A land trust based on the Blue Hill peninsula has reached a deal to buy a local mountain with views of upper Penobscot Bay and the tidal Bagaduce River.
The Conservation Fund, a national not-for-profit group that assists local organizations with conservation and economic development projects, has acquired Wallamatogus Mountain with the intention of selling it to Blue Hill Heritage Trust after the trust raises funds to complete the purchase.
Wallamatogus Mountain is a 336-acre property with an elevation of approximately 500 feet above sea level. Originally listed for $950,000, the heritage trust will pay the Conservation Fund $800,000 within three years for the acquisition, according to Hans Carlson, Blue Hill Heritage Trust’s executive director.
Carlson said the trust is looking to raise a total of $1.2 million for the project, which will cover the purchase price and additional anticipated costs such as surveying the property, paying annual property taxes and making some access improvements.
“This is the single biggest project we’ve ever raised money for,” Carlson said Tuesday.
Carlson said when the property went on the market earlier this year, he got between 75 and 80 emails, phone calls and other messages from area residents urging the trust to acquire it.
“It’s a daunting task but we were inspired and encouraged by the groundswell of public sentiment,” Carlson said.
The Maine Coast Heritage Trust will assist in raising the money needed for the project, though it will ultimately be owned by the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Carlson said.
The property is north of Route 175 in Penobscot and has south-facing wild blueberry fields near the summit that offer views of Northern Bay in the Bagaduce River to the south and toward upper Penobscot Bay to the west. There are existing trails on the property, which provides habitat for two bird species with declining populations in Maine — upland sandpipers and vesper sparrows — and which has large areas of forest and wetlands around the field.
“This property has long been a priority to keep undeveloped and available for people to visit,” said Ciona Ulbrich, senior project manager at Maine Coast Heritage Trust. “By taking this key step, The Conservation Fund is giving our organizations the long-awaited opportunity to try to raise the funds to make that possible.”
A real estate listing for the property says it includes more than 150 acres each of wild blueberry fields and of productive timberland with deciduous and conifer trees. A cellphone service provider has a long-term lease on a small part of the property where a cell tower is located, and that lease will continue after the trust acquires the mountain, Carlson said.