MILFORD, Maine — More than 12,700 acres of forest land located next to the Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge have been purchased by the The Nature Conservancy in Maine, partly because of a “mid-six-figure range” grant from TD Bank, the group’s acting director said Friday.
The sale of the land, which is located to the east of the County Road, closed last week, according to Tom Rumpf, acting director for The Nature Conservancy’s Maine chapter.
The property is called the Sunkhaze-Bradley corridor because it connects the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Sunkhaze Meadows with 9,277 acres of state preservation lands, called the Bradley unit. Now, it’s the Sunkhaze-Bradley Preserve.
“Altogether it’s around 35,000 acres” of conserved lands, Rumpf said. “It’s a nice piece of protected land. It protects wildlife and recreation for hunting, fishermen and for people who just like to walk in the woods.”
The parcel features a spruce fir and white pine conifer forest interspersed with a network of streams and beaver flowages that are important waterfowl habitat, according to The Nature Conservancy of Maine.
The Maine conservancy group paid around $3 million for an easement for the Bradley-Sunkhaze corridor in 2007 through GMO Renewable Resources of Bangor, which later sold the land in 2011 to BBC Land LLC.
“We reached an initial agreement with GMO to acquire the property … [and] they agreed to sell us an easement back in 2007,” Rumpf said. “Five or six years ago, it was purchased by BBC Land. We did have this legal agreement, and the new landowner agreed to sell us the land.”
TD Bank, through its TD Forest program, selected the project “because the land is a valued and accessible area for outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing, hiking and snowmobiling east of Bangor,” a Friday news release about the conservation project states.
The amount of the grant will be announced at 1 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4, at a gathering and recognition ceremony at TD Bank’s Auburn Contact Center inside the Auburn Mall Shopping Center on Center Street.
“It’s six figure, mid-six figure range,” Rumpf said of the grant amount. “It’s designed to help protect forest land and other lands.”
The Sunkhaze-Bradley corridor property has three major streams — Great Works Stream, Titcomb Brook and Little Birch Stream — and is home to a broad range of animals, including beaver, deer, moose, bear and birds.
“Maine is home to a number of very diverse and important habitats, including the forested wetlands and peatlands in this forest,” Joe Doolan, Head of Environmental Affairs at TD Bank, said in the release. “With this land purchase in Maine, TD Bank is proud to say we have protected critical forest habitats across our Maine to Florida footprint, demonstrating our commitment to be an environmental leader.”
TD Forest has helped to preserve more than 25,000 acres since its creation in 2012.
“We’re excited to be able to close on this property and appreciate the patience of the two landowners to complete this project,” Rumpf said.
The Nature Conservancy of Maine has been looking at areas in the region to protect for their ecological reserves and natural values and “this was one of the general areas that popped up,” Rumpf said.
“This is a great addition to Maine’s conserved forest lands, particularly given its close proximity to the Bangor area,” he said.