Kennebec Highlands Overview
In 1998, the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (BRCA) initiated a project to protect the Kennebec Highlands area in Rome, Mount Vernon, Vienna, and New Sharon, Maine. The Kennebec Highlands' 6,000 acres contian the highest peaks in Kennebec County, miles of pristine streams, several wetlands, and five undeveloped ponds. The area is now managed in partnership with the Maine Department of Conservation.
The Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (BRCA), the Maine Department of Conservation, and hundreds of residents of the surrounding area, seek to protect an additional 1,000 acres in the existing Kennebec Highlands, including the summit of McGaffey Mountain– the highest point in Kennebec County.
These areas include hundreds of acres of forest habitat, miles of headwater streams, and over 60 acres of valuable wetland habitat. Our long-term goal is to protect over 11,000 acres in and around the Kennebec Highlands, providing a major regional resource for public recreation and wildlife habitat.
In the summer of 2008, BRCA was awarded $227,000 from the Land for Maine’s Future program for the third phase of the Kennebec Highlands project. Phase I and II protected 5,500 acres for public use and habitat – the only such area in central Maine. Phase III target areas include important inholdings and land adjacent to the Highlands, including the summit of McGaffey Mountain. Through acquisitions and easements, Phase III will add 1,011 acres to the Highlands and bring the total amount of protected land to over 6,500 acres.
The Kennebec Highlands remains the largest contiguous block of conserved land in central Maine, and one of the few potential landscape-scale conservation projects in this part of the state. However, the area is increasingly threatened by development and subdivisions and many properties are actually for sale or have changed hands recently. To protect this area from further development, we need to act now.
With your help, BRCA must now raise $595,000 over the next two years to complete these acquisitions, secure the matching grant of $227,000 from the Land for Maine's Future program, and provide a stewardship endowment to protect these vital areas in the Kennebec Highlands.
Your timely donation will also allow us to take advantage of current real estate prices and the many opportunities which now exist.
At present, the Kennebec Highlands is part of 15,000 acres of relatively undeveloped forest and wetland habitat. It is the only forest block of its size, quality, elevation, and bedrock diversity in the central part of the state, proximate to population centers and having substantial portions already preserved. All of these features are critical to the water quality of the Belgrade Lakes Watershed.
Phase III target areas include several hundred acres within the watershed of Long Pond and areas draining into the Sandy River, where Maine IF&W recently documented the return of breeding Atlantic salmon. The Phase III project will also secure two excellent native fisheries with protection of the entire watershed of Boody Pond and much of the watershed of McIntire Pond.
Phase III will also protect several miles of headwater streams which helps improve water quality in larger water bodies downstream. These streams are also a valuable habitat in their own right.
As a land trust, we have both a legal and ethical commitment to take care of conserved lands in perpetuity. That means ensuring they will be here and in good shape for generations into the future. Stewardship includes concrete demands like paying taxes, performing road and trail maintenance, visiting easement properties to ensure compliance, and annual reporting to the IRS as well as the state. Because stewardship is a permanent responsibility with ongoing costs, a portion of BRCA's fundraising effort for the Phase III project will be to raise stewardship endowment funds.
Of the 1,011 acres targeted for acquisition at this time, 475 will be transferred to the State of Maine for their supervision as part of the Kennebec Highlands. BRCA will retain ownership of a 77-acre parcel on the West side of the Highlands. BRCA will also steward two additional conservation easements totaling 463 acres with trail construction rights providing public access. Both of these will be managed in cooperation with the Maine Department of Conservation.
As development pressures continue to encroach on the beautiful Belgrade Lakes, it is imperative that we act now to protect our remaining large tracts of land and open space. Once they are sold and divided, it will be almost impossible to conserve them for the future. Continuing our efforts to protect the Kennebec Highlands will assure that future generations will be able to enjoy the mountains, ponds and landscape as we do now.
Conservation will help guarantee that hiking, fishing and hunting will be there in the future. Help us conserve the remainder of the Kennebec Highlands with your donations. Have satisfaction that your contributions go to protect this heritage for all future generations.
BRCA has purchased, holds an option on, or is near reaching an agreement on over 1,000 acres in all the target properties for Phase III of the Kennebec Highlands. BRCA expects to close on most or all of these parcels by the end of 2009. Although BRCA has already purchased a portion of this land, we need to recoup these funds as soon as possible to ensure long-term financial strength and to restore our ability to act quickly if the opportunity to purchase other target parcels becomes available. In addition to covering our internal costs, BRCA is required to match the funds awarded by the Land for Maine's Future program.
Finally, because BRCA will take on the responsibility to care for 540 acres in perpetuity, we must build our stewardship endowment to provide the funds necessary to meet this obligation.
BRCA needs your help today to raise $595,000 over the next two years to complete Phase III acquisitions and to continue our efforts to ensure the long term health of the Belgrade Lakes Watershed.
Purchase price: $563,000
Land for Maine’s Future funding: $227,000
Conserving large vistas intact is a monumental task – one that is worth every effort possible from all of us. We need future generations to be able to look back and see this land as we do now.
To forever preserve this magnificence for generations to come, we need your help with contributions at all levels. In addition to cash donations, gifts of appreciated securities, real estate, or other assets may offer significant tax benefits. Your gift may also be pledged over two or more years.
For your convenience, BRCA maintains a brokerage account at LPL/Golden Pond Wealth Management, 129 Silver Street, Waterville, Maine 04901. Instructions for delivering gifts of securities may be obtained from Golden Pond Wealth Management by calling Holly Caron at (207) 873-2200.
The Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, Inc. is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c) (3) charitable organization, with all gifts tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
For any questions about making a gift to BRCA please contact the BRCA Treasurer Dick Greenan at (207) 495-3740 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the BRCA at: Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, Inc.