News Release

USDA Forest Legacy Program Protects 329,000 Acres of Maine Working Forest

January 6, 2004 -

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced the largest contiguous tract of forestland ever to be conserved in Maine as part of the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Legacy program. The project ensures the conservation of 329,000 acres of working forestland. 

“The Forest Legacy program is a model for conservation of our private forest land base,” said Veneman. “The Forest Legacy program has conserved over 935,000 acres over 26 states. The state, non-profit and community partners played a key role in this significant accomplishment for the program, the state of Maine and for the nation.” 

The project involves a five-year partnership between the Forest Society of Maine and the state of Maine, with the financial and technical assistance from USDA Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program. This effort included the acquisition of 47,000 acres of ecologically and recreationally significant lands surrounding a series of lakes and the St. Johns River headwaters and a 282,000-acre conservation easement of forestland surrounding the West Branch and Penobscot Rivers. 

The acquisition of this land and conservation easement, completed at a cost of $31.8 million, ensures that a huge expanse of Maine’s northern forest will never be developed, will always be harvested in an environmentally sustainable manner and will continue to be accessible to the public for traditional recreational uses such as hunting and fishing, hiking, camping, snowmobiling, canoeing and kayaking. 

“The Forest Legacy program has been a model program in terms of convening partnerships to accomplish forest conservation goals. It is an incentive-based and strictly voluntary program that conserves working forests and the opportunities that they provide to communities and environmental benefits to all Americans,” said Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth.