Camden deeds 64 acres of Ragged Mountain to Coastal Mountains Land Trust
Camden has deeded approximately 64 acres of undeveloped land abutting the town-owned Ragged Mountain Recreation Area to Coastal Mountains Land Trust for the benefit of scenic and natural conservation. The acreage is to be incorporated in the land trust’s project to build a nine-mile Round the Mountain trail, beginning next spring.
The Camden Select Board voted unanimously Feb. 21 to donate the property to the land trust, following a December conversation when the board members first considered the proposal.
The land has been under town ownership for decades, acquired via tax liens. In late 2016, the Coastal Mountains Land Trust asked Camden to grant a conservation easement on the land for the nonprofit’s Round the Mountain trail project; instead, the Select Board proposed deeding the entire two parcels that comprise the 64 acres.
“They essentially, said, ‘let’s just give it to you guys,’” said Coastal Mountains Land Trust Director Ian Stewart. “We are thrilled with it, and this takes our partnership to a whole new level.”
One parcel is 27 acres in size and assessed at $23,000, the other is 33 acres and assessed at $26,500. The parcels lie between the Snow Bowl and Gillette Road, and abutters include two private landowners, the Maine Water Co.,the Town of Camden, as well as other parcels already owned by the land trust.
The deed signed by the Select Board stipulates:
The Property shall be maintained for the benefit of the general public as scenic and natural conservation land without commercial, industrial, or residential development, and shall be made reasonably available by Grantee for outdoor recreation, nature observation, scientific study, environmental education, and similar uses of benefit to the public, provided that, in the reasonable determination of the Grantee, such uses shall not substantially degrade the ecological and scenic qualities of the Property.
The Grantee shall have the right to establish reasonable rules and regulations for permitted uses of the Property in order to protect the conservation values of the Property.
2. No division or subdivision of the Property shall be permitted.
3. No industrial, residential, quarrying, or mining uses shall be permitted on the Property.
4. No structures of any kind, temporary or permanent, shall be located on the Property, except that the Grantee may locate, construct, maintain, and replace only boundary marking structures, informational or interpretive signs, structures to control unauthorized uses, public access improvement structures, structures for scientific study, structures for management of fauna and flora, and erosion control structures.
5. No surface alterations, including filling, dumping, or excavating, shall be made to the surface of the Property, except that the Grantee may alter the surface to locate, construct, maintain, and replace the structures permitted above, to control erosion, and to install, maintain, and replace trails and other improvements to facilitate public access.
6. No vegetation shall be cut or removed from the Property, except that the Grantee may cut and remove vegetation to establish and maintain the structures and surface alterations permitted above, to remove safety hazards for the uses permitted herein, to combat active fire, to reduce the threat of fire, to establish, maintain or restore wildlife habitat, and to control or prevent the spread of disease or intrusion by invasive species.
The Select Board exercised a right given it by annual town meeting vote, when residents authorized the Select Board to dispose of tax acquired property in the best interests of the town.
“The Select Board has found that the Grantee’s perpetual stewardship of the property conveyed herein, combined with abutting property of the Grantee, is in the best interests of the Town and the public,” the board agreed, in its formal release of the deed to the land trust.
Round the Mountain Project
The northeastern slopes of Ragged Mountain are home to the municipally-owned Camden Snow Bowl; its western cliffs descend toward Rockport and Route 17, and its gentler northern slopes end in Hope, on the Gillette Road where old farms nestle onto its lower hills. Ragged Mountain has been well explored for centuries, with hikers, bikers, hunters and adventurers winding on the old trails to a summit that extends views over the Gulf of Maine.
The Round the Mountain Trail is part of the land trust’s 13-year-old vision to conserve the Bald and Ragged Mountains, a 3,470-acre area in Camden, Hope, and Rockport.
Two years ago, the land trust began planning its nine-mile Round the Mountain Trail. In June 2016, the land trust and Maine Water announced a major real estate agreement by which the land trust would buy easements of 1,405 acres of Maine Water-owned land in West Rockport and Hope which protects the drinking water supply of many in the Midcoast. (Read more: Maine Water Co., Coastal Mountains Land Trust seal a deal for outdoor recreation, conservation)
The project grew to include collaborating with Camden, in particular the Camden Snow Bowl, as Nordic ski trails were extended along land on nearby private property parcels that had one-by-one been secured by Coastal Mountains Land Trust.
The Round the Mountain trail project price is estimated at $4.2 million, with trail-making costs estimated to be another $700,000, and trail stewardship at $300,000. A conservation fund for the Round the Mountain Trail land is also to be established, with $550,000.
So far, $1.7 million has been raised by the land trust, and Stewart said the nonprofit’s goal is to raise another $900,000 in cash by the end of 2017.
Coastal Mountains Land Trust has collaborated with Camden in a joint goal to expand the four-season recreational opportunities of the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area.
Stewart said the 64 acres straddles the northern edge of the mountain, and its easiest access is by an existing George’s Mountain Land Trust trail. The land is home to rare plants, including smooth sandwort, a small flower, and rocky heath, both sub-Alpine plants.
“The land is right in our focus area,” he said. “And the habitat is really important.”
Stewart said the nonprofit needed to obtain permits from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Army Corps of Engineers for the trail construction. The care of the trail would fall to a growing group of stewards associated with the land trust, he said.
Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at firstname.lastname@example.org; 207-706-6656