Frenchville grants 120-acre nature reserve for forestry education and recreation
FRENCHVILLE, Maine – Off the back roads of Frenchville, 120 acres of woodland, fields and wetlands are now forever protected from development.
With a grant of $ 55,500 from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program, Frenchville placed a conservation easement on a piece of tax-acquired property that the University of Maine at Fort Kent and the St. John Valley Technology Center used. for forestry and ecological research. .
It is also the only public land in the city that has walking and cycling trails that do not allow the use of ATVs or other motorized vehicles.
Maine is one of the most private states in the nation – only about 10 percent of all land in the state is public. Although northern Maine remains relatively undeveloped even on private land, the easement will prevent any future development and subdivision of the conservation property, leaving it in its natural state for the use of future generations.
Frenchville has owned the land for years, and Steve Young, a wildlife biologist and expert in habitat management, mapping and maintenance since 2006. Young is with the Upper St. John River Organization, which is a land management and land trust organization in far north Maine. .
The process of obtaining the conservation easement began in 2009, when Frenchville City Manager Philip Levesque gave Young the green light to seek funds to protect the parcel of land which is now the only public conservation in the nature of Frenchville.
“Our goal is to maintain all ecosystems, to maintain biodiversity and things like that,” Young said. “We are trying to promote [the St. John Valley’s] woods as wood for habitat – not for fiber.
Young worked with local students to study the flora and fauna already present on the property – creating maps to track species growth and competition in different parts of the land – as well as planting new wildlife. Student-planted milkweed, red oak and apple plants grow in the few acres of land bordering the property.
Bears, moose, hawks and even a rare species of indoor sandpiper have all been sighted on the property. One of the many nesting boxes in the conservation area is usually run over by one of the forest’s largest dwellers – Young suspects a bear.
As an educational tool, hands-on experience is particularly useful for students studying forestry, Young said.
“It puts into perspective how long it takes,” Young said. “If you cut cedar, it will probably take you 200 years to see it again. “
The Frenchville Dark Sky Observatory is also parked on the property, at the end of a rocky dirt road overlooking the grounds. The Upper St. John River Organization is measuring light pollution levels there in hopes of certifying the observatory with an official dark sky designation.
Frenchville City Manager David Cyr received a check for $ 55,500 from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program which finalized the easement on the land. Cyr said it’s good to know that the area will always be a place for Frenchville people to study and enjoy nature.
While the income is a nice addition to the city’s budget, Cyr said that wasn’t necessarily the intention when his predecessors called on Young to help preserve the land years ago. The fact that Young held on for over a decade to see the project come to fruition is remarkable in itself.
“An inferior mortal would have given up long ago,” Cyr said.
The land conservation area remains open to the public.
Correction: A previous version of this article contained an error in the name of the Upper St. John River Organization.