AUGUSTA, Maine — Central Maine Power announced Monday that it has donated a large parcel of land to the Stanton Bird Club, the Lewiston group that oversees Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary.
The donation consists of 241 acres around Mud Pond in Monmouth, according to a CMP news release. The land is next to the Woodbury Pond Sanctuary, which the Stanton Bird Club runs in addition to the Thorncrag park in Lewiston.
The donation is part of an attempt to “minimize the impact on the environment” of the $1.4 billion Maine Power Reliability Program transmission line upgrade, CMP spokesperson Gail Rice said. The power company will donate a dozen other parcels of land for similar purposes as part of the project. “This donation is many times the area of the land being disturbed,” Rice said.
The deal involved more than two years of negotiations and was completed in the fall of 2010, Bruce Damon, chairman of the Stanton Bird Club’s Maine Power Reliability Program committee, said in a phone interview Monday. A 14-acre section of the Woodbury Pond Sanctuary was affected by the construction of a new transmission corridor, which already has been cut, he said.
The donation presented the bird club with something of a compromise, Damon said, since visitors to the sanctuary will have to walk directly underneath the new power lines if they enter from the park’s main entrance.
The deal, which doubled the sanctuary’s acreage, is “worthwhile, because it’s a wonderful piece of ground,” Damon said. As part of the donation, the club will inherit 7,407 feet of stream, 4,770 feet of shoreline, and 71 acres of wetland including vernal pools and waterfowl habitat, according to CMP.
The lands will be open to the public, and the Stanton Bird Club has received a $25,000 stewardship donation from CMP as well. The club plans to build a “small trail system” on the new parcel, Damon said, but has not begun that process yet.
The upgrade project involves setting up more than 430 miles of new power lines and five new transmission substations over the next five years, and covers 13 counties. Rice said that most of the new lines will be built in existing power line corridors. CMP says that the project will “enhance the reliability of the system” as well as expand the potential of Maine’s growing alternative energy sector.
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