PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Environmentalists and town officials in Greenville are celebrating a massive conservation easement that will protect a huge swath of forest land for wildlife, recreation and forestry.
"Just yesterday, we finally closed on the 2nd largest conservation easement ever done in the United States' history," Mike Tetreault, executive director of The Nature Conservancy, announced to the crowd gathered at the Maine Historical Society.
The 363,000 acres of land in the Moosehead region will be protected from future development, while still being harvested for timber and open to the public for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities.
"It is a great day for the Greenville area, it really is," stated Greenville town manager Gary Lamb. "The fact that this is going to continue to be a working forest, and that traditional Maine access [will remain open] that's the key, so that people can continue to go out on these lands and do what they've been doing for years, and maybe making a living as well."
The agreement between Plum Creek, The Nature Conservancy and the Forest Society of Maine will add another parcel of rugged forest land to the more than one and a half million acres of land protected in the region.
"This land base that we are talking about is vital to the economy of our area, and for so long you have always wondered is it going to remain open for our use? Well, this plan means 363,000 acres will remain open to public use forever," explained Luke Muzzy, Plum Creek's senior land asset manager.
"When you can take a vast landscape like we are doing, and permanently conserve it, that is a gift to future generations for sure."