ChipLakeNEWS InfoSheet

This InfoSheet is number: 1040

Summary: An information letter from the Woodie Wheaton Trust Fund
about the progress of the conservation discussions and
arrangements regarding the shores of Spednic Lake.

Dear Bill,

I thought CLIC members would be interested to know about the Spednic/St. Croix River Conservation Project and its status.

In September, 2000, Wagner Timber Partners, Ltd. submitted a proposal to the Land for Maine's Future Board (LMFB) to sell a 500' easement along 15.6 miles of Spednic Lake and 33.6 miles along the west shore of the St. Croix River from Vanceboro to Grand Falls Flowage near Kellyland. The project would preserve the natural character of this wonderful segment of international waterway for present and future generations and gain certain public access rights to the river.

Woodie Wheaton Land trust has been actively working toward the Spednic acquision for several years, falling short on a more modest proposal submitted by The Timber Company, a subsidiary of Georgia-Pacific. The current proposal was carefully prepared and presented, with broad public support garnered and focused at critical times. The river segment was added to address the interests of the St. Croix International Waterway Commission and others who recognize the unique unspoiled character of the river for canoeing and outdoor recreation. The Spednic/St. Croix Project was one of 37 projects submitted to LMFB in the highly competitive first round for funding allocations. WWLT joined the applicant as a partner, meaning we would also commit money to the project.

In January, 2001, we were pleased to learn that LMFB selected the Spednic/St. Croix Project as a finalist for funding, and make it a priority for acquisition. LMFB committed $1 million to the project, pending an appraisal, the identification of matching funds (on a formula to be decided sometime later), and numerous other particulars. The figure kicked around for the project was $4 million, but that constitutes little more than an initial asking price.

On April 9, 2001, a planning workshop was held in Bangor at the suggestion of WWLT to get a clearer idea of how the project will unfold, what will be pursued, what rights and title are desired, what peripheral need to be addressed, which State agencies will manage the piece(es), etc. Parts of that meeting remain at discussion level only, but several points did reach concensus. At Wagner's request, and consistent with a larger public concern regarding acquisition monies, it is likely that the 500' corridor would be sold fee simple to the State of Maine rather than conveyed by conservation easement. Wood harvesting would likely not occur within this 500' protected zone. Public access to traditional sites would be conveyed by instument, almost all of which are on the river segment.

Fundraising has not been specifically addressed yet, inasmuch as an appraisal is preliminary to know exactly what the project involves and how much it will cost. Private match money will be both essential and substantial at some point, but it may not be necessary to achieve the 50-50 match that LMFB pusues on an overall statewide basis.

The Wagner land is the last remaining industrial, large ownership tract on the shore and, if successful, will complete a decade-long effort by Woodie Wheaton Land Trust, the St. Croix International Waterway Commission, the Province of New Brunswick, and the State of Maine to protect Spednic and Mud Lake shorelines for the public to enjoy in their semi-wild condition. Four conservation projects on the American side of Spednic precede this one.

The Spednic Lake portion would be placed under the control and management of Maine's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (consistent with prior acquisitions), while the river segment would go to the Department of Conservation. Conservation would thus manage campsites along the river.

We feel that residents and users of the waterway benefit tremendously from these efforts and that a precious piece of Maine will be permanently protected. I'll try to update CLIC from time to time as more is known.

Dale Wheaton, President
Woodie Wheaton Land Trust

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