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Magic City
Morning Star

West Branch Project Gets $1 Million, 282,000 Acres

The West Branch Project has secured another $1 million in state funds.

After 3 years of discussion, the Land for Maine’s Future board approved a controversial request to place 282,000 acres of privately held forest west of Baxter State Park under a working forest conservatione easement, to be held by the Forest Society of Maine, a non-profit organization created to hold easements purchased from logging companies.

The project also includes the purchase of approximately 47,000 acres by the Maine Department of Conservation.

The $1 million in LMF funds will be used for the purchase by the state of property which includes 810 acres around the shore of Canada Falls Lake and the South Branch of the Penobscot River, 3,895 acres around the St. John ponds, 40,502 acres around Seboomook Lake, 1,625 acres around Baker Lake, and 29 acres including the historic Pittston Farm, near the junction of the East and West branches of the Penobscot, according to LMF staff member, Tim Glidden.

The properties are valued at $20 million, the rest of the money to come from federal funds.

The project has been opposed by RESTORE: The North Woods, an environmental group devoted to establishing a national park in northern Maine.

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The lone dissenting vote came from Marcia McKeague of Medway, who voted against the project because she fears taking timberland out of production violates LMF’s mission. She argued that if too much LMF money is used buying up forestland and taking it out of production, it will will hurt the state’s economy.

-- Ken Anderson 06/19/03

Editor’s Note: Using tax funds to purchase land for the purpose of taking it out of production and off of the tax rolls can only lead to higher taxes for those of who are still able to find work in this state.