BUCKFIELD — Earlier this year, the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine participated in two notable collaborative conservation projects in western and southern Maine.
A varied group of properties known as the “Bear Paw” lands — six in Oxford County and one in Cumberland County — includes an important 173-acre parcel in Buckfield known as the Jersey Bog, according to a press release.
It has been named for Everett Towle, a former SWOAM president who had a long career with the U.S. Forest Service.
Towle was supervisor of the Inyo National Forest in California and senior forester for comprehensive planning throughout the National Forest system. He now manages his own certified Tree Farm in Buxton, the report stated.
Other notable conserved properties are located on Stone Hill in Hebron and Serenity Hill in Naples. SWOAM holds the easements on most of these properties, while the Androscoggin Land Trust will manage the Everett Towle Forest.
Both groups worked closely with the Nature Conservancy to ensure permanent protection of these lands.
An unusual working forest easement has also been completed at Camp Wawenock, a century-old girls' camp on Sebago Lake that includes the scenic outlook known as Frye’s Leap.
The camp’s 62 acres is now also a managed forest.
“The camp has always taken advantage of its woodland setting as a natural classroom,” Tom Doak, SWOAM’s executive director, said.
That status will now become permanent with the easement on the property held by SWOAM.
President Rich Merk said the SWOAM land trust wants to set an example showing that land can be used for both harvesting and recreation while improving land and conservation values.
“It’s best to manage on a sustainable basis rather than letting the land sit idle,” Merk said in the report.
SWOAM’s Board of Directors has set a goal of building a self-sustaining, responsibly managed inventory of forestland of at least 5,000 acres.
To date, it has acquired 20 properties totaling 2,809 acres and holds easements on 14 properties comprising another 3,536 acres.
The lands extend from York County north to Piscataquis County, and east to Washington County, including 12 of Maine’s 16 counties.