Rick Van de Poll
Department of Environmental Studies
The Mahoosuc Land trust was started in 1988 to “protect and conserve for the benefit of the general public significant lands and their natural values and traditional characteristics, primarily in the mountain and foothill region of the Mahoosuc Mountains of western Maine.” This region is not clearly defined by specific boundaries but roughly encompasses 1200 square miles or 10-15 U.S.G.S. quadrangles. The area is mountainous and mostly forested with river valleys the site of the first farms and still the area of densest population. The population of this area is approximately 13,000 people (1990 census) and the economy revolves around the wood and paper products industry, tourism, and skiing. The growth of Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry has led to economic development, and in some areas strong development pressures. These pressures will likely continue and result in the development of woodland, farmland and in some cases ecologically sensitive areas. Traditional access to the land for hunting, fishing, hiking, and canoeing is often threatened by development. It is because of these pressures on traditional land use that the Mahoosuc Land Trust was formed. The Trust does have criteria for evaluating land protection proposals. But because of its limited resources the Trust needs to have a system of evaluating all the land in its area, developing a ranking system to prioritize acquisition, and then to create a strategy for accomplishing these projects. The major goal of this project will be to provide the Trust with comprehensive and easy to use information on Western Maine’s most significant natural areas so that they will be able to make clear and substantiated decisions on which properties to protect.