Down East 2013 ©
Two of the three parcels involved in a complicated deal between Roxanne Quimby (through her Elliotsville Plantation corporation), the Trust for Public Land, and Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, are finally ready to change hands.
It took all afternoon on December 13, at a hastily called meeting at the Department of Conservation, for the parties to agree on revisions to the original deal. The Board of the Land for Maine’s Future program approved its part of the revised deal a day later.
I sat in on the Department of Conservation meeting, as one of several participants in a remarkable dialogue that Quimby initiated with some of her fiercest opponents in September of 2006. Over the past four years, Quimby has hosted meetings that included Bob Meyers of the Maine Snowmobile Association, Millinocket’s Town Manager Gene Conlogue, and me, representing the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. At times other participants included Representative Paul Davis and Millinocket town council members and snowmobile club officers, as well as members of Quimby’s staff. Jim Page of Sewall Company facilitated most of the meetings.
This week’s deal started in December of 2007, when Quimby gave the Trust for Public Lands a three-year option to purchase fee ownership in, and easements on, some of her lands in the Katahdin region.
At that December 10, 2007, announcement, Conlogue reported Quimby’s “commitment to the Katahdin Region to assist in the creation and protection of motorized trail corridors for recreation purposes on some of the lands that she owns.”
“Roxanne deserves a great deal of credit,” said Conlogue, “for bringing together groups with very different visions from her own and getting us all to roll up our sleeves and develop a solution that works. That spirit of collaboration allowed the Trust for Public Land to then piece together the details and secure support. This agreement not only resolves a conflict on the ground but creates a partnership in which we can work together in the future.”
Much of our work with Roxanne involved assuring a north/south snowmobile trail east of Mount Katahdin and Baxter State Park, where Quimby has accumulated about 90,000 acres. Quimby has also, over the past few years, kept her new purchases accessible and open to hunting and snowmobiling, at our request.
It took a lot longer than expected, and several steps remain before the deal is completed, but this week’s agreement and action assures that the original deal will be completed on two of the three parcels.
The deal is a significant victory for Bob Meyers and Maine snowmobilers, and for Gene Conlogue and the people of the Millinocket region.
Here’s where the deal stands today:
The state will purchase fee interest from Quimby for about 5,000 acres close to Millinocket — a parcel Quimby labels “Sandy Stream” and the state will call “Millinocket Town Forest” — for $2.1 million.
The state will purchase an easement on the “Hunt Farm” parcel for $500,000. The easement covers about 2,800 acres and conveys development rights and a snowmobile trail corridor to the state, while Quimby will remain the owner of the parcel with full timber harvesting and other rights of ownership. This parcel is east of the East Branch of the Penobscot River and north of Millinocket.
The Land for Maine’s Future program will commit money from its “access and infrastructure” fund to the deal, sweetening it by as much as $130,000.
The Trust for Public Land has played a key role in the project, from preparation of legal documents to raising of the money. The Trust’s Regional Director Wolf Tone was a key participant in the December 13 meeting that ironed out the details that will allow this sale to proceed on the two parcels.
It should be noted that the price for ownership of the Millinocket Forest is $171 per acre and $196 per acre for the Hunt Farm easement. The state paid more than $2,200 per acre to purchase the nearby land that surrounds Katahdin Lake.
The Land for Maine’s Future Fund will contribute about $1 million of the price and the federal government’s Forest Legacy Fund will pay the remainder. Wolf Tone noted at the December 13 meeting that the Trust for Public Land had worked hard for two years, in a very competitive process, to secure funding from both the Land for Maine’s Future and the Forest Legacy programs. He also acknowledged that the deal was delayed due to staff changes at the Trust.
The options on these two properties will be exercised by December 31, 2010, and the closing on both deals will be no later than January 31, 2011.
Action on the third “Three Rivers” or “Lookout Mountain” parcel, north of the “Hunt Farm” land, has been postponed due to a difference in two appraisals that resulted in a disagreement over the purchase price. An easement on that parcel, conveying development and snowmobile trail rights to the state, will remain in play, as both sides pursue a satisfactory agreement. There is a commitment by all parties to get this done. The discussion is set to resume in the first quarter of 2011 and will be a new negotiation, not an extension of the old option agreement.
Quimby has agreed to allow maintenance and use of the snowmobile trail on the “Three Rivers” while negotiations continue.