The Blue Hill Peninsula’s second largest single chunk of forest, once harvested for its timber, will now be managed as a recreation and nature preserve under new ownership.
The Blue Hill Heritage Trust purchased 2,031 acres of the Meadowbrook Forest for just under $700,000 on April 26. The land was owned by Lakeville Shores Inc., based in Winn, until it sold a year ago to the Maine Coastal Forest Partnership as part of a purchase of almost 18,000 acres of forest in Hancock and Washington counties, said Hans Carlson, the Blue Hill trust’s executive director.
Blue Hill Heritage raised the money and bought the forest to help preserve its coastal areas and wildlife, and to draw recreationists to the Blue Hill Peninsula, which encompasses the Hancock County towns of Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Castine, Penobscot, Sedgwick and Surry. Located in Surry and Ellsworth, the forest has about 9 miles of old logging roads suitable for hiking and other nonmotorized recreation, Carlson said.
“People are welcome to come walk on the roads there, and it is open for hunting,” Carlson said. “Depending on where you are on the property, there are some lovely wetlands, young forests and habitats. There are plenty of birds in there who like to look at this stuff.”
Some portions of the land had been last harvested 10 to 15 years ago, and about 800 acres of it are protected wetlands and can’t be developed, Carlson said. Besides preserving the forest from development into housing, the purchase will likely add to the quality of life for Hancock County residents, Carlson said.
“It’s not going to be a huge draw in comparison to Acadia,” he said. “On the other hand, if you live in the area, it’s a lovely place to walk around.”
The land also includes the headwaters of Patten Stream, which has been identified by wildlife biologists as an important habitat for alewives, brook trout and, potentially, Atlantic salmon, Carlson said.
The trust has no plans to add hiking trails or other amenities to the forest, Carlson said.
“The land is really being conserved because these are important forests and habitats,” he said. “And down the road, though probably not in my lifetime, there will be some harvesting. But there’s a lot of management that still has to be done.”
The trust was founded in 1985 by residents of the Blue Hill Peninsula. Its goals include conserving farmland, forest, wetlands and wildlife habitat on the peninsula.
Watch: Hiking Blue Hill Mountain in Blue Hill