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

The Appalachian Mountain Club purchases 27,000 acres of forestland in the 100-Mile Wilderness

Dan Rinard
Appalachian Mountain Club
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The Appalachian Mountain Club has purchased 27,000 acres of forestland in the 100-Mile Wilderness Area in Piscataquis County. The Pleasant Rivers Headwaters Forest, pictured above, is one of the last remaining unprotected forest blocks in the region, is prime habitat for native brook trout and endangered Atlantic salmon.

The Appalachian Mountain Club has purchased 27,000 acres of forestland in the 100-Mile Wilderness Area in Piscataquis County. AMC's interim CEO, Susan Arnold, says the Pleasant Rivers Headwaters Forest, one of the last remaining unprotected forest blocks in the region, is prime habitat for native brook trout and endangered Atlantic salmon. Arnold says the group plans to continue responsible forestry operations there and to guarantee public access. All of the land will remain on local tax rolls.

"So we're very excited about all of the elements coming together here on this property that will really enhance our ability to continue to do the sustainable forestry, sequester carbon, restore fish habitat, protect biodiversity and otherwise continue to provide open lands for recreation for the public," she says.

The Pleasant River Headwaters Forest has been a priority for the AMC because it is adjacent to 75,000 acres the group already owns and because it's in the center of the 100-Mile Wilderness, stretching along the Appalachian Trail between Monson and Baxter State Park. Tom Duffus of The Conservation Fund says the parcel was a large puzzle piece left out of AMC's Maine Woods Initiative to permanently protect land in the area.

Several years ago, the property came up for sale and Duffus says it was seriously threatened with being converted from a working forest that provides wildlife habitat, recreation and economic benefits.

At the request of the AMC, The Conservation Fund stepped in and purchased the parcel in 2019 through its Working Forest Fund, which uses bridge capital to protect large, ecologically and economically important forestland from subdivision and fragmentation. Duffus says the arrangement gave the AMC time to raise the $25 million needed to purchase the property outright and to permanently protect it.

With the addition of the Pleasant River Headwaters Forest to its holdings, AMC now owns more than 100,000 acres in Maine, a process that began nearly 20 years ago as a way to create eco-tourism, enhance economic activity and to "show that conservation is good for people and good for the planet," Arnold says.