Article and Photo By Ramona du Houx

July 8, 2009

The Governor joined Legislators, conservation groups and local officials to celebrate a major step forward in permanently protecting over 2,400 acres of recreational lake frontage between Milo and Millinocket, last spring.

“Seboeis Lake is a shining example of how protecting Maine’s special places is linked to our economic vitality,” said Governor John Baldacci. “With the help of our Land for Maine’s Future program, we are guaranteeing permanent public access for all traditional outdoor activities, we’re bolstering the tourist economy in the Millinocket region, and we’re preserving a treasured resource.”

The new acquisition includes 12 miles of frontage on Seboeis Lake and Northwest Pond and another 4.8 miles of island shoreline. The 2,434 acres will be added to the existing Seboeis Unit, building on an earlier Land for Maine’s Future-funded acquisition at the south end of Seboeis Lake. With this addition, 95 percent of the Seboeis Lake shoreline now is permanently protected for public access and closed to private development.

Public access will be guaranteed to approximately five miles of Interconnected Trail System Connector Trail 111, which links two major north-south snowmobile routes between the Brownville area and Millinocket.

Patrick McGowan, Commissioner of the Department of Conservation, said, “Seboeis is a great piece of land cherished by the local community and ideal for camping, snowmobiling, fishing, hunting and ATV riding. This is one of the reasons why Land for Maine’s Future has been so successful in all 16 of Maine’s counties, because it conserves great land that people love. This acquisition is tied very tightly to the local community. It is a wonderful addition to the public ownership in this region of Maine.”

“Today we have come very close to the goal of making the entire Seboeis Lake area a public asset, a place that can never be closed off,” said Sam Hodder, The Trust for Public Land Maine director. “Once again, Governor Baldacci and the Legislature have shown their commitment, through their support of the Land for Maine’s Future program, to investing in our natural resources. It will pay dividends today in spectacular opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, and opportunities for the local communities to earn tourism dollars, but it is also a legacy for future generations.”

The $2.4 million purchase was made possible by funds from three sources:
• A grant of $897,000 from the Land for Maine’s Future program;
• $503,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grants Program; and
• $1 million from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

Seboeis Lake offers clear waters, scenic vistas, which include Mt. Katahdin, and many opportunities for camping, fishing, canoeing, and wildlife viewing. It has the largest population of nesting loons on any lake in northern Maine except Moosehead. The shores of Northwest Pond, in the newly acquired area, offer some of the finest moose watching in the entire region.

“The Land for Maine’s Future Board has been committed to this area for many years,” said George Lapointe, the chair of the Land for Maine’s Future Board. “This is a sound investment that protects Maine’s heritage as well as the foundation of a healthy economic future for our citizens, especially in the hard-hit rural areas of the State.”

Two years ago, state government along with the local community, recreational groups and landowners worked together to acquire land surrounding the lake. All the stakeholders came together understanding they were preserving a unique part of Maine for future generations.

Gene Collogue, Millinocket Town Manager, said, “The Seboeis purchase is part of a larger package in the Millinocket area that was previously negotiated. This is a major step toward realizing completion of the total deal that includes several parcels of land north of Millinocket owned by Roxanne Quimby. It will add to the assurance that current multi-use trails and other recreational uses will be protected while allowing for more to be constructed in the future. This area of the state prides itself on being a working forest that also provides abundant recreational opportunities and we want that to continue.”

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. In Maine, TPL has protected more than 111,000 acres with projects ranging from city parks and pathways to coastal habitat and working farms and forests.

The Land for Maine’s Future Program was created in 1987 in response to concerns over the loss of critical natural areas and wildlife habitat along with traditional access to undeveloped lands for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. To date, the LMFP has protected over 490,000 acres of Maine’s best recreational and natural areas.

The LMFP Program also seeks to protect farmlands through the purchase of development rights and public access to water for fishing boating and commercial marine activities.