"Let's improve the forever wild characteristics with strobe lights"
|Contacts: Ralph Knoll, Bureau of Parks & Lands; 287-4911
Tim Glidden, Land for Maine’s Future Program; 287-1487
Elbridge Cleaves, Prentiss & Carlisle Management Co.; 942-8295
Augusta, Maine (May 19, 2003)
Over 3,200 acres of forest land and shore land in southern Aroostook County will be permanently protected from development under a land deal announced today by the Maine Department of Conservation. The Department acquired lands and a conservation easement surrounding the southern end of Mattawamkeag Lake and the West Branch of the Mattawamkeag River southeast of the Town of Island Falls. The land and easement was purchased by the State from Wayne and Maxine Farrar of Tavares, Florida and formerly of Houlton, for the price of $756,200, about fifteen percent less than its appraised value.
“Through this purchase, we have assured that Lower Mattawamkeag Lake will forever retain its wild character and guaranteed future public access to these lands for fishing, hunting, boating, and camping,” stated Conservation Commissioner Patrick McGowan. Over seven miles of undeveloped lakeshore shoreline is included in the purchase along with three miles of frontage on the West Branch of the Mattawamkeag River.
The acquisition was funded through a combination of state and federal funds. State funding came through the Land for Maine’s Future Board. LMFB Chair, George Lapointe, commented, "It's rare that a conservation project can protect productive working forests, beautiful lake frontage, large undeveloped islands, and historical sites in a single parcel. In this project we can support the local economy and preserve valued public recreational opportunities in this wonderful corner of the County.”
The landowners first proposed the project to the State in the mid-1990s, but public funding for the project only became available in the last few years. “The Farrars are to be complimented for their foresight and perseverance in bringing this great project to a successful conclusion," said McGowan. He also commended Prentiss & Carlisle Management Company, Inc. of Bangor, Maine, manager of the Farrar lands, for their important role in bringing the acquisition project together.
As part of the deal, the State acquired two parcels of land on Mattawamkeag Lake: 126 acres on Big Island and 64 acres on Long Point. The island includes an extensive stand of old growth timber. Long Point includes a popular water-access campsite. Mattawamkeag Lake is ranked by the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission as a lake of statewide significance--its highest ranking--due to its significant scenic, wildlife, fishery, and cultural values. The area is popular with anglers, campers, boaters, snowmobilers and hunters. It includes the beginning section of an extended backcountry canoe route down the West Branch of the Mattawamkeag River.
In addition, the State acquired a conservation easement over an additional 3026 acres of lakeshore, forestland and wetlands, prohibiting development and ensuring that the land will be managed sustainably for timber production. The land will remain open to the public for traditional recreation uses such as fishing, hunting, hiking, snowmobiling, camping, and boating. As part of the agreement, the Bureau of Parks and Lands has the right to develop and maintain campsites, boat launch and trails on the easement property.
The landowners have long-time roots in the Houlton, Maine area. Wayne Farrar owned and managed his own logging operation and later in his career began to acquire timberland interests in the Haynesville-Mattawamkeag Lake area. According to Farrar, these lands have been especially meaningful because many family members, both past and present, have derived a livelihood from these woods. “We are thankful to have had a long history associated with the State of Maine and are now especially proud to be protecting a part of our heritage. We hope our efforts at Mattawamkeag Lake will serve as a catalyst for the protection of much more of this special part of the State of Maine,” stated Farrar.
Federal funding for the project came through the Forest Legacy Program, a federal land conservation program focused on maintaining the nation’s multiple-use forest lands. “The Forest Service is pleased to be a partner in the Mattawamkeag Lake Forest Legacy project, another in a series of high quality Forest Legacy projects in Maine that offers public recreation opportunities, while at the same time allowing timber management activities to occur,” stated Deirdre Raimo, Forest Legacy Program Manager with the United States Forest Service. To date, the Forest Legacy Program has assisted with the protection of over 55,600 acres of threatened forest land in Maine.
The property abuts the State’s 27-acre Bible Point ownership, made famous by Teddy Roosevelt who visited the area beginning in 1878. Roosevelt camped at the southern end of Mattawamkeag Lake and hunted and fished throughout the area. It was reported that, each day, Roosevelt would take his bible and hike to a beautiful point of land at the confluence of the West Branch of the Mattawamkeag River and First Brook where he would read the bible. A plaque at the site commemorates Roosevelt's love for the area with the following inscription:
"This place to which a great man in his youth liked to come to commune with God and with the wonder and beauty of the visible world is dedicated to the happy memory of Theodore Roosevelt."
Conservation Commissioner McGowan commented that, “It is only fitting that the State has taken action to protect these lands that were an inspiration to one of our nation’s foremost conservationists.”