BANGOR (AP) – A conservation group said Friday it is purchasing an easement that will serve as a buffer for the Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge about 15 minutes from Bangor.

The Nature Conservancy’s 12,710-acre easement joins two conservation areas to create a 32,000-acre block of protected forests and wetlands.

The Sunkhaze-Bradley Corridor, connects Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Milford to the Maine Department of Conservation’s Bradley Unit.

“This easement ensures that land next to Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge will not be swallowed by an advancing front of subdivisions,” said Michael Tetreault, The Nature Conservancy’s executive director in Maine.

The easement will help protect streams that provide clean water to nationally significant wetlands of Sunkhaze Meadows and to the lower Penobscot River.

It will be managed as a natural area and accessible for recreational use. The property is owned by GMO LLC, a Boston-based investment company.

Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge was founded in the late 1980 when more than 10,000 acres of wetlands were acquired to protect them from peat mining, according to the refuge’s Tom Comish.

The $3.1 million cost of the new easement was being raised from private donations and will match state and federal grants.