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Environment and Outdoors
The Rural Maine Reporting Project is made possible through the generous support of the Betterment Fund.

Trust Establishes 3,400-Acre Wilderness Sanctuary In Western Maine

Harry White
For Northeast Wilderness Trust
Forest on the western slopes of Mt. Redington, near Rangeley, designated as a wilderness sanctuary.

The Northeast Wilderness Trust has purchased more than 3,400 acres on the western slopes of Mt. Redington near Rangeley for designation as a wilderness sanctuary.

As permanent wilderness, the sanctuary will never be logged and will eventually become old-growth forest. Executive Director Jon Leibowitz says the parcel has an exceptionally rich and diverse habitat that will be allowed to flourish naturally.

"It's a great habitat for moose. It's a mapped habitat for Canada lynx, just a really remote and large landscape-scale opportunity, and it offers wonderful benefits to wildlife and to people alike," he says.

Leibowitz says letting nature take its course is part of the Trust's philosophy and why logging won't be allowed.

Harry White
Forest on the western slopes of Mt. Redington, near Rangeley, designated as a wilderness sanctuary.

"We're not going to harvest trees, we're not going to manage for invasive species in an active way. We really just allow nature to direct the ebb and flow of life. And over time, what that means is that the entire parcel — all 3,400 acres — is a potential old-growth forest of tomorrow," he says.

It's believed that less than 1% of Maine's North Woods are old growth, which is considered more beneficial for biodiversity. Leibowitz says "rewilding" places like Redington is one of the best natural climate solutions. The Trust is planning to enroll the site in the voluntary carbon offset market.

Because the land borders the Appalachian Trail, the Trust will donate a forever-wild easement to the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust to further protect the trail's viewshed and the land's wild state.

Leibowitz says only about 3% of New England is conserved as wilderness.