Near the newly protected forestland’s western boundary, Mills Stream provides clean water and food for wildlife including beaver, otter, moose, bear and brook trout. MAINE COAST HERITAGE TRUST PHOTO BY BRIDGET BESAW

Schoodic Forest to be conserved



WINTER HARBOR — Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT), a statewide land conservation organization, announced Monday that a gift has been finalized to secure the protection of 1,700 acres of forestland — the so-called “Schoodic Forest” — in Winter Harbor on the Schoodic Peninsula.

Protection of the Schoodic Forest is part of a longstanding effort to conserve a largely intact wildlife corridor stretching from the ocean to inland forest — one of the last of its kind on the Eastern Seaboard. Over the past four decades, MCHT has been working with partners, including Frenchman Bay Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, State of Maine and Acadia National Park to conserve over 55,000 acres in the “Schoodic to Schoodic” wildlife corridor, which extends from the Schoodic Peninsula to Schoodic Mountain in Maine’s Donnell Pond Public Reserved Land and continuing north.

“Habitat protection of this size and scope has become increasingly important and increasingly rare,” said MCHT project manager Bob DeForrest. “If we conserve these connected landscapes now, wildlife will have a greater chance of finding food and hospitable places to live as temperatures continue to warm. Conservation of this area will also allow for range shifts in plant life, which is critical to keeping ecosystems healthy and making Maine more resilient to climate change impacts.”

MCHT will manage the newly protected land with scientific assistance from Schoodic Institute. The primary goals are to maintain the mostly forested land as wildlife habitat, and to support research and educational opportunities.

“This property offers significant research opportunities for understanding rapid environmental changes to forests and improving resource management. This newly conserved land will be part of our ongoing efforts with MCHT and other partners to advance climate change adaptation science and include everyone in our science,” said Nick Fisichelli, Schoodic Institute President and CEO.

The organizations will work with local community members to ensure people will be able to access the land. The property, which was subject to an extensive timber harvest in the 1990s, is currently enjoyed by some locals for activities such as hunting. “We look forward to talking with the community about current use of the property and future scientific, educational, and recreational opportunities that this land can provide,” said DeForrest.

Conservation efforts began in 2011, when Schoodic Woods LLC purchased the property, then part of a 3,200-acre tract slated for development as an “eco-resort.” A 1,500-acre portion of this tract (south of Route 186), which includes the Schoodic Woods Campground, was later donated to the National Park Foundation and eventually Acadia National Park. The remaining 1,700 acres of woodlands and wetlands have remained under the ownership of Schoodic Woods LLC for the past ten years. On Dec. 17, however, Schoodic Woods LLC donated this remainder to MCHT for permanent conservation.

“Conservation of this tract of land represents an important milestone in the ongoing effort to further protect this highly significant wildlife corridor,” said outgoing MCHT president Tim Glidden. “MCHT has had a hand in over 40 conservation projects in this area over the decades. Conservation at this scale requires patience, perseverance, partnership, and significant investments by many stakeholders. Through this particular project, we are excited about the opportunities that will come through our partnership with the Schoodic Institute.”

 

 

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