Another big land conservation deal in the Mahoosucs

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Sep 3, 2003
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Gorham NH
This land was formerly all Brown Company land including the AT. When James RIver bought Brown Company, they sold all the Brown Company land in Maine to the mill in Rumford and importantly all the land south of the ridge line in Shelburne while James River kept everything to the north. Mead Paper the Rumford Mill owners at the time sold all their land to Bayroot (owned by the Yale endowment). The majority of the lands had no conservaton or development easements on them as that concept really was not used in the area. Papermll land by traditional was never sold and never developed but once that paradigm shifted as the industry collapsed, protecting the highlands from development became a priority. AMC was working with town officials in Shelburne decades ago to protect these lands via zoning. Rumford still has a long term wood supply contract with Bayroot and Bayroot had a contractor build a large chipping plant in Shelburne to send chips to Rumford. Therefore Bayroot had been cutting the timber very hard in the Shelburne area for 30 plus years. There was and still is quite a demand for conservation protection in the Mahoosucs and the Androscoggin River corridor as the decades of pollution by the mills up stream kept the Androscoggin River frontage relatively undeveloped. What Bayroot is doing is selling a combination of development easements and outright sales of land along the south side of the Mahoosuc ridge while they have been active buyers of land along the Success Pond road on the north side of the ridge with the AT protected in between. When all the land easements are added up they protect quite a bit of land in Shelburne for development. SPNHF typically is far less agressive with timber management but they will still cut trees ont he easement lands. Unlike the Randolph and Gorham approach that protects lands via town forests controlled by a local management organization, the Shelburne approach is somewaht more patchwork but sill accomplished the goal.

I have also heard that the town of Gorham is actively negotiating for a parcel that contains the privately owned section of the Carter Moriah trail and looking at relocating the trailhead away from the end of the street. Bayroot recently did a major cut up on that lot. Its outside the declaration boundary of the WMNF so it would be difficult for the NF to buy it.
SPNHF acquired the two lots surrounding the AT (Shelburne Valley Forest) with multiple grant funding sources. One of those grants was from a federal Community Forest program and as a result, an advisory group of Shelburne citizens will have input on management of that forest land. After Bayroot harvesting, it is unlikely that SPNHF will conduct timber harvests for at least 30-40 years. The Conservation Fund acquired the 1,100-acre Bald Cap Peak parcel during the period of the Mahoosuc Initiative and later acquired the 166-acre Middle Mountain parcel and merged those two lots after also transferring the upper portion of the Bald Cap Peak parcel to the U.S. as additional AT corridor land managed for NPS by the USFS. The remaining 1,000+ acre Bald Cap Peak Forest was acquired by SPNHF at the same time as the Shelburne Valley Forest and will be managed as a single forest. Mahoosuc Land Trust also holds a conservation easement on the Shelburne Valley Forest surrounding the AT and will monitor forestry activities there. All in all, over 3,700 acres of forest land are now protected through this effort. Mahoosuc Land Trust now also owns 880-acres of forest along the Androscoggin River shoreline acquired from Bayroot that includes more than 30 islands in its Shelburne Riverlands parcels.
One of the sources of funding was wetland mitigation program run by the state. RT 16 north of Dummer is going to be moved away from the river and straightened out (an ongoing effort) they will inevitably be impacting wetlands so they can pay into a fund to protects other conservation lands to offset the wetlands impact.

SPNHF tended to ignore the north country until Northern Pass. They are making a big effort now to show presence in the area now that they are building a north country office at the Rocks Estate in Bethlehem. With Bayroot buying to the north and various land conservations to the south the woods will effectively revert to how Brown Company managed the land prior to the James River purchase except this time its "forever"

I have not heard anything lately on the much smaller land protection in Gorham along the Carter Moriah trail and the proposed expansion of the parking area on the river at the trestle.