Central Maine’s Alder Stream Preserve expands by nearly 2,300 acres

The Alder Stream Preserve, located in Charleston and Atkinson, has recently expanded by 2,293 acres as a result of the conservation work of the Northeast Wilderness Trust. The addition will bring the preserve’s total acreage to 6,083.

Courtesy of Northeast  Wilderness Trust Alder Stream Preserve.

Courtesy of Northeast Wilderness Trust
Alder Stream Preserve.

The recent addition, purchased by the trust in January, contains extensive wetlands that provide exceptional habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, as well as approximately 15 miles of frontage along Levensellor Brook and Dead Stream, critical habitat for Atlantic salmon.

In a bird survey of the property, 41 bird species were recorded; one highlight was a singing clay-colored sparrow—a species has been confirmed breeding only once in Maine, according to a recent press release.

Courtesy of Northeast Wilderness Trust

Courtesy of Northeast Wilderness Trust

“Right now there are some logging roads on the property, and we’re in the process of evaluating which of these to maintain as hiking trails,” said Jennifer Esser, communications and development director for Northeast Wilderness Trust.

Recreationists must acquire a permit to access the property, which is open for hiking, canoeing, fishing and deer hunting. Permits, which are good for a year, are available at Snow’s Saw Shop at 101 S Stagecoach Road in Atkinson.

The recent addition was purchased by Northeast Wilderness Trust from forest products and real estate company H.C. Haynes, Inc. in late January 2014. Funding was provided by a federal grant of $1 million through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, as well as funding from the Steven C. Leuthold Family Foundation and Sweet Water Trust.

“The protection of this land as forever wild ensures that the forest that has been cut will recover, and that the woods and wetlands will stay intact for future generations of wildlife and people,” said Northeast Wilderness Trust Executive Director Daryl Burtnett in a prepared statement. “We can rest assured that this wild place is protected from the threats of habitat fragmentation and loss of public access.”

Northeast Wilderness Trust, headquartered in Vermont, has conserved land in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, eastern New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The trust has been a part of the Greater Alder Stream-Piscataquis River Conservation Project since 2006, when it conserved 1,500 acres in the heart of the Alder Stream watershed. The area has become a priority for the trust’s efforts because of its “biological richness, recreational opportunities and wilderness character.”

The Alder Stream watershed is home to a diversity of wildlife, is characterized by cedar swamps and bogs, conifer and northern hardwood forest and contains what is thought to be the largest grove of wild, reproducing American chestnuts in existence, according to the press release.

The recent addition plays a crucial role in linking the conserved lands of Alder Stream Preserve and the adjacent 6,500-acre Bud Leavitt Wildlife Management Area.

Additional phases of conservation are envisioned in the future, including protection of key inholdings, adjoining parcels and various ecological hotspots providing habitat for rare and sensitive species, according to the press release.

In Maine, in addition to the Alder Stream Preserve, the trust owns and protects the 550-acre Howland Research Forest and the 265-acre Earthrest Preserve in Hiram.

For information, visit the Northeast Wilderness Trust website at newildernesstrust.org or call the trust at 802-224-1000.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.