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September 22, 2017

State moves to protect Maine’s largest sugar maple plantation

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is seeking to acquire a $1.2 million conservation easement, through its Land for Maine's Future program, to protect the Big Six sugar maple plantation in Somerset County.

Maine Public reported the agency is the lead applicant for the 23,600-acre swath of timberland, which accounts for about a quarter of the state's maple syrup output. Much of the maple production at Big Six is done by Canadian syrup producers and most of its syrup is shipped to wholesalers in New Hampshire and Vermont.

The Trust for Public Land is a co-applicant for the easement.

Land for Maine's Future Director Sarah Demers told the station by email it's not unusual for the state to partner with other organizations to apply for LMF funds.

"The state does not privately fund raise and typically does not have dedicated funds available to cover the costs associated with an appraisal, survey, environmental site assessment, etc…which on a large project, can total hundreds of thousands of dollars," Demers wrote.

In May, the Bangor Daily News reported that Big Six owner Paul Fortin had plans to cut down the sugarbush for timber if it didn't receive a conservation easement. Fortin bought Big Six in late 2012, purchasing it from LandVest, a Boston company with land holdings across the U.S., including old timberland in Maine.

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