Public access to the Kennebec Highlands will soon expand by 813 acres of forests, waters, fields, wetlands and exceptional recreational lands.
The new land acquisition resulted from the collaborative leadership of the 7 Lakes Alliance and the Maine Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s Bureau of Public Lands. Fueled by the vision and commitment of outdoor enthusiasts, communities and landowners over two decades, the partnership has culminated in the protection of this spectacular landscape.
Widely known as the Allen’s blueberry lands, this critical property includes 650 acres atop Vienna Mountain that offer 360-degree views from the coast to the western mountains. A quick glance at a map shows these lands to be at the very heart of the Kennebec Highlands. Poor road conditions limit vehicular access to these lands; road improvements are expected later this summer. The protection of an additional 140 acres around the McIntire Pond watershed in New Sharon exemplifies 7 Lakes’ priority on protecting water quality by conserving surrounding lands.
Together, these lands will give the public access to outdoor recreation, provide wildlife habitat and protect treasured waters now and for future generations.
These newly acquired lands represent the largest inholding within the Kennebec Highlands Public Reserved Land. The acquisition builds on the more than 20 years that the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) has worked with 7 Lakes Alliance (formerly Belgrade Region Conservation Alliance) to conserve 6,800 acres across this significant landscape.
“We are humbled to build on the decades of work of so many before us, including state partners, public and private partners,” said Laura Rose Day, President and CEO of 7 Lakes Alliance. “We’re honored that many of the original grassroots volunteers who envisioned and created the Kennebec Highlands still help guide our organization today.”
This crucial acquisition, as with the entire Kennebec Highlands, was possible only with generous public, foundation and private support. The state Land for Maine’s Future Program selected the acquisition as one of only five projects of statewide significance in its first round of new funding in early 2022.
In coming months, BPL will develop plans for how best to manage these critical lands. That includes creating new trails and coordinating them with the existing trail system, managing the blueberry fields and coordinating public blueberry-picking. 7 Lakes will continue to help steward the Kennebec Highlands in close partnership with BPL and looks forward to keeping the public informed and engaged in the future of the spectacular Kennebec Highlands.