June 22, 2018
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Quimby buys historic Lunksoos Camps on Penobscot

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

TOWNSHIP 3, RANGE 7, Maine — Writer Henry David Thoreau once canoed the East Branch of the Penobscot River and might have stood on the land that conservationist Roxanne Quimby will turn into an artistic and scientific center, she announced Tuesday.

Quimby’s purchase of the 13.8-acre Lunksoos Camps on Friday likely will have no immediate impact on almost all of the recreational access sportsmen previously enjoyed, said Mark Leathers, a forestry consultant Quimby employs. That includes the Interconnected Trail System snowmobile trail that runs through the property and the land’s boating access to the river.

However, hunting might no longer be allowed on the property, Leathers said. He declined to say how much Quimby paid for the land. Originally built in 1881, the camps consist of a lodge and four cabins situated on the east side of the river, 10 miles west of Sherman Mills, and is accessible by road from Stacyville.

“It complements the rest of her holdings because it provides a starting point on the east side of the river to the west side of the river and because it is a commercial property adjacent to her large land holdings,” Leathers said Tuesday. “Now we don’t have to worry about an incompatible user” buying the camps.

Leathers called the camp a future retreat for writers and artists but a statement released by Quimby’s group, Elliotsville Plantation Inc., said the camps also will serve recreational, artistic and scientific pursuits, including hiking, canoeing, skiing, bird watching, and research.

Besides Thoreau, who explored Lunksoos on his canoe trip — his third visit to the Katahdin Region — Maine Gov. Percival P. Baxter in 1920 camped at Lunksoos the night before his first ascent of Katahdin. In 1939, Lunksoos was the site of 12-year-old Donn Fendler’s rescue after nine days of wandering lost on Katahdin, the statement said. Fendler’s experience led to the book, “Lost on a Mountain in Maine.”

Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue, a frequent critic of Quimby’s, said he had just heard of the purchase and had no immediate comment about it.

Elliotsville Plantation Inc. was established by Roxanne Quimby in 2002 as a private operating foundation for the acquisition and conservation of land and the preservation of open space for the benefit of the public and the conduct of educational and stewardship programs. The foundation now owns and manages more than 100,000 acres in northern, north central and Down East Maine.

Quimby’s critics decry her land purchases as detrimental to sportsmen’s access to the northern Maine woods and to the economy of northern Maine. Many people also object to her plan to create a national park adjacent to Baxter State Park. That notion had created bad blood between Quimby and recreation enthusiasts who regard Quimby as an environmental preservationist with little feeling for the people of the area.

Yet those same critics have applauded Quimby for cooperative efforts that attempt to balance snowmobiling and recreational access with her desire to preserve unfettered nature, particularly in the Brownville area.

Lunksoos is hardly Quimby’s largest land purchase, but it is also not her smallest, Leathers said. Quimby has bought many smaller plots of land in central and southern Maine, he said.

Quimby workers will visit Lunksoos within the next several weeks to review the site in detail, though they believe “it’s in pretty good shape,” Leathers said.

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