A tributary of the Crooked River located on the newly expanded Crooked River Forest at Intervale in Harrison.

BETHEL — Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT)   announces an expansion of their Crooked River Forest at Intervale with the purchase of 38 acres of forested land in Harrison. The acquisition brings the total acreage of the conserved forest there to 334.

The Crooked River Forest at Intervale allows public access for hiking, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling (on designated trails), skiing and mountain biking. Preventing future development along the Crooked River through forestland conservation will ensure public access for recreation on the river and its surrounding forests.

In addition to protecting important wildlife habitat and providing recreation opportunities, the land purchase is a help for clean water in southern Maine. The Crooked River is the largest tributary into Sebago Lake, Maine’s second largest lake and the primary source of clean drinking water for 200,000 people — one-sixth of all Mainers — who live or work in 11 communities in the Portland area. Protecting forestland along the Crooked River has been an important collaborative goal between Portland Water District and Loon Echo Land Trust for many years.

With the forest acting as a natural filter for water, permanently protecting forested areas around the river is vital to maintaining the high water quality of the Crooked River and Sebago Lake. The Crooked River and larger Sebago Lake watersheds have been identified as a priority for forestland conservation.

Land conservation in the Sebago Lake watershed is the focus of Sebago Clean Waters, a collaborative initiative formed in 2017. Sebago Clean Waters aims to conserve another 35,000 acres in the Sebago Lake watershed in the next 15 years in order in order to protect water quality, community well being, a vibrant economy and the health of fish and wildlife.

To learn more about Loon Echo Land Trust, visit www.lelt.org or call 207-647-4352. To learn more about Sebago Clean Waters, visit www.sebagocleanwaters.org.

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