BANGOR, Maine — First Wind and the Forest Society of Maine announced Thursday the establishment of the Stetson Mountain Fund.
First Wind, which owns and operates Stetson Wind in Washington County, the largest operational utility-scale wind farm in New England, is donating $100,000 to the forest society to establish the fund.
The fund will provide grants to local groups and communities seeking to maintain and enhance access to recreational opportunities in the Baskahegan Stream watershed, which arises from the slopes of Stetson Mountain in Washington County.
“Residents and visitors to the region enjoy these waters, and access for water-related recreational activities helps sustain the traditions and values of the nearby communities,” said Alan Hutchinson, the forest society’s executive director. “We are excited about this opportunity to help local organizations and municipalities provide facilities and programs that will allow people to stay connected to these woods and waters.”
Grants, expected to be in the $1,000 to $3,000 range, will be issued by the forest society based on the recommendation of a fund advisory committee consisting of representatives from area guiding and recreation interests, forestland owners and civic leaders. The first grants are slated to be awarded next spring.
“I am pleased by the opportunities offered by this fund,” said Elbridge Cleaves, an area resident and business owner.
“The people of Washington County and in particular those who live within the confines of the Baskahegan River Watershed value the outdoors as an essential part of their daily lives,” he said.
“First Wind believes that our projects and the beautiful natural resources of Maine can co-exist in harmony. For years, people in Maine have enjoyed access to these surroundings, and we hope that this fund will make them accessible for even more people. We are very happy to show our support for the economy and culture of Washington County,” said Matt Kearns, First Wind’s New England vice president for development.
“We find it very important to foster the continued preservation of the surrounding areas and maintain recreational access for Maine,” he added. “We are excited at the prospect of seeing the fruits of the projects that emerge out of the fund in the years to come.”
The fund will support projects within the 250-square-mile Baskahegan Stream watershed, which flows into the Mattawamkeag River and is part of the larger Penobscot River watershed.