Denmark New Owner of Community Forest
On April 10th the Town of Denmark accepted a deed to 1,488 acres of land on Hancock Pond Road granted by Loon Echo Land Trust. Loon Echo reserved a perpetual conservation easement to ensure the property remains undeveloped and available to the public for a variety of recreational uses including hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, skiing, boating, swimming, hunting, fishing, trapping and snowmobiling and ATV’ing.
“The Town of Denmark is very pleased to partner with Loon Echo Land Trust in securing over 1,400 acres of conservation land for public use. The benefits to the public in recreational activities, including hunting and fishing, as well as natural resource protection, will be a long-term asset for our residents. We believe that this project, with assistance from the Town of Bridgton, will benefit residents of both communities for generations to come,” said Denmark Town Manager Daniel J. Merhalski.
The property is a part of a larger 1,600 acre regional community forest project spanning Bridgton, Denmark and Sebago called the Perley Mills Community Forest that includes three miles of the Narrow Gauge multi-use trail, Pickerel Pond and Willett Pond. In January the Town of Sebago accepted the deed to the adjacent property located directly to the south on Swamp Road.
The Perley Mills Community Forest project began in 2012. Since then Loon Echo, with support from the towns and other organizations, raised $1.4 million from contributions made by 150 local residents and businesses, an anonymous foundation, Open Space Institute, Portland Water District, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Allagash Brewing Company, North American Wetland Conservation Act, Kendal C. and Anna Ham Charitable Foundation, Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Davis Conservation Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation, Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, Town of Bridgton, Town of Denmark, and Town of Sebago.
The community forest model ensures community participation in setting management goals, and gives secure access to the value and benefits of the forest, such as public use of the land and trails and a long-term source of revenue from selective timber harvests. Denmark officials are in the process of developing a community forest ordinance to help manage the decision making process and setting of management goals.