AUGUSTA (AP) – A $7.8 million conservation project completed Monday marks the end of the first phase of a plan to protect the Machias River in eastern Maine, the state Department of Conservation said.

The agreement protects more than 210 miles of shoreline along the river, from Third Machias Lake to Whitneyville. The project includes a conservation easement encompassing 18,443 acres and covering 1,000 feet on each side of the Machias River and six major tributaries.

Financing for the deal comes from various sources, including a $2 million grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, $2.8 million from the Land for Maine’s Future Board, $2 million from the Nature Conservancy and $400,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Atlantic Salmon Initiative.

Conservation Commissioner Patrick McGowan said the agreement provides for sustainable forestry, continued public access to the backcountry and preservation of wildlife habitat.

Phase two of the project, scheduled to begin next year, involves the outright purchase of the river corridor from Third Machias Lake to Fifth Machias Lake.

AP-ES-12-22-03 1841EST

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