ELLIOTSVILLE TOWNSHIP, Maine — Elliotsville Plantation Inc., which is owned by philanthropist Roxanne Quimby, announced Monday it is withdrawing its proposal to decommission Wilson Stream Pond Road.
Wilson Stream Pond Road is a .77-mile dirt road that leads to Little Wilson Falls, and a trail leads from there to the upper falls. The road has also been known as Campground Road, Wilson Road and Little Wilson Road.
“The gate to upper and lower Little Wilson Falls will remain open and the road will continue to be accessible to the public,” Lucas St. Clair, president of the Elliotsville Plantation Inc. board of directors, said in a statement Monday. “As we continue to evaluate the possibilities for the future of our property, we are committed to working collaboratively with local government officials and other stakeholders to increase access for outdoor recreation while protecting Maine’s natural resources so future generations enjoy them just as we have.”
Last year, Quimby erected a gate on the road to prevent motorized vehicle access. The gate was vandalized in November. It was discovered in February that the road was still owned by Piscataquis County.
In a 2-1 vote on Aug. 7, the Piscataquis County commissioners took the first step in transferring ownership of the road to Elliotsville Plantation Inc. The road would have remained a permanent public recreation easement, which restricts motorized vehicles but would allow walking and biking.
As part of that agreement, Elliotsville Plantation Inc. would have donated a half-acre plot to be paved as a parking area at the beginning of the road, and the trail leading up to upper Little Wilson Falls would have been improved.
That agreement will likely be vacated, said Tom Lizotte, chairman of the commissioners.
“This is good news for members of the public who access this site,” Lizotte said in a telephone interview Monday.
To nullify the agreement, the commissioners must vote to discontinue the decommissioning process. That vote will likely happen Tuesday morning during the commissioners’ scheduled meeting, said Lizotte.
A news release issued Monday by Elliotsville Plantation Inc. stated that the proposal to decommission the road was no longer needed.
“This summer, the overwhelming use of the road has been for parking to hike to the upper Falls, with few problems at the site,” read the statement.
Lizotte said the gate was erected last year due to problems at the site involving illegal camping, camp fires, drinking and litter. Although the road is county-controlled, the parking area at the end is private property.
“Over the summer, [Elliotsville Plantation Inc.] monitored use of the land,” said Lizotte. “Misuse has been decreasing. Overall, use of the road was to park and hike to the upper falls. As a result of that, there’s no need to discontinue the road.”
The commissioners received a petition on Sept. 4 that was signed by 350 people asking that the gate not return to the road, said Lizotte.
He said future issues with the road could be avoided if people using the site respected the fact that it’s private property.
“If the public continues to be respectful while using the property, there should not be an issue going forward,” said Lizotte.