Featured News | Maine

Maine’s North Woods just got a little wilder

New Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve safeguards habitat for rare wildlife

Northeast Wilderness Trust is excited to announce a “forever-wild” gift in Maine’s High Peaks region.

The 1,155-acre Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve was gifted to Northeast Wilderness Trust (NWT) by longtime Phillips, Maine resident and lifelong wilderness advocate, George N. Appell, in honor of his late wife Laura W. R. Appell (née Reynolds).  “Laura loved the wilderness, the rural areas and the forest of Maine’s North Woods,” recalls George. “Lone Mountain is a keystone for the region. We wanted to turn it into refugia for biodiversity.”

Early summer in the Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve.

The Preserve’s namesake summit, 3,280’ Lone Mountain, falls just to the south of the newly-protected property, which buffers nearly two miles of the Appalachian Trail corridor, managed by the National Park Service. The Preserve is also protected by a conservation easement held by the US Navy, the result of an earlier transaction involving the Trust for Public Land and the Maine Mountain Collaborative.

“Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve is part of a 70,000-acre forest block that contains numerous completed and ongoing conservation projects by organizations that partner with Northeast Wilderness Trust,” says Shelby Perry, Stewardship Director at NWT. “However, a majority of those lands are managed primarily for timber production and recreational uses. The Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve complements this impressive patchwork of conserved lands and adds another much-needed wilderness core area – safeguarding habitat for sensitive species and views from the Appalachian Trail.”

Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve and the Mountains of the Dawn Ecoregion.

The Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve lies at the heart of the largest undeveloped ecosystem in the east, known as the Mountains of the Dawn. Spanning more than 5 million acres from the Maine-New Hampshire border to Mt. Katahdin – an area larger than the state of Connecticut – Mountains of the Dawn encompasses an incredible diversity of lowland and upland habitats, from the rocky summits and high elevation bogs of the loftiest peaks in Maine, to floodplain forests nestled in deep river valleys. The Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve protects habitat for moose, black bear, Canada lynx, and Bicknell’s thrush, among other species, and protects important headwaters for Atlantic Salmon.

Large, diverse, and connected landscapes like Mountains of the Dawn are essential to the survival of numerous species in the face of climate change. Peter McKinley, Maine based staff scientist with The Wilderness Society and longtime collaborator in the region, says, “The conservation, wildlife, and forest management science are clear: under a rapidly changing climate, current and future biodiversity requires blocks of mature, late successional forest on the landscape.”

“We hope that this will serve as an area where animals and plants can move north and upslope as the climate changes,” adds George Appell.

Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve is open to quiet, muscle-powered exploration and is best approached via the Appalachian Trail. Of the Trail’s 2,190 miles along the eastern spine of North America, the route through Maine’s High Peaks region – including the Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve – is known as one of the toughest sections of all.

Headwaters stream in the Lone Mountain Wilderness Preserve

The donation comes just in time for the 50th birthday of the National Trails System Act on October 2nd, which immediately enshrined the Appalachian Trail as one of the nation’s first National Scenic Trails. The Act ensures “the conservation and enjoyment of the nationally significant scenic, historic, natural, or cultural qualities of the areas through which” the trails pass. But beyond the narrow trail corridor, logging, energy development, and home-building threaten the wilderness character of the Appalachian Trail. Northeast Wilderness Trust is working alongside partners to protect the Appalachian Trail throughout New England, including an active project in central Vermont called the Bridgewater Hollow Bramhall Preserve.

The Wilderness Trust’s acquisition of Lone Mountain, much of which has been logged in the past, marks the start of rewilding for this special place, says Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director of Northeast Wilderness Trust. “You are looking at future old growth.  It’s an exciting idea to think about.  Our style of conservation means this property will be allowed to grow old and resilient.  Roads will fade, the forest will form complex communities, and both wildlife and people will find quiet refuge for generations to come.”

We can’t protect the Northeast’s wildest places without your help! Please donate today to support our work across the region. Your monthly contribution ensures that Northeast Wilderness Trust will be ready to safeguard the next “Lone Mountain.” To learn about legal tools to protect your land, call Northeast Wilderness Trust at 802.224.1000 or email

 

Comments

  1. Marisa Riggi says:

    Amazing addition, keep up the great work NWT team!!!

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