It was great news for sure. After years of work, Maine has purchased the Cold Stream forest, 8,159 acres near the Forks that includes more than 3,000 acres of deer wintering area and lots of fantastic wild brook trout habitat
For more than a decade ago, Trout Unlimited, and the state identified Cold Stream as a priority. It protects the trout fishery in the Kennebec and Dead Rivers, seven undeveloped ponds which make up the headwaters of Cold Stream, and 5 miles of Cold Stream itself.
The Trust for Public Land and Trout Unlimited made the purchase, using a variety of funding, and transferred the land to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, where it has become part of the state’s Public Reserve Lands.
“For generations the economy and culture of northern Maine has been tied to the land,” said Wolfe Tone, Maine Director of The Trust for Public Land. “Our mission is to protect land for people and this purchase will make sure future generations can enjoy the rich experiences this property has to offer. It is a great example of what can be achieved when sportsmen and sportswomen, business owners, conservationists, and state and federal agencies come together.” Indeed it is.
But it could be the last wildlife habitat conservation project, at least for the next several years. The funding for this purchase, $7.34 million, came from the US Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program (FLP) and the Land for Maine’s Future Program (LMF). The federal program, which is funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, provided $5.5 million with the strong support of Maine’s congressional delegation. LMF provided an additional $1.5 million toward the $7.34 M project.
I served on state’s advisory board for the Forest Legacy Program when it was first launched, and for several years Maine got most of the funding, until other states woke up to the possibility. Since then, we have generally received Legacy funding for one project each year. But last year Governor Paul LePage broke that successful string, refusing to submit a request for Forest Legacy Funding for a state conservation project.
Until we’re rid of the Governor, I don’t expect we’ll get any more Legacy funding, which is essential for some of these conservation projects.
“Our environment is an integral part of both our state’s identity and its economy, which is why we all have a responsibility to work together to preserve our natural resources for the benefit of generations to come,” said Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, in a joint statement. “In protecting the Cold Stream Forest, we are taking another step forward in building on the long and proud traditions of conservation, public access to recreation, and working forests in our state that support jobs. We applaud The Trust for Public Land for their work in preserving this beautiful and vibrant area, and we pledge to continue to support federal initiatives, like the Forest Legacy Program, that help make these projects possible.”
Well, Susan and Angus get it. So why doesn’t our governor?
Cold Stream is the first completed project to be supported by LMF under new guidelines, enacted by the legislature, that place increased emphasis on conserving northern Maine Deer Wintering Areas.
“LMF has always been important to sportsman, but we have worked hard to expand the LMF Program to place more emphasis on properties important to carrying on Maine’s sporting traditions, including protecting the northern Maine deer herd,” said David Trahan, Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. “This is a landmark day for conserving land for everyday Mainers.”
Well, for everyone except the guy in the Blaine House.