AMC Roach Ponds Tract Q&A, Maine Woods Conservation – AMC Newsroom

October 7, 2009

November 9, 2009

Q: What is being announced today?

A: The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) is announcing its purchase of the 29,500-acre Roach Ponds tract from Plum Creek Timber Company. The property includes portions of Shawtown Township and T1R12, and is bounded on the north by the state’s Nahmakanta Unit and on the south by the Appalachian Trail corridor, AMC’s Katahdin Iron Works property, and the state’s Beaver Cove Unit.

Q: What is the significance of this purchase? 

A: The Roach Ponds tract has been a vulnerable “missing link” in an otherwise protected corridor of conservation land running some 63 miles along the Appalachian Trail corridor from AMC’s Katahdin Iron Works (KIW) property near Moosehead Lake to Baxter State Park and Katahdin. AMC’s purchase of the Roach Ponds tract will complete a contiguous, permanent conservation corridor linking nearly 650,000 acres of critical conservation lands within the 100-Mile Wilderness region. It hosts significant water and timber resources and provides habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and plant species. Just as important to hikers and backpackers, the purchase protects and enhances the Appalachian Trail viewshed by buffering more than 20 miles of the trail corridor. The purchase also permanently protects the headwaters of the West Branch of the Pleasant River, a native brook trout fishery prized by anglers. AMC’s purchase is part of a broader Conservation Framework created by Plum Creek, The Nature Conservancy, the Forest Society of Maine, and AMC which will increase the contiguous conserved area to nearly 800,000 acres.

Q: How will this land be protected and managed?

A: As part of the purchase, AMC has placed an easement on the Roach Ponds parcel that will permanently protect it from development, while enabling sustainable forestry, permanent public access, and creation of new trails open to the public. This easement will be held by the Maine Bureau of Public Lands. Given the tract’s rich natural resources, including uncommon plant communities and habitat suitable to rare species, AMC also intends to manage a portion of its property as an ecological reserve, to complement an existing 10,000 acre reserve on the Katahdin Iron Works tract. The boundaries of the new reserve have not been determined. The overall management plan for the parcel still needs to be finalized, but it will be managed for recreation, conservation, and sustainable forestry.

Q: What was the purchase price of the property?

A: AMC purchased the Roach Ponds tract for $11.5 million. The purchase was made possible by the financial support of AMC members, foundations, and friends, The Nature Conservancy and other supporters of the organization’s Campaign for the Maine Woods, an ongoing fundraising effort in support of the Maine Woods Initiative. No public funds were used in this acquisition.

Q: Will the public have access to the property?

The purchase of the Roach Ponds tract is part of AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative, an innovative approach to conservation that combines outdoor recreation, natural resource conservation, community partnerships, and sustainable forestry. In keeping with the overarching goals of the initiative, AMC will provide public pedestrian access for hiking, hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing and mountain biking on the property. Access is guaranteed by an easement on the property.

Q: Can snowmobiles or ATVs access the property?

A: Snowmobiles will be allowed to cross the Namakanta Road via ITS 85/86. This trail will be subject to a permanent easement once the Plum Creek concept plan is approved and all appeals have been settled. In addition, access to a popular ATV trail that encircles First Roach Pond and enters and exits on the Roach Pond parcel will continue to be provided. In addition, AMC and Plum Creek have agreed to reroute an ATV trail that is currently close to AMC’s Medawisla Wilderness Lodge and Cabins onto Plum Creek property to the west, and AMC has already begun construction of a bridge across the Roach River, at its own expense, to allow for this new route for ATV users. As part of the LURC-directed easement, AMC has been asked to “limit motorized activity” on the property and provide for a “primitive non-exclusive recreation experience” as part of the overall mitigation for the Plum Creek development. There are no plans to allow for ATV use in the interior of the property. AMC will be working with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) and its neighbors to develop a comprehensive trail plan. AMC will be working with BPL to provide for an ATV trail north of the Namakanta Road to provide for access to the Namakanta Unit. Other snowmobile trails and access are under discussion with neighboring land owners and BPL.

Q: What significant natural resources are on the property?

A: The property contains the upper reaches and headwater ponds of two significant rivers–the West Branch of the Pleasant River and the Roach River. The property also includes nine Great Ponds, seven of which (Second Roach, Third Roach, Fourth Roach, Trout, Beaver and First West Branch Pond and Long Bog) are located entirely within the property. About 90 percent of Second West Branch Pond and 60 percent of Penobscot Pond are located within the property.

Q: Are hunting and fishing allowed on the property?

A: Yes, hunters and anglers are welcome to hunt and fish on the property, subject to state fish and game regulations.

Q: What other recreational opportunities does this purchase offer?

A: This purchase provides a permanent connection between four sporting camps (three owned by AMC, and one of private, fourth-generation ownership) through hiking, skiing and biking trails, adding to the region’s growing reputation as a destination for unique, backcountry recreation in the 100-Mile Wilderness region. Over time, we envision a permanent camp-to-camp ski trail to connect Medawisla Wilderness Lodge and Cabins with Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins and Gorman Chairback Lodge and Cabins to provide unique camp-to-camp skiing and dog-sledding opportunities. In addition to camps and lodges, AMC plans to create additional overnight campsites. There are numerous paddling and fishing opportunities on the Roach Ponds tract which will make excellent day or overnight trips. We also envision a network of hiking and mountain biking trails for day use. Our vision is to help build and enhance the region’s reputation as a four-season outdoor recreation destination.

Q: How does the Roach Ponds tract figure into the Conservation Framework?

A: As a result of the Conservation Framework, AMC has purchased the Roach Ponds Parcel for $11.5 million. The Framework partners will purchase an easement on 266,000 acres of the Moosehead Legacy Easement, an additional 97,000 acres of land will be added to the Moosehead Legacy Easement by Plum Creek as part of the mitigation, and The Nature Conservancy has purchased the 15,000-acre Moose River parcel. In total, the Conservation Framework will result in the conservation of nearly 400,000 acres, representing the second largest conservation easement in United States history.

Q: Does the purchase of this property by a nonprofit take it off the tax rolls?

A: AMC’s operation in Maine, AMC Maine Woods Inc., is paying property taxes on the land and will pay timber tax on timber harvested on the Roach Pond property, as it does on its Katahdin Iron Works property.

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Rob Burbank

Director of Media and Public Affairs
(603) 466-8155