Tiger Hill Community Forest protects public access, water resources, and significant wildlife habitat.
Sebago, ME – Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced the permanent protection of the newly created Tiger Hill Community Forest. The 1,429-acre forest is home to sensitive wildlife habitat, traditional working forestlands, and safeguards the water quality of Sebago Lake – the drinking water supply for over one-sixth of Maine residents.
The property has long been used by local community members for hiking, cross-country skiing, hunting, snowmobiling, and other activities. Under LELT ownership, public access for recreation will continue.
“Land conservation supports robust outdoor recreation and wood products industries, while also preserving a traditional way of life here in Maine’s Sebago Lake region,” said Matt Markot, Executive Director of Loon Echo Land Trust. “The Tiger Hill Community Forest protects wildlife habitats, secures public access for recreation, and preserves working forestland. The conservation of this land, which would not have been possible without the support of the Sebago community and the Trust for Public Land, will benefit generations of Mainers and visitors to come.”
While still largely rural, Sebago and surrounding towns have experienced more than twice the population growth rate of the state as a whole. LELT’s acquisition of the Tiger Hill Community Forest helps maintain the region’s rural character while benefiting the local tourism, outdoor recreation, and forest products industries. According to a 2019 University of Maine study, every $1 invested in forestland conservation in the Sebago region provides up to $8 in community benefits.
“This project is truly a milestone for the Sebago Lake region,” said Betsy Cook, Maine Program Director for The Trust for Public Land. “This new community forest will support the local outdoor recreation and forestry economy, protect a critical drinking water source, and provide a place for the community to connect to the outdoors and to their neighbors.”
Tiger Hill Community Forest protects hundreds of acres of critical wetland habitat and miles of frontage on the Northwest River, Sebago Lake’s second largest tributary. The project is a cornerstone of Sebago Clean Waters, a collaborative effort of nine conservation organizations, including The Trust for Public Land and Loon Echo Land Trust. In addition to protecting Sebago Lake’s water quality, the partnership seeks to support community well-being and the health of fish and wildlife in the Sebago watershed through forestland conservation.
“Tiger Hill Community Forest is a stellar example of multiple conservation organizations joining forces with the public and businesses like our local breweries to protect land that will benefit all of us,” said Karen Young, Coordinator of Sebago Clean Waters.
Beyond protecting important water resources, the acquisition increases forest connectivity, providing valuable wildlife habitat. The property is known to be home to moose, heron, bobcat and deer. Maintaining an undeveloped and connected landscapes helps increase resilience to climate change and provides critical habitat for wildlife species adapting to its effects.
TPL facilitated the acquisition of the property from generous landowners with a shared vision to create a community forest. The land is now owned by LELT and will be stewarded to meet community needs for generations to come. Support for the community forest was provided by Portland Water District, the Maine Natural Resources Conservation Program, the Open Space Institute’s Resilient Landscape Fund, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Norway Savings Bank, Allagash Brewery, and many other generous foundations and individuals.
While the land is now under LELT’s ownership, the Trust still needs to raise another $250,000 to help cover the costs of caring for the land forever. Those costs include annual tax payments to the Town of Sebago.
“It has long been LELT’s policy to pay municipal property taxes on all of our lands,” said Markot. “Thus ensuring that the benefits of land conservation do not come at the expense of town budgets.”
Donations to support the long-term stewardship of Tiger Hill Community Forest may be sent to Loon Echo Land Trust, 8 Depot Street Suite #4, Bridgton, ME 04009 or made online here.
Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) is a member supported, non-profit land trust working to protect the natural resources of the northern Sebago Lake region for future generations. Loon Echo conserves over 8,000 acres of land and manages 32 miles of hiking and biking trails in the towns of Bridgton, Casco, Denmark, Harrison, Naples, Raymond and Sebago. To support Loon Echo Land Trust and learn more about their lands, visit lelt.org.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. TPL has protected nearly 200,000 acres in Maine and has helped more than 30 towns acquire and create Community Forests. To learn more, visit tpl.org/our-work/maine.
Sebago Clean Waters (SCW) is a collaborative effort of nine conservation organizations working to protect water quality, community well-being, a vibrant economy, and fish and wildlife habitat in the Sebago region through voluntary forestland conservation. SCW’s goal is to protect 25 percent (35,000 more acres) of the Sebago Lake watershed in the next 15 years. To learn more, visit sebagocleanwaters.org.