PORTLAND, Maine – Two western Maine properties totaling 13,640 acres that play a critical role in building climate resilience have been permanently protected after a four-year effort.
The 7,062-acre Quill Hill property and 6,578-acre Perham Stream property were conserved through a collaboration led by Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy in Maine the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, and included private landowners, public agencies, local businesses and more than two dozen conservation and economic development organizations.
The total cost of the conservation project wasn’t made public, but a large part of the funding was $8,045,000 from the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program, made possible by the Great American Outdoors Act and included in the 2022 federal omnibus spending package. Additional money for the project was through the U.S. Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program, which owns land in Redington Township, in between Quill Hill and Perham Stream, and will be an easement holder on the Quill Hill Property.
Both parcels are part of the traditional territory of the Wabanaki people, and still have ongoing significance for the tribes that make up the native population, a release from the Trust for Public Land announcing the deal, said.
The parcels are also key pieces of a region that’s a priority player in enhancing carbon storage and assuring species can adapt to a changing climate. The land, which is in Franklin County, east of Rangeley and adjacent to the Appalachian Trail, will be open to the public and managed through timber harvests.
“Quill Hill and Perham Stream are vitally important to the region’s economy, outdoor recreation, forest products industry, climate resilience, wildlife habitat, healthy watersheds, and quality of life,” the release said.
The Maine Department of Parks and Lands bought the Perham Hill property from Bayroot LLC, a timber investment firm with a presence in several states, including as Wagner Forest Management Ltd. In Lyme, New Hampshire, which manages more than 150,000 acres of forest in the Granite State.
The Perham Stream parcel is on the slopes of the 4,802-foot Mount Abram. It features a mountainous bowl around Farmer Mountain and two headwater streams in the Kennebec River watershed that provide important cold-water habitat – Perham Stream in the Sandy River watershed and Quick Stream in the Carrabassett River watershed, the release said. It is entirely open to public recreation, with almost 5,000 acres designated as an addition to the ecological reserve on Mt. Abram and 1,600 acres available for timber harvest by the state.
The Quill Hill parcel will still belong to its longtime owners, the Brochu family, but the state and U.S. Navy will hold a permanent conservation easement. Quill Hill was bought and developed into a popular tourist destination by lumber company owner Adrian Brochu., who died in 2019. It has a road to the summit, 360-degree views of Maine and New Hampshire’s mountains, and a universally accessible trail system and draws about 30,000 visitors a year. Its features include a universally accessible train system.
“To say that my late husband, Adrian, loved Quill Hill is an understatement,” said Celine Brochu. “In the winter, he would read every single comment left in the guest books, making his own notes in the margins. He spent long summer days at Quill – smoothing rough spots on the road, moving countless rocks, taking breaks to chat with visitors. Quill Hill always held a very special place in his heart. And mine. He often talked about how he wanted Quill Hill to be open and accessible to everyone forever.”
She said that she is incredibly proud of all he accomplished and grateful that the conservation effort has “realized his vision and permanently protected Quill Hill.”
Partners on the conservation project included Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy in Maine and the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. Aside from the federal money, other funding was from private donors and foundations including RA Capital, the EJK Foundation, The Betterment Fund, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Wild East Fund and the Maine Mountain Collaborative Transaction Fund.
“By opening access to the Quill Hill and Perham Stream properties, we’re helping to link more than 100,000 acres of public lands along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail to mitigate climate impacts and ensure access to the outdoors for all,” Betsy Cook, Maine state program director for the Trust for Public Land, said in the news release. “This space will be truly open to all, with ADA accessible viewing areas and hiking and outdoor recreational opportunities for every ability level and TPL is proud to work with project partners to protect this incredible landscape.”
Kate Dempsey, state director of the Nature Conservancy in Maine, said that conserving the two parcels is “is a critical step forward for Maine’s climate resilience, and a case study in collaborative conservation.”
The project “contains all the key elements that reflect Maine’s vision for conservation,” said Andy Cutko, director of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. “A privately owned working forest that supports Maine’s timber economy, ecological reserves that sustain biodiversity, and multiple-use public land that will benefit people and wildlife for generations to come.”
The effort was lauded by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who pushed for the federal funding.
Gov. Janet Mills said, “I’m thrilled that future generations will be able to experience the unmatched beauty of the Western Maine mountains from Quill Hill to Perham Stream. This extraordinary, collaborative conservation project will preserve access to some of the most breathtaking vistas in the state and set aside thousands of acres of land for recreation and wildlife habitat that will benefit generations to come. I thank the Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy for partnering with the Bureau of Parks and Land to make this extraordinary achievement possible.”