2014-2017 GRANTS

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Forest Society of Maine, ME - A grant to secure a permanent, forever wild conservation easement held by the Forest Society of Maine on the Silver Lake -Pleasant River Reserve in Piscataquis County, purchased in fee by the Appalachian Mountain Club. This 4,344 acre property includes an approximately 400-acre mature silver maple floodplain forest-one of the largest and least disturbed in Maine-that has not been harvested in more than a hundred years. This majestic forest lies along the West Branch of the Pleasant River, of which 12 miles on both sides are protected by this project, along with most of the shoreline of 279 acre Silver Lake.

The West Branch of the Pleasant River and its tributaries flowing through the protected property contain high quality habitat for native brook trout, as well as for Atlantic salmon, alewife, American shad, American eel, and other diadromous fish. The property also provides some of the best breeding habitat for American black duck in the United States as well as for Canada lynx, northern long-eared bat, and wood turtle. This project extends the existing wilderness protection at Katahdin Iron Works, funded in part by Sweet Water Trust, and builds on FSM's 2016 project at Gulf Hagas/Whitecap, all of which form part of some 2,000,000 acres of contiguous conservation lands in Maine's North Woods, one of the largest protected blocks in the Eastern United States. Such large blocks of protected habitat contribute to ecological connectivity across the landscape, providing for the movement and dispersal of flora and fauna in the region. ($1,000,000 -- 2016)*

Downeast Lakes Land Trust, ME - A grant to secure a permanent, forever wild conservation easement held by the Forest Society of Maine on the 7,100 acre Amazon-Musquash Reserve in Washington County, part of the West Grand Lakes project. The protected property includes extensive frontage on Amazon Brook and Big Musquash Stream and a diversity of intact natural habitats, including these rare and exemplary natural communities mapped by the Maine Natural Areas Program: the Big Musquash Domed Bog Ecosystem; an Unpatterned Fen Ecosystem at West Musquash Stream, considered exceptional because of its 3,760-acre size and the range of natural communities it includes; and Birch-Oak Talus and Ironwood-Oak-Ash woodlands on Pineo Mountain. The protected property provides habitat for diverse wildlife species, including black bear, bobcat, moose, and pine marten, as well as brook trout, landlocked salmon, and many species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

This ecological reserve further contributes to the protection of the St. Croix River watershed and fisheries habitat and water quality downstream to Passamaquoddy Bay. Protection of this property builds on and helps link significant tracts of other protected land, including the Fourth Machias Ecological Reserve of Downeast Lakes Land Trust (an earlier Sweet Water Trust project), other DLLT lands, the Duck Lake and Machias River Units of Maine Public Reserved Lands (also a previous Sweet Water Trust-supported project), and extensive privately-owned lands protected through perpetual conservation easements. These lands combine to represent over 400,000 acres of contiguous protected land in Maine, adjacent to a larger area of public land in New Brunswick, Canada. Such an area is considered large enough by conservation scientists to maintain most ecological functions and processes naturally present and to include the minimum conditions necessary for long-term survival and adaptation of constituent species and populations. ($750,000 -- 2016)*

The Nature Conservancy, VT. - Support for the Vermont Chapter of The Nature Conservancy's and the State of Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department's work retiring roads within the core 12,500 acre "forever wild" reserve area of the West Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Essex County (in the "Northeast Kingdom"). This work will restore approximately eight miles of existing roads to a more natural state. Decommissioning and restoring roads prevents ongoing negative ecological impacts to natural areas, including non-native plant colonization, alterations to wildlife habitat, and disruptions to natural hydrology. ($37,500 -- 2015)

Friends of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Inc. QUEBEC - A grant for continuing land protection by the Nature Conservancy of Canada's Appalachian Corridor project, protecting a corridor of ecologically significant lands in the Green Mountains of Quebec running from the Canada/United States border north to Mount Sutton and Mount Orford. This grant ensures permanent, forever wild protection of three parcels totaling over 1,100 acres, all of which will become part of the Green Mountains Nature Reserve, permanently protected through Quebec's Ecological Reserve system. Building on a transborder connectivity corridor, the protection of these properties will contribute to the preservation of wide-ranging mammals such as moose, black bear, bobcat, and fisher, as well as providing important habitat for rare wood turtles and northern dusky and spring salamanders. Of this now approximately 24,000 acre protected area, over half has been conserved with Sweet Water Trust's assistance. ($250,000 - 2015)

Forest Society of Maine, ME - Two grants to perform due diligence and to establish a monitoring/stewardship endowment for the forever wild conservation easement on the 2,309 acre West Branch Dead Stream Reserve property in Atkinson and Charleston, Piscataquis and Penobscot Counties, an easement held by Forest Society of Maine on land purchased by Northeast Wilderness Trust. Now protected in perpetuity as an ecological reserve, this property supports many representative natural communities, including dwarf shrub bog, black spruce forested bog, and mixed hardwood-conifer forest. Also protected are approximately fifteen miles of frontage along Levensellor Brook -- an important tributary of Alder Stream -- and the West Branch of Dead Stream. Together, these streams provide important habitat for federally endangered Atlantic salmon and wild native brook trout. The property forms part of the Piscataquis River/Alder Stream Wetlands complex, an approximately 20,000 acre protected area that includes one of the largest, most varied, and intact freshwater wetland systems in Maine as recognized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's North American Wetlands Conservation Act program (which, along with a private donor, funded the fee acquisition) and by the State of Maine under Maine's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Sweet Water Trust, Northeast Wilderness Trust, and Forest Society of Maine partnered to secure federal and private funding for this mosaic of protected land. (2015- $30,000, 2017 - $15,000*)

Forest Society of Maine, ME - A grant for baseline documentation work and for a monitoring/stewardship endowment in conjunction with Sweet Water Trust's assignment to Forest Society of Maine of the forever wild conservation easement on Downeast Lake Land Trust's 4th Machias Lake Ecological Reserve, approximately 3,500 acres located in T5 and T6 ND, Washington County, Maine. (2017 - $55,700)*

Northeast Wilderness Trust, VT - For support of Northeast Wilderness Trust's program of protecting wilderness lands in the Northern Appalachians through fee acquisition and permanent conservation easements. This rare operations support recognizes Northeast Wilderness Trust's key partnership in protecting large blocks of ecologically significant land in the North Woods. Northeast Wilderness Trust is the only land trust in the Northeast dedicated exclusively to wildlands protection. Multi-year grant. ($75,000 - 2014; $50,000 - 2015 [final payment])

Northeast Wilderness Trust, VT - A grant for baseline documentation work and for a monitoring/stewardship endowment in conjunction with Sweet Water Trust's assignment of the forever wild conservation easement over The Nature Conservancy's approximately 1,170 acre West Mountain Preserve, consisting of four parcels in Brunswick, Vermont. These lands form part of the 12,500 forever wild portion of the West Mountain Wildlife Management area and are at the center of a 66,000 acre block of protected lands unbroken by paved roads. The Preserve hosts 21 natural communities of statewide significance and numerous rare and uncommon plant and animal species. (2017 - $39,500)*

* Note that these grants were made through the Maine Community Foundation, ME from Sweet Water Trust's donor advised fund, established to support forever wild land protection projects in key ecologically significant areas of the Northern Appalachians.