Maine organizations receive $1 million federal grant to protect over 13,000 acres of wildlife habitat

October 5, 2020

Maine organizations receive $1 million federal grant to protect over 13,000 acres of wildlife habitat

3 federally Endangered, 3 federally Threatened, 6 state Endangered, 4 state Threatened species to benefit.

Portland, ME September 18, 2020—Four Maine conservation organizations will share a $1 million grant from the federal North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) to conserve a wide range of valuable undeveloped wetlands in both inland and coastal Maine.  The grant marks the second federal investment in Maine bird habitat made with NAWCA funds this year.

The Conserving Maine’s Coast and Headwaters II project will permanently protect 13,270.1 acres of wetlands and surrounding upland buffers. It is a continuation of the Maine Wetlands Conservation Initiative spearheaded by Maine Coast Heritage Trust to protect interconnected prime coastal and interior wetland bird habitat.

The four organizations sharing the NAWCA grant are the Appalachian Mountain Club, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, New England Forestry Foundation and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

The largest portion of the grant, $400,000, will support the acquisition of the 10,843.5-acre Pleasant River Headwaters Forest East tract in Piscataquis County by the Appalachian Mountain Club as part of its Maine Woods Initiative. This innovative project combines land conservation, resource protection, sustainable forestry, outdoor recreation, and community partnerships. Located in the upper Penobscot River watershed, the tract includes over 1,000 acres of wetlands, 35.6 miles of river and stream frontage, and 4 miles of undeveloped lake and pond frontage. It is located within the globally significant Northern Forest Block Important Bird Area. The property contains a network of snowmobile trails maintained in partnership with local clubs and will remain open for hunting and fishing.

Additional properties conserved under the grant include 189.5 acres on Centers Point, in the heart of Merrymeeting Bay, acquired by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust; 19.5 acres on the south shore of Crawford’s Creek, also in the Merrymeeting Bay watershed, purchased by the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust; 124.3 acres at Old Pond, along the Skillings River in the downeast town of Hancock; and the 2093 acre Venture Brook tract in Washington County, to be owned and managed by the New England Forestry Foundation.

Together, these projects will conserve habitat for a wide range of bird species, including waterbirds American Bittern, Bald Eagle and Snowy Egret; shorebirds Red Knot, Semipalmated Sandpiper, American Woodcock, Whimbrel, Solitary Sandpiper and Lesser Yellowlegs; landbirds Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Rusty Blackbird, Canada Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher and Wood Thrush. Conserving these 13,270.1 acres will protect bird habitat threatened by residential development, intensive and unsustainable commercial forestry, or non-point source pollution. All tracts will provide public access for walking, picnicking, and bird watching. Where recreational fishing, snowmobile and ATV trails exist, they will continue.

Match funding to help secure the grant came from the R.K. Mellon Foundation, The Conservation Fund, the Helen Clay Frick Foundation, and the Elliotsville Foundation. Public agency partners include the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For more information, contact Amy Lacey-Plumley, Director of Digital Marketing and Media Relations for the Appalachian Mountain Club at (617) 391-6563;

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Eliza Townsend

AMC's Maine Conservation Policy Director