Cooperatove Conservation Project

Appalachian Mountain Club Maine Woods Initiative

Conservation, recreation, and community economic development in the Maine Woods

Location: Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic Region: Maine

Project Summary: The AMC's Maine Woods Initiative is a strategy for land conservation that integrates habitat protection, recreation, education, and sustainable forestry in the 100-Mile Wilderness region of Maine.
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Rob Burbank
Resource Challenge
The initiative seeks to address the ecological and economic needs of the Maine Woods region by supporting local forest products jobs and traditional recreation, creating new multi-day backcountry experiences for visitors, and attracting new nature-based tourism to the region. The AMC is drawing on its long history in Maine and New Hampshire in developing new trails and a range of accommodations that are scaled appropriately for the natural resources of the area. In Devcember 2003, with assistrance from the The Trust for Public land, the AMC purchased the Katahdin IronWorks property from International Paper. The AMC’s investment will make paddling, hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing available to the public, while reducing overuse on portions of the Appalachian Trail. The effort represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect irreplaceable natural resources and help build strong local economies in this region of Maine. The project is funded by a mix of private and public dollars, including private donations, foundation grants, and state and federal program dollars.  New Markets Tax Credits financing also has been obtained. The property has been ranked by the Maine Bureau of Public Land as the Number 1 priority in the state for funding under the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Legacy program, and the project is ranked number 4 nationally in the President's FY06 Forest Legacy budget. The AMC continues to work closely with The Trust for Public land to craft a permanent easement to protect the natural, recreational, and economic resources on the property.


Examples of Key Partners

Appalachian Mountain Club; The Trust for Public Land; The State of Maine; U.S. Forest Service; Piscataquis County and the towns of Greenville and Brownville, Maine; Citizens Bank; Open Space Institute; Coastal Enterprises Inc.; Huber Resources Corp.; Piscataquis County Tourism Task Force; KI/Jo-Mary Multiple Use Forest; Piscataquis County Economic Development Council; Brownville Snowmobile Club; Northern Forest Alliance; Appalachian Trail Conservancy; Maine Appalachian Land Trust











Results and Accomplishments

The AMC recently completed an ecological assessment of the Katahdin IronWorks property, which provided information on ecologically significant areas on the property and will help guide future management. The property has a high level of biological diversity, with 30 distinct natural vegetation communities mapped during the survey ranging from lowland bogs, marshes and swamps to subalpine summits. Mature hardwood and softwood forests contain 300-year-old spruce, 400-year-old cedar, and sugar maple and yellow birch exceeding three feet in diameter.

The AMC has designated roughly 10,000 acres of the 37,000-acre KIW property as a non-motorized ecological reserve with a focus on habitat protection. This is as large as the biggest reserves currently designated on Maine state lands. The reserve will protect the headwaters of the West Branch of the Pleasant River, a Class A river, and abuts land already protected around Gulf Hagas, the Appalachian Trail and The Hermitage.

To date, AMC trail crews have created more than ten miles of new trails for hiking and cross-country skiing on the property. Additional trails are planned.

The AMC has been working with local snowmobile clubs to make sure snowmobile trails are well signed and to keep ski trails and snowmobile trails separate wherever possible.


The AMC hired Huber Resources Corporation as its forest management consultant, and Huber has completed a forest inventory and is developing a sustainable forest management plan that ensures natural forest composition and structure, maintains and enhances biological diversity, protects water quality, supports the integrity of reserve areas, and complements recreational uses of the property.


AMC completed an initial harvest of 5,300 cords of low-grade hardwood in 2004 that was sold to Maine mills. The AMC paid a Maine logging crew to conduct the harvest, under the supervision of Huber Resources. Another harvest is under way this summer. We intend to use our forestry operation as an educational tool to broaden awareness of sustainable harvesting techniques, and how they can co-exist with other land management goals, such as recreation.


The AMC continues to engage local communities and user groups near the Maine Woods Initiative project area. AMC officials have presented details of the project to the Selectmen of Greenville, Brownville and Milo, the County Commissioners of Piscataquis County, and the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council. In 2004, 18 county officials, educators, and businesspeople visited AMC operations in northern New Hampshire to learn about AMC’s programs and experience in working with local communities. More than sixty community leaders from across Piscataquis County heard about progress on the Maine Woods Initiative during a fall 2004 reception in Greenville.

The AMC worked in cooperation with the towns of Greenville and Brownville and local snowmobile clubs on planning the first-ever 100-Mile Wilderness Dog Sled Race, which traversed AMC’s Katahdin Iron Works property. Plans are under way for a second race this coming winter.

Members of the press attended a June 2005 tour of the AMC’s Katahdin Iron Works property and a reception with town and county officials at the AMC’s Little Lyford Pond Camps. The event generated press coverage in Bangor-, Portland-, and Boston-based media.











Combining sustainable forestry, community economic development, recreation, and ecological protection.

Project Contact
Walter Graff
Deputy Director
Appalachian Mountain Club
P.O. Box 298
Gorham, NH 03581
(603) 466-2721, ext. 194


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