Interior Washington County, Maine is still rich in the natural resources on which its economy depends. Downeast Lakes Land Trust’s success is due to remarkably strong local support. In Grand Lake Stream and the Downeast Lakes region, people’s work has been their source of intimate connection with the place. Residents recognize the value of what they have and appreciate the traditional uses of the land. Our conservation projects have been endorsed by local interests ranging from the Grand Lake Stream Regional Chamber of Commerce, to the Passamaquoddy Tribe, to the Woodland pulp mill in Baileyville, our region’s largest employer.
A thousand acres of Maine timberland sustains an average of 1.4 direct jobs in the forest products industry*, and a total of 3.2 jobs including indirect effects. This coarse average suggests the Downeast Lakes Community Forest sustains approximately 175 jobs and the Sunrise Easement approximately 1,000 jobs.
We have substantially protected the existing sporting guide and camp industries, providing the environment for their continued success and confident investment in their businesses. More difficult to measure, but long lasting, are the economic benefits of clean water, clean air, open space, wildlife habitat, pristine shorelines, and local recreational opportunities.
*Based on a 2010 report from The Maine Forest Service and Maine State Planning Office “How the Forest Legacy Program Supports Maine’s Economy and Quality of Life”.
The presence of the Downeast Lakes Land Trust has brought a growing array of educational programs to the Downeast Lakes region. Our “History & Heritage” series of workshops and lectures for adults, and our summer programs for children contribute to local knowledge and a sense of community. In addition, DLLT works with several local schools, providing environmental education free of charge and fostering a sense of connection to the land that will help to inspire the next generation of stewards of the Downeast Lakes region. In 2017, DLLT worked with nine different Washington County schools, directly benefiting more than 150 individual students. These programs, along with land trust meetings in which members work together to make decisions, build community capacity, social capital, and leadership skills.
The Downeast Lakes region is fortunate to have productive wildlife habitats. Eastern and northern Maine’s Acadian forests are part of the largest contiguous block of forest matrix in the eastern United States. It is an ecological resource of global significance providing habitat to a great diversity of plant and animal life. Habitats vary from open water to non-forested wetlands, forested wetlands, and uplands. Forests vary from boreal conifers to northern hardwoods, with a wide range of age classes. Driven by DLLT’s all-volunteer Fish and Wildlife Habitat committee, plans for habitat restoration and creation are designed by local wildlife biologists, foresters, Maine guides, and other community members. Learn more about DLLT’s habitat work.
The 57,703-acre Downeast Lakes Community Forest will always be accessible for outdoor recreation. Recreation in the region is centered on the outstanding aquatic resources of the Downeast Lakes. The community forest protects 91 miles of undeveloped lakeshore and the surrounding watershed, guaranteeing these shores will never be developed or closed to public access.
Boat landings within the community forest on Wabassus Lake, Fourth Machias Lake, and Sysladobsis Lake allow hand-carry or light trailer boat access, but may not be suitable for heavy or deep-draft boats on trailers. Hand-carry access is available to the two Getchell Lakes. Woodland Pulp manages the boat access to Pocumcus Lake at Ellsmore Landing, a property that neighbors the community forest, and the improved boat ramp at the outlet of West Grand Lake in Grand Lake Stream. In addition, there is a convenient public landing at the southern end of Water Street in Greenlaw Chopping Township, on the western shore of Big Lake.
DLLT is committed to open public access for hunting, trapping, and other traditional uses of the community forest, subject to Maine regulations. DLLT maintains roughly 14 miles of hiking trails within the community forest, providing access for a wide range of birding and wildlife-viewing opportunities.
DLLT maintains vehicle access within the community forest. Road maintenance is supported by DLLT’s sustainable timber management. Snowmobile and ATV trail access is maintained in cooperation with the Grand Lake Snowmobile Club and the Grand Lake Stream ATV club.