On December 19, Coastal Mountains Land Trust completed a bargain sale purchase of a historic conservation easement protecting 500-acres of land surrounding Grassy Pond, owned by the Maine Water Company, in Rockport and Hope. The easement permanently protects the entire shorefront of Grassy Pond, which serves as secondary drinking water supply for six towns, as well as the flanks of Spruce Mountain and a section of the Georges Highland Path.
The conservation easement also guarantees that the land, which will continue to be owned and managed for water quality by the Maine Water Company, will be available for broad public access via the Georges Highland Path and additional future trails and boat access points maintained by Coastal Mountains Land Trust.
Leadership support for the acquisition of this easement was provided by the State of Maine’s bond-funded Land for Maine’s Future program and Maine Coast Heritage Trust. During the 2018 Land for Maine’s Future funding round, the Grassy Pond and Mirror Lake Conservation Easements received the LMF board’s highest overall score statewide.
As a result, the Land Trust was selected to receive a grant of $500,000 in LMF funds. Those funds were released last week to facilitate the purchase of the Grassy Pond easement. Maine Coast Heritage Trust also served as a lead partner for this project and has provided campaign planning, fundraising, and grant-writing support that has been critical to the success of this effort since 2016.
Coastal Mountains Land Trust’s partnership with the Maine Water Company dates back to 2003, when the Land Trust first began to plan for the conservation of Bald and Ragged mountains.
Since those initial discussions began, Maine Water Company has served as a key partner in helping to navigate multiple regulatory hurdles for the long-term protection and stewardship of the watershed lands surrounding Grassy Pond and Mirror Lake.
Faced with the option of selling off land that was no longer strictly required to meet water quality standards because of changing EPA regulations and a new filtration system, Maine Water Company instead committed to working with the Land Trust to ensure the permanent conservation of the watershed land so important to water quality, according to a news release from the land trust.
The signing of the Grassy Pond easement completes the long-term vision set into action by a formal letter of intent signed between the two organizations in 2014. Maine Water Company’s generous donations to the Round the Mountain Collaboration through a cash gift for stewardship of the easements and a bargain sale for the Grassy Pond Conservation Easement were a key part of the campaign’s overall success.
Just as with the Mirror Lake Conservation Easement project, half of the net proceeds from the sale of the Grassy Pond Conservation Easement will be returned as a rebate to their mid-coast area customers in the form of a credit on their water bills. The other half of the net proceeds will be reinvested in infrastructure improvements and upgrades within the Mirror Lake water system.
Sixteen years ago, Coastal Mountains Land Trust adopted vision of conserving a 3,500-acre area around Bald and Ragged Mountain in Camden, Hope, and Rockport. With this project, the Land Trust has successfully fulfilled more that 90% of that goal. The completion of the Grassy Pond easement brings the total area of land conserved by the Round the Mountain Collaboration to more than 1,500 acres.
This total includes the 786-acre Mirror Lake Conservation Easement finished in 2018 and five additional land purchases that were needed for the Round the Mountain Trail.
Since the campaign’s public launch in 2016, this unique collaboration with conservation organizations, the water company, and local recreation groups has raised nearly $5 million dollars for the protection of the community water supply, open space, and recreational trail investments. The recent progress, made through the Round the Mountain Collaboration, has been made possible by the generous cooperation of landowners and ongoing support of community members, foundations and government agencies.
Coastal Mountains Land Trust was established in 1986 to permanently protect natural areas in the communities of the western Penobscot Bay region. The Round the Mountain Collaboration is an opportunity to fulfill that mission by conserving one of the largest and most important remaining undeveloped landscapes in coastal Maine. When this project is complete, the Land Trust will have conserved over 12,000 acres of land for the benefit of our local communities. For more information, please visit www.coastalmountains.org