FRANKLIN COUNTY – Two key properties totaling 13,640-acres in the Western Maine Mountains – Quill Hill and Perham Stream – have been permanently protected. All of the acreage will be open for public use, and a majority will continue to be managed with timber harvests. This conservation project was led by Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy in Maine, and The State of Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands with lead public funding from the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Navy.
These lands are part of the traditional territory and of ongoing cultural significance to the Wabanaki People. They are also key parts of a priority landscape for enhancing carbon storage and ensuring species can adapt to a changing climate. Quill Hill and Perham Stream are vitally important to the region’s economy, outdoor recreation, forest products industry, climate resilience, wildlife habitat, healthy watersheds, and quality of life. They are prominent in the landscapes visible from the Appalachian Trail, Mt. Abraham (often referred to locally as Mt. Abram) and the Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway, and adjacent to the wilderness training facility operated by the U.S. Navy in Redington Township.
The 7,062-acre Quill Hill property — just 10 minutes from Rangeley — is a well-known destination that welcomes 30,000 visitors a year, drawn to its 360-degree view of the Western Maine Mountains that is easily accessible to all. The property also features a universally accessible trail system and other recreational trails and complements nearby outdoor recreational resources, including the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and Saddleback Ski Area; Quill Hill is a prominent feature of the view from Saddleback, and vice versa. The Quill Hill property will continue to be owned by the Brochu family with the property available for continued timber harvest and is now permanently protected via a conservation easement held by the State of Maine and the U.S. Navy.
The 6,578-acre Perham Stream property was purchased from Bayroot, LLC by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, and there is now a conservation easement on the property held by the U.S. Navy. On the slopes of the 4,802-foot Mt. Abraham, the property features a mountainous bowl around Farmer Mountain and two headwater streams in the Kennebec River watershed that provide important cold-water habitat – Perham Stream in the Sandy River watershed and Quick Stream in the Carrabassett River watershed. Entirely open to public recreation as part of Maine’s Public Reserve Lands system, almost 5,000 acres is designated as an addition to the ecological reserve on Mt. Abraham, while the remaining nearly 1,600 acres will be available for timber harvest by the Bureau.
Lead funding for the Quill Hill to Perham Stream effort came from the United States Forest Service Forest Legacy Program, with additional support from the U.S. Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program, and the generous support of private individuals and foundations including RA Capital, the EJK Foundation, The Betterment Fund, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Wild East Fund, and the Maine Mountain Collaborative Transaction Fund.
“I’m thrilled that future generations will be able to experience the unmatched beauty of the Western Maine mountains from Quill Hill to Perham Stream,” said Governor Janet Mills. “This extraordinary, collaborative conservation project will preserve access to some of the most breathtaking vistas in the state and set aside thousands of acres of land for recreation and wildlife habitat that will benefit generations to come. I thank the Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy for partnering with the Bureau of Parks and Land to make this extraordinary achievement possible.”
“By opening access to the Quill Hill and Perham Stream properties, we’re helping to link more than 100,000 acres of public lands along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail to mitigate climate impacts and ensure access to the outdoors for all,” said Betsy Cook, Maine State Program Director for Trust for Public Land. “This space will be truly open to all, with ADA accessible viewing areas and hiking and outdoor recreational opportunities for every ability level and TPL is proud to work with project partners to protect this incredible landscape.”
“Conserving Quill Hill to Perham Stream is a critical step forward for Maine’s climate resilience, and a case study in collaborative conservation,” said Kate Dempsey, State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “Over the past four years, the support and commitment of the private landowners, public agencies, local businesses, over two dozen conservation and economic development organizations, and Maine’s congressional delegation has been vital to the success of this project.”
“This collaborative project contains all the key elements that reflect Maine’s vision for conservation: a privately owned working forest that supports Maine’s timber economy, ecological reserves that sustain biodiversity, and multiple-use public land that will benefit people and wildlife for generations to come,” said Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands Director Andy Cutko.
“To say that my late husband, Adrian, loved Quill Hill is an understatement,” said Celine Brochu. “He thought about Quill all the time. In the winter, he would read every single comment left in the guest books, making his own notes in the margins. He spent long summer days at Quill – smoothing rough spots on the road, moving countless rocks, taking breaks to chat with visitors. Quill Hill always held a very special place in his heart. And mine. He often talked about how he wanted Quill Hill to be open and accessible to everyone forever. I am incredibly proud of all he accomplished and so grateful that our family and all the project partners including TPL, TNC, the State of Maine, the U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Navy, have realized his vision and permanently protected Quill Hill.”
“The permanent conservation of these lands protects the wilderness environment the Navy relies on for realistic training, preserving wildlife habitat and preventing incompatible development near the base” said Capt. Michael Oberdorf, shipyard and installation commander at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. “We are proud to be part of such a successful effort that supports mission readiness while increasing access to outdoor recreation and advancing the region and Maine’s climate resiliency and conservation goals.”
“The state of Maine is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, which offer both its residents and visitors the opportunity to experience and appreciate the pristine environment that surrounds them,” said Senators Collins and King and Representative Golden. “It is imperative that we protect these resources, like Quill Hill and Perham Stream, from development and ensure future generations can continue to enjoy and connect with nature across our state.”
“Our nation’s forests provide immeasurable social, economic, and environmental benefits that are lost when forestland is converted to non-forest uses,” said Gina Owens, Regional Forester for the USDA Forest Service’s Eastern Region. “The Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program directly supports our partners in pursuing mutual forest conservation objectives for the benefit of future generations.”
“Over the last two years, the High Peaks Alliance worked with the State and nonprofit partners to make sure that the local voice was heard,” High Peaks Alliance Executive Director Brent West wrote. “Conservation is nuanced, the Trust for Public Land, Nature Conservancy and funders sometimes all want different things. We all agreed that conservation was imperative. I wanted to thank these organizations for hearing our input. Through collaboration we negotiated four miles of additional road access that was going to be sunsetted because of the new ecological reserve designation. We also were able to supply the most up to date motorized trail data so that snowmobile and ATV trails were part of the planning process. We hosted a few walks with partners to highlight potential trail projects which we are currently planning. The Quill Hill easement also protects public access to the view, ATV, snowmobile trails and for traditional uses! In the coming month, we also hope to work with these same partners to start removing posted signs from over 1,000 acres on another project. Collaboration works well with the leadership of the large conservation partners and the local voice to make sure access issues are part of the plan from the beginning. This project is an example of why you support the High Peaks Alliance. We are working to make sure each conservation project has local and recreational input because access is the building block of a society that cares about the landscape.”
About Trust for Public Land: Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit www.tpl.org.
About The Nature Conservancy in Maine: The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, TNC works in 76 countries and territories and uses a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, tribes, the private sector, and other partners. Co-founded in 1956 by Rachel Carson, TNC Maine has helped protect almost 2.5 million acres and currently owns and manages more than 300,000 acres in the state. To learn more, visit www.nature.org/maine or follow @TNCMaine on social media.
About High Peaks Alliance: The High Peaks Alliance is a volunteer, non-profit organization made up of local hunters, hikers, birders, loggers, fishermen, snowmobile and ATV riders, Maine Guides, x-country skiers, mountain bikers, and others working together since 2007 to ensure continuing public access to Maine’s High Peaks Region for residents as well as visitors. For more information, visit www.highpeaksalliance.org