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A new land purchase will protect nearly 29,000 acres in Maine's 100-Mile Wilderness

A map of the AMC Maine Woods Initiative Barnard Forest area.
A map of the AMC Maine Woods Initiative Barnard Forest area.

After a new land purchase, the Appalachian Mountain Club is permanently protecting nearly 130,000 contiguous acres of forestland in Maine's 100-Mile Wilderness.

On Thursday, the group announced the purchase -- with the Conservation Fund -- of the nearly 29,000-acre Barnard Forest, which is adjacent to more than 100,000 acres it already holds.

The AMC's President and CEO, Nicole Zussman, said the $15.2 million purchase of the property will create nearly 130,000 contiguous acres of protected land — more than twice the size of Acadia National Park — and will allow for continued responsible forestry, carbon sequestration, and other uses.

Zussman said the group plans to open up the area to hiking, snowmobiling and fishing for the first time in two decades.

"So it's really an opportunity for the local community, as well as tourism, to come and visit and have access to this just absolutely breathtaking piece of property," she said.

Zussman said the AMC has already restored more than 100 miles of stream habitat in the region before the purchase, opening up waterways for species such as brook trout and Atlantic salmon.

"And then this piece of property will allow us to keep going further south within the West Branch of the Pleasant River," Zussman said. "So it just extends it. Because the West Branch goes into this area, into the greater Penobscot River drainage."

The AMC purchased the northern half of the Barnard Forest outright. The Conservation Fund purchased the southern half with the Malone Family Land Preservation Foundation, and the two groups plan to raise funds to eventually grant the AMC full ownership.