KINGFIELD – High Peaks Alliance, The Trust for Public Land, and Town of Kingfield recently announced the creation of the Kingfield Community Forest. This new 215-acre forest, now owned by the Town of Kingfield, will protect Shiloh Pond, a popular fly-fishing gem in Western Maine and will protect a wilderness experience just two miles from the center of Kingfield.
“The creation of the Kingfield Community Forest not only provides exceptional recreational and ecological value, it will also create a space for the community to come together and have a say over their local forestland.” said Betsy Cook, Maine Program Director for The Trust for Public Land. “Permanently protecting public access to this property is a huge victory for this community and all future residents who will have the opportunity to enjoy its many benefits.”
After the property was listed for sale in 2018, residents of the Town of Kingfield rallied to take action to protect the land. The Town worked in partnership with The Trust for Public Land and High Peaks Alliance to acquire the property in order to permanently protect Shiloh Pond and surrounding wetlands, streams and woods, while creating an outdoor gathering space for the entire community.
“The conservation of Shiloh pond and creation of the Kingfield community forest is a reminder of the strength of our community,” said Brent West, Executive Director of the High Peaks Alliance. “Across Northern Maine our communities have been tied closely to our natural resources through forestry and recreation. When I grew up here we witnessed the sale of the majority of these forest lands to out of state investors and with these sales we lost our local connection to the lands. Now there are some of us saying there are places that must be saved for us and our children. Shiloh Pond is one of these places and we did it together, as a community.”
The Kingfield Community Forest will preserve the pristine 19-acre Shiloh Pond, nearly 30 acres of wetlands, high value Inland wading bird and waterfowl habitat, and old-growth type forest which is increasingly rare in the State of Maine. The pond and surrounding woods will offer numerous ways for neighbors and visitors to enjoy the outdoors including fly-fishing and paddling, while allowing for additional hiking, biking and skiing trails to be constructed.
“In a time when we consider town benefits to mean the installation of fancy street lights and sidewalks to nowhere, it’s refreshing to know that there are still some who realize the importance of a community forest – especially the woods and waters in the Shiloh Pond area,” said Walt Kilbreth, Kingfield Selectman. “It is our responsibility to understand and maintain our boundless relationships with woods, water, fauna and wildlife and also to ensure they are passed forward through generations to come and this property is the first step in carrying out that responsibility.”
As a community forest, the land will be collectively owned and managed by the Kingfield community. Residents will have direct input into the management of the land and implementation of trails and activities. The implementation of the community’s vision for the land will be supported by the High Peaks Alliance. The Kingfield Community Forest builds on a 20-year effort where The Trust for Public Land has led the creation of over 30 community forests across New England.
This newly created community forest was funded by the Maine Natural Resources Conservation Program and many generous foundations and individuals including the Buck Family, Mr. Will Rowe, and James and Ann Hancock.