(Left to Right) Roger Greene and Chris Johnson accept the 2023 Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award for Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust from Department of Agriculture Conservation & Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal and Maine Tree Farm Program Chair Jesse Duplin (photo credit: Jim Britt/Maine DACF).

The Maine Tree Farm Committee is very pleased to announce that the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust, of Orland and Bucksport, is the 2023 Maine Outstanding Tree Farmer! The award was presented at the Agricultural Trades Show on January 11 by Amanda Beal, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and by Patty Cormier, the Director of the Maine Forest Service.

The Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust is a land trust founded in 1993 to conserve land, water, and wildlife habitat for the communities of northwestern Hancock County. Their goal is to protect:

  • Wildlife habitat and biodiversity
  • Rural character and scenic beauty
  • Working forests and farms
  • Opportunities for outdoor recreation and education

The vision of the founders was to conserve the large, undeveloped area on and around Orland’s Great Pond Mountain, called the Wildlands. After an initial acquisition of 4200+ acres in 2005, the Wildlands has since grown to over 5000 acres. The original 4200 acres, which had been treated harshly by the previous owner, is now a textbook example of restoration forestry.

Roger Greene, a Maine forester and the Forest Science and Management Consultant to the Trust, puts it this way. “Though it’s an easy thing to say that it will take a long time for this forest to begin generating any level of sustainable income, it’s quite another thing to attempt to get there. The desired forest condition is a generally mature, all-aged forest with continuous cover, with balanced areas of new and advanced regeneration and a sustainable harvest rotation of perhaps 125 years.”

The landowning objectives of the Trust are:

  1. Maintain and enhance water yield quality and wildlife habitat.
  2. Provide a sustainable level of income from forest product sales to offset operating costs to the extent possible.
  3. Provide educational opportunities to schools, colleges, and the public
  4. Create and maintain access, trails, and scenic vistas for public recreation.
Woodland at Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust

The goals align perfectly with the words on the four sides of the Tree Farm Sign: “Water, Wood, Wildlife, Recreation!”

In the past 15 years, the Trust has remained steadfast in its commitment to the rehabilitation of the land, with over 1300 acres of non-commercial thinning and numerous road and stream-crossing projects completed, and more on the way. These accomplishments are the result of many volunteer efforts, donations, and a partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS funds have been crucial to these efforts, as the next income-generating harvest will likely not occur for 30 to 35 years.

While working hard to renew the productivity of their woods, the Trust has kept the land open to the public for recreation use. The Trust has sponsored numerous events, both for professionals and for the local community. In addition to numerous forest tours, the Trust has made presentations to the Bucksport Garden Club, exhibited at the Maine Science Fair, hosted a Water Quality Workshop (with the University of Maine), a Forestry for Maine Birds workshop (with Maine Audubon), a two-part Penobscot Valley Senior College session, and a Forestry 101 4-week course (with Blue Hill Heritage Trust).  The Trust also sponsors trail maintenance and chainsaw safety workshops and maintains numerous interpretive signs on forestry and other topics.

All of these efforts and events serve to educate and inform people about sustainable forest management and the Maine Tree Farm Program. The Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust is well-deserving of the title “2023 Maine Outstanding Tree Farmer!”

Maine Tree Farm sign at Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust