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March 13, 2015

AMC adds 4,311 acres to Maine Woods Initiative

Noah Kleiner Baker Mountain, the second-highest peak in Maine between Bigelow Mountain and Katahdin, is now permanently protected following a purchase by The Appalachian Mountain Club with assistance from The Nature Conservancy.

The Appalachian Mountain Club, partnering with The Nature Conservancy, has purchased 4,311 acres in two parcels on and around Baker Mountain in the 100-Mile Wilderness region near Greenville.

The two parcels abut almost 70,000 acres of AMC’s conservation and recreation land holdings in its Katahdin Iron Works property and conserve the second-highest peak in Maine between Bigelow Mountain and Katahdin. The purchase lies within an unfragmented roadless area of mature hardwood and softwood forest and includes the preferred habitat of the rare Bicknell’s thrush and the headwaters of the West Branch of the Pleasant River, which is a vibrant wild brook trout fishery.

The purchase — including land acquisition, establishment of a stewardship endowment fund and related expenses — cost about $2.4 million, according to AMC Senior Vice President Walter Graff.

“Baker Mountain was surrounded by conservation lands, but the Baker Mountain tract itself was not protected. It was ‘the hole in the doughnut,’ and with this purchase, AMC and its conservation partner, The Nature Conservancy, have ensured that this ecologically significant land will be protected,” Graff said in a press release announcing the purchase.

The land will be managed for a variety of uses, including recreation, habitat protection, and sustainable forestry. AMC will be providing pedestrian access to the land.

Graff noted that The Nature Conservancy was a key partner in the acquisition of the 3,111-acre parcel from Prentiss & Carlisle Group and holds a “forever wild” conservation easement covering about 75% of Baker Mountain, including its 3,521-foot summit. The second parcel, comprising 1,200 acres, was purchased from Plum Creek Timber Co. and is permanently protected by the Moosehead Regional Conservation Easement, held by the Forest Society of Maine.

Michael Tetreault, director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine, said the purchase conserves “an important ecological gem in Baker Mountain, within a mosaic of working forest lands.”

AMC also used proceeds from the sale of verified carbon emission offset credits from its ecological reserve lands as an important funding source for this land acquisition effort. The Portland law firm Drummond Woodsum did the legal work enabling AMC to qualify its reserve as a carbon offset project, which provides an additional revenue stream through the sale of Climate Action Reserve-registered credits in the voluntary market.

Donations from Steven C. Leuthold and his family and other AMC donors also helped AMC and the Nature Conservancy acquire the parcels, which are the latest milestones in AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative, land conservation plan in the 100-Mile Wilderness region that AMC says “addresses regional ecological and economic needs through outdoor recreation, resource protection, sustainable forestry, and community partnerships.”

The transactions bring AMC’s conservation and recreation land holdings in the 100-Mile Wilderness region to some 70,000 acres.

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