Bethel, ME - 978 acres
The Northern Forest Center and the Trust for Public Land teamed up to help Mahoosuc Pathways, a nonprofit trails organization, and residents of Bethel, Maine, create a new 978-acre Community Forest in June 2019.
The location of the Bethel Community Forest offers recreational access from the village center and to the existing trail network on the lands of Sunday River Ski area. The Community Forest helps connect a 3,500-acre tapestry of conserved lands between the neighboring Bingham Forest and Sunday River.
Mahoosuc Pathways now owns a 978-acre Community Forest that is fully protected by a conservation easement. The Community Forest will be home to recreational trails, wildlife habitat, and provide a setting for educational programs. Mahoosuc Pathways hopes to facilitate sustainable timber harvests to help offset trail maintenance and stewardship costs.
“We have wanted to realize the community held vision of connecting Bethel village to Sunday River Resort with a year-round multi-use trail system," said Gabe Perkins, executive director of Mahoosuc Pathways. "The partnership with The Trust for Public Land, the Northern Forest Center, and the landowner — coupled with the inspiring community planning process —shows that we’re ready to deliver on our goal while being good stewards of the Bethel Community Forest.”
Center staff helped guide Mahoosuc Pathways and the Town of Bethel as they prepared to own and manage the Community Forest. For two years, the Center facilitated and assisted the Bethel Community Forest Planning Committee in natural resource inventories, easement negotiations, and stewardship planning.
Mahoosuc Pathways was motivated to collaborate with the town to protect the the forested area when it was threatened by proposals that included an asphalt plant and large subdivisions.