SURRY, Maine — Blue Hill Heritage Trust has acquired 2,114 acres of forested land that it plans to conserve while maintaining it for traditional use, trust officials said Monday.
The property, which is accessed via Chestnut Lane on Route 176, known locally as Toddy Pond Road, was acquired for $650,000, according to Hans Carlson, the trust’s executive director.
The trust has been in the process of lining up the money to buy the property for the past couple of years, Carlson said Monday. The trust acquired the land in late March from The Conservation Fund, which had acquired the property from the real estate management firm Lakeville Shores. The Conservation Fund bought the property in order to reserve the land for eventual acquisition by Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Carlson said.
Prior to the acquisition of the property by Lakeville Shores, it had been owned by the Modena family of Italy, according to Carlson.
The parcel has been forested for a long time, Carlson said, and has been frequented for many years by locals familiar with it. Hunting has been allowed and will continue to be allowed on the land, along with other non-motorized uses such as hiking, biking or cross-country skiing, he said.
The parcel includes headwater wetlands that drain into Flood Stream, which feeds into Patten Bay and provides habitat critical to coastal birds and water quality.
The forest will be dedicated to the memory of Pamela Johnson, a long-standing member of the trust’s board of directors who passed away in December, Carlson said. She willed all her possessions to the trust, which will dedicate proceeds from the gift to the ongoing stewardship of this property.
“This is a tremendously exciting development for Blue Hill Heritage Trust,” Carlson said in a prepared statement released Monday morning. “A property this size will offer educational, research and demonstration possibilities, which I hope will make it an important resource for Surry and the wider region. Our first job is to find out what is out there on the land, but that is just the start of a long-term project for our organization.”
According to Carlson, a significant portion of the purchase funds came from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program, a program dedicated to protecting wetlands in Maine and which is administered by The Nature Conservancy on behalf of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Carlson said $400,000 in public funding was used to purchase the property, with additional funds for both the purchase and stewardship of the property coming from private donations.
With the addition of the Surry Forest, the Trust now owns 5,427 acres of land on the Blue Hill Peninsula and holds conservation easements on another 3,633 acres.
“This is by far our biggest piece,” Carlson said of the forest, adding that the trust pays property taxes on all the parcels it owns. “It is one of the biggest contiguous pieces of forested land on the [Blue Hill] peninsula.”
Carlson said the trust plans to hold a public meeting on the acquisition and management of the property at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 10, at Surry Elementary School on North Bend Road.