Acadia National Park- which closely resembles a parking lot for weeks!
    But the system of carbon credits just permits business to continue to add to global warming. Takes the pressure of them to change. What can be done? Appreciate the new park though!

    Reply

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