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Castleberry Fairs

Nearly 5,000-acre tract protected along AT


November 17, 2010
SUCCESS — The first of a far larger three-phase Mahoosuc Gateway Success project in this Unincorporated Place on Berlin's east side has been completed.

Tom and Scott Dillon sold a 4,777-acre high-elevation no-cut tract for $2,479,000 on Tuesday, Nov. 2, to the National Park Service for the National Appalachian Scenic Trail (AT), an historic national hiking path that provides public recreational access to scenic areas.

The land transfer to the federal Department of the Interior was recorded at the Cos County courthouse on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

"This acquisition will provide significant additional protection along some eight miles of the Appalachian Trail (AT) and bring into public ownership three side trails, two peaks, an expansive vista at the 'Outlook,' watershed protection, and the 'Highest Ranked' habitat — upper-elevation spruce-fir forest — listed in the state's Wildlife Action Plan," explained Nancy Bell of Shrewsbury, Vt., who is a professional land protection specialist at The Conservation Fund which facilitated the purchase.

This parcel was secured with Land and Water Conservation Funds appropriated over two years, FY09 and FY10, with the monies coming from a portion of receipts collected from offshore oil and gas leases.

The property abuts the Androscoggin Valley Regional Refuse Disposal District and the Maine state line on the east.

The three-phase Mahoosuc Gateway Success conservation project is designed to protect public access, keep intact well-managed "working" forests in appropriate areas, and conserve world-class recreation, she said.

When asked who she would like to publically thank, Ms. Bell replied, "First and foremost, the citizens of Berlin, Gorham, and Shelburne, members of the Androscoggin Valley Fish and Game Club, and camp owners who turned out to support the purchase of Phase I as well as the two large remaining tracts, Phases II and III, totaling 24,000 acres that are slated to provide sawlogs and low-grade wood for the timber industry, if the federal Forest Legacy funds, for which applications have been made, are secured," Ms. Bell said. "This project has been — and is — being driven by grass-roots support. Although the Valley has been hard hit economically in the last few years, area residents have a long-term vision and a profound understanding of the value of these forests in the future. They see well beyond these tough times. They know that there may not be a lot of immediate return, but they're looking to the future for their children and grandchildren and those who will someday move here to enjoy all the benefits that forests provide."

She also thanked Mayor Paul Grenier who was a passionate advocate for these projects in front of the Berlin City Council. "He did his homework and became an articulate spokesman; he educated himself."

A coalition was also forged that included Larry Kelly of Tri-County CAP, Steve Griffin of Isaacson Steel, and Jon Edwards and real estate interests, plus, of course, Sen. Judd Gregg, who will leave a positive legacy in Cos County, and the Cos County board of commissioners, Ms. Bell said.

"The Dillon family would like to thank The Conservation Fund for bringing all parties together in this federal land acquisition, with special thanks to Nancy Bell," said Scott Dillon in a prepared statement. "Her knowledge and leadership throughout this transaction kept everyone working diligently to complete the project in a timely fashion."

Ms. Bell, in turn, praised the patience and cooperation that the Dillon father-and-son duo demonstrated in all their dealings.

Phase I will be managed as a no-commercial-cut zone by the White Mountain National Forest.

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