Agreement Signed to Protect Raymond Forest

Loon Echo Land Trust is helping facilitate the Town of Raymond’s conservation goals by securing an option agreement with Hancock Land Company on 350 acres of working forestland. The land, located on Conesca Road in North Raymond, includes gently rolling woodland extending from Crescent Lake to the top of Pismire Mountain.  The agreement gives the partners the opportunity to explore the purchase of the land, which is dependent upon securing competitive grant awards and major gifts from community members.

The Raymond Conservation Commission has had their eyes on the property since developing its Open Space Plan, which was adopted in 2009. According to Chairman John Rand, “This property has many valuable assets that we mapped during our planning process including water quality and habitat protection, trail and recreation opportunities, a forest resource that can help support our economy, and a fabulous view from the top of Pismire Mountain. In sum, this is one of Raymond’s Special Places that our plan sought to protect.”

The property has been owned by Hancock Land Company dating back to 1943.  In 2007 they prepared a report showing several residential development scenarios, and later moved forward with a 14 acre subdivision on the neighboring property that also includes 57 acres of associated open space that will be maintained by the future landowner association.

Fortunately CEO Kevin Hancock knew that the Commission had an interest in the abutting 350 acre property. The Commission closely followed the subdivision proposal and approached Hancock about alternative land conservation options.

After a prolonged slow housing market, Hancock approached Loon Echo to initiate a partnership between the company, land trust and town. In May of 2013 a detailed proposal was presented to the Raymond Board of Selectmen. The Board provided a vote of support for Loon Echo to enter into the agreement with Hancock to essentially buy time and the option to purchase the land. They were grateful to Hancock for agreeing to such generous terms and to Loon Echo for its efforts. The Board viewed the project as an opportunity that they could not pass up.

The goal is to have the Town own and manage the property as a community forest for recreational, water quality and forest management uses. Loon Echo would hold a conservation easement, and local volunteers would help maintain the land according to goals identified in a management plan.

On the Town of Raymond’s website (www.raymondmaine.org) there is an on-line survey for local residents to take.  Opinions will help gage the interest in this project and shape the public uses such as hunting, hiking, cross country skiing and motorized use.

The partners will know in late 2014 if adequate funds have been raised allowing for the land protection project to advance.

If you are interested in making an early pledge of support to help protect this property, please contact Carrie Walia at Loon Echo at (207) 647-4352 or info@lelt.org.