U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Awards Multi-Million Dollar Recovery Land Acquisition Grant to the State of Maine for the Appalachian Mountain Club

A $4,164,975 grant will support the Appalachian Mountain Club’s acquisition of the 26,740-acre Pleasant River Headwaters Forest tract in Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness landscape.

Greenville, ME (October 7, 2021)—The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded the state of Maine a $4,164,975 Recovery Land Acquisition (RLA) grant to help conserve and permanently protect a 26,740-acre tract of Atlantic salmon habitat known as the Pleasant River Headwaters Forest (PRHF).

In partnership with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) will receive the funds to restore complete ecosystem functionality and permanently protect Atlantic salmon habitat on the PRHF property. This on-going conservation work will allow the endangered fish to return to their native spawning grounds in the headwater streams of the West and Middle Branches of the Pleasant River for the first time in nearly two centuries, a crucial step in the restoration of the forest ecosystems of Maine and the recovery effort for Atlantic salmon.

Authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act and funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, RLA grants provide funds to States and Territories for the acquisition of habitat for endangered and threatened species, such as Atlantic salmon.

“This is a huge win not only for AMC’s conservation work but also for the State of Maine, for climate resilience, and for the efforts of so many who have dedicated themselves to land protection,” said John Judge, Appalachian Mountain Club President and CEO. “We are so grateful to our partners at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and to The Conservation Fund, with whom we have worked over the past 3 years to acquire the PRHF.  This 27,000-acre acquisition ensures protection of nearly 90% of the watershed of the Middle Branch of the Pleasant River, a treasure-trove of habitat for native Eastern Brook Trout, endangered Atlantic salmon, and the many other plants and animals that depend on this forest ecosystem for survival. We are proud to be a leader in this critical conservation initiative.”

AMC’s acquisition of the Pleasant River Headwaters Forest is a high priority for the organization as part of its Maine Woods Initiative, which seeks to protect a corridor of more than a million acres in Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness from Monson to Baxter State Park. The addition of this property will significantly contribute to AMC’s goal of protecting the entire watershed of the West and Middle branches of the Pleasant River and will bring AMC’s total landholdings in Maine to more than 100,000 contiguous acres.

Securing permanent conservation of the PRHF is critical to the ecological integrity of the 100-Mile Wilderness landscape. Protecting the West and Middle branches of the Pleasant River will provide significant habitat benefits for wildlife—notably, Atlantic salmon. Conserving the Pleasant River Headwaters Forest will also provide public recreation opportunities, local economic growth through sustainable forestry operations, increased forest carbon sequestration capacity to help combat climate change, and prevent future development.

“Our environment is a big part of our identity as a people and as a state. As stewards of these cherished lands and waters, preserving and protecting them is one of our highest callings so that future generations may be able to enjoy them we to do today,” said Governor Janet Mills. “The headwaters forest of the Pleasant River is home to some of Maine’s most iconic species, including our famed brook trout and moose. With this grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife will restore the ecosystem for Atlantic salmon, a critical step in the revitalization of this endangered species. I applaud USFWS, AMC, and MDIFW for their collaborative work on this project and am grateful to Maine’s Congressional Delegation for their support of the funding that is making it possible.”

“Atlantic salmon are a critical part of our state’s marine ecosystem, but they are endangered and at risk of extinction. Restoring the Pleasant River Headwaters Forest’s ecosystem will not only help support and ensure the recovery of Maine’s Atlantic salmon population, but it will also boost numerous other species with which the salmon share habitats,” said Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden in a joint statement. “We all championed the bipartisan effort to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, which will now permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, making projects such as this one possible. We look forward to the work that Appalachian Mountain Club and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will do to protect and revitalize Maine’s ecosystems.”

“Moose and brook trout are emblematic of Maine’s unspoiled wilderness. This grant will protect habitat not only for moose and trout, but many other species for generations to come,” said Judy Camuso, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries. “Conserving this land is an important step in preserving Maine’s outdoor heritage, and providing recreational opportunities for Mainers and visitors alike.”

The Conservation Fund, a key project partner, acquired the parcel in February 2019 through its Working Forest Fund® program. This has provided time for AMC to raise the necessary funds to permanently conserve this critical piece of forestland.

Learn more about the Pleasant River Headwater Forest on AMC’s website.

Founded in 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the outdoors. AMC helps people of all ages and abilities to explore and develop a deep appreciation of the natural world. With chapters from Maine to Washington, D.C., guidebooks and maps, and unique lodges and huts, AMC helps people get outdoors on their own, with family and friends, and through activities close to home and beyond. AMC invites the public to support its conservation advocacy and research, youth programming, and care of 1,800 miles of trails.

THIS PROJECT WAS SUPPORTED by Endangered Species Grants administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program: Partnering to fund conservation and connect people with nature.

Nina Paus-Weiler
AMC Digital Media and Communications Manager
(617) 391-6588



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