REED PLANTATION, Maine — One of the world’s largest tech companies and a top-ranked conservation organization who last year partnered to buy a large swath of land in southern Aroostook County are again joining forces to donate a conservation easement on the more than 32,400 acres known as Reed Forest.
In April 2015, Apple gave an undisclosed amount of money to The Conservation Fund to buy and manage more than 36,000 acres of working forestland in Maine and North Carolina, with the vast majority of the land being located on the Mattawamkeag River in The County.
The intent was to maintain the property as a working forest and prevent it from being subdivided or developed for nonforest uses.
The easement puts restrictions on the deed so that use of the land can be monitored and enforced legally in perpetuity, said Tom Duffus, vice president of The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit land trust with offices in Freeport.
Apple also is supporting The Conservation Fund’s donation of an endowment to the Forest Society of Maine to ensure the protection of the land “for centuries to come.”
The easement guarantees recreational activities in the forest, such as hunting and fishing, and requires forest harvest plans to address water quality, native fish and wildlife habitat, scenic benefits and other conservation values, according to the entities involved.
Duffus said Thursday that after last year’s land purchase, officials with The Conservation Fund immediately set about studying the land to inventory it for plant and animal species and natural resources. The land also has been used as a working forest, supplying mills throughout the state and keeping residents of Maine employed, he added.
Reed’s wetlands, rivers and upland forest provide refuge in the North Woods for Atlantic salmon, bald eagle, northern goshawk and Canada lynx, according to The Conservation Fund.
Last year, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environmental Initiatives, co-wrote an article with The Conservation Fund CEO Larry Selzer about the partnership, laying out Apple’s case for starting a campaign to supply 100 percent of the fibers used in its paper and packaging “from sustainably managed forests or controlled wood sources.”
The partnership launched its initiative last year by acquiring the Maine land and another 3,600 acres of pine and hardwood forest along the southern coast of North Carolina. Apple said it is working to buy and conserve working forestland that produces amounts of wood products equivalent to what it uses in packaging for its electronic products.
Alan Hutchinson, executive director of the Forest Society of Maine, said Thursday that he “couldn’t be happier” about the conservation easement project.
“It is a tremendous step forward for our country and a tremendous gain for our state,” he said. “These conservation easements are a real gain for the people of Maine, because they allow landowners to keep the forests as forests. I also think that every company should be so forward thinking about their packaging as Apple is.”