Cooperative Conservation Protects Habitat and Economy

Joint conservation effort secures 1,200-acres of working forest.

BUCKFIELD, ME | March 08, 2011

More than 1,200 acres of working forestland in Oxford County will be protected by a conservation collaboration of The Nature Conservancy, Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine and the Androscoggin Land Trust.

New conservation easements will ensure that this important forestland is managed sustainably so that it can continue to support Maine’s wood products industries, as well as providing wildlife habitat and helping to protect the quality of the Nezinscot and Androscoggin rivers.

The property, which is the last piece of an anonymous donation made to The Nature Conservancy a decade ago, was purchased in January by a timber investment company. Over the past decade, the Conservancy has sought out landowners who will manage the land in accordance with the donor’s wish that it remain a part of the local forest products economy, said William Brune, director of land protection for The Nature Conservancy.

“We’re pleased to see this land conserved as working forest, so that it can contribute both to habitat and to Maine’s forest traditional forest industries,” Brune said.

The Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM) will hold a conservation easement on the bulk of the forestland, requiring that future harvests be done in accordance with sustainability criteria for certified wood. SWOAM has also purchased a smaller nearby parcel that will be used to demonstrate environmentally sound forestry methods. This week, the demonstration forest was officially named the Everett Towle Forest in honor of a past president and leader of the organization.

Everett Towle served for 34 years with the U.S. Forest Service before retiring in 1990, including stints as senior forester for comprehensive planning throughout the National Forest system, and as supervisor of the Inyo National Forest in California. He now manages his own 200-acre certified Tree Farm in Buxton.

“I’m always amazed about how generous Maine woodland owners are, and how deeply they care about their properties,” said Tom Doak, SWOAM’s executive director.

A working forest conservation easement on the Everett Towle Forest will be held by The Androscoggin Land Trust, which now protects nearly 500 acres in the Jersey Bog watershed. This area is of great importance as deer wintering habitat and waterfowl breeding territory, and its northern white cedar swamps have been cited as rare by the Maine Natural Areas Program.

“For nearly a decade, Jersey Bog has been an area of focus for our organization,” said Androscoggin Land Trust Executive Director Jonathan P. LaBonte. “Protecting the Androscoggin River also means working aggressively to conserve critical lands in its tributaries. We are proud to be part of this collaborative to advance that.”

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

The Androscoggin Land Trust is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) membership-supported organization dedicated to protecting, through land conservation and stewardship, the important natural areas, traditional landscapes, and outdoor experience in the Androscoggin River watershed. We currently conserve over 4,650 acres of land, including over ten miles of riverfront along the Androscoggin River. Visit the Androscoggin Land Trust on the Web at

The Small Woodlot Owners Association of Maine is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) membership-supported organization that aims to promote stewardship of Maine’s small woodland resources, provide information for better forest management and advocate for Maine’s small woodland owners. Visit SWOAM on the Web at

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

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Misty Edgecomb

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