Trout Unlimited worked with the Trust for Public Land and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to purchase and protect an 8,000-acre parcel in Maine’s North Woods that exemplifies the best of Maine’s wild brook trout habitat. The parcel protects Cold Stream, a high-value brook trout stream, from its source to its mouth, and also includes eight wild brook trout ponds. Cold Stream supports spawning for trophy brook trout from the Kennebec River and the ponds on the parcel have a long history as destinations for anglers from many local sporting camps. Protecting this valuable piece of land–the region’s largest intact wintering area for deer–would provide improvement on 12 miles of Cold Stream and would provide access for anglers and other sportsmen.
More than a decade ago, TU signed a settlement agreement with the owner of the Indian Pond hydroelectric project. Among other things, the settlement provided nearly $1 million for habitat protection and restoration. TU advocated that the bulk of the fund be used to protect existing, intact brook trout habitat in Cold Stream, which supports of the majority of spawning t for Kennebec River brook trout. The other settlement parties agreed, and TU sought assistance from the Trust for Public Land (TPL) in 2011 to contact landowner Plum Creek (recently acquired by Weyerhauser) about a conservation sale. The sale was completed in early 2016.
In 2012, the Trust for Public Lands, TU and the state of Maine sought funding from the federal Forest Legacy project to protect this parcel. In early 2014, the US Forest Service’s 2014 budget ranked the Cold Stream Forest Project as fourth in the nation for funding from the Forest Legacy Program, and awarded $6 million in funding. Maine’s bond-funded Land for Maine’s Future Program awarded $1.5 million in matching state funds in July 2014.
Unfortunately, a political fight between the Maine Legislature and the Governor over the Land for Maine’s Future Program stalled the project for nearly two years. In 2015 and early 2016, TPL, TU, the Land for Maine’s Future Coalition, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and a bipartisan majority of Maine legislators restored the program, and funding for Cold Stream was finally released in late February. The property was transferred to the State of Maine in late March 2016.
Jeff Reardon– email@example.com