When a community owns forestland, it can earn income from timber harvests, support the local outdoor recreation economy, guarantee space for educational opportunities, and permanently conserve scenic views and wildlife habitat through conservation easements. Pioneering projects have shown that Community Forests are an excellent strategy for economic and community development, delivering both social and economic benefits.

The Center helps communities acquire and prepare to steward their locally owned forests. We can assist in many ways, from early exploration and feasibility studies all the way through acquisition and forest management planning. Throughout these multi-year projects, we help communities develop the capacity and skills they need to effectively own and manage the forestland they love.

The Milan Community Forest Committee is fortunate to have members well versed in forestry and land ownership issues, but our effort to create and expand the Milan Community Forest would not be nearly as far along without the Center’s assistance. Just as important as the Center’s technical expertise is the staff’s optimism and enthusiasm in supporting a wide diversity of projects critical to the region.

—Michael Galuszka, Milan Community Forest committee

The Center and partners such as the Trust for Public Land have worked to create 15 new community forests that have permanently conserved 30,000 acres of working forests.

Assistance for Communities

Recognizing that each community and each project is unique, Center staff can provide a variety of technical support and assistance, such as:

  • Educational presentations to community officials or groups
  • Assessing project locations and viability
  • Identifying resources needed for acquisition and management
  • Facilitating New Markets Tax Credit financings to enable an acquisition to occur
  • Engaging residents in supporting and managing the project
  • Guiding creation of Community Forest governing bodies
  • Help in securing grants and resources to purchase forestland
  • Coordinating assistance from natural resource professionals
  • Planning for long-term forest stewardship

In partnership with other organizational partners we can also assist with property acquisition and large-scale fundraising.

Community Forest Successes


From Downeast Maine to northern Vermont, the Center has helped communities take ownership of local forests to generate income from timber, conserve water quality and wildlife habitat, and protect favorite places for hiking, fishing, snowmobiling and outdoor education.

See how Community Forests that the Center has helped establish are enhancing forest stewardship and generating valuable economic and community benefits:

  • 13 Mile Woods Community Forest, Errol, NH
    The Town of Errol now owns 7,108-acres of conserved forestland that boosts the local economy and supports quality jobs based on a healthy working forest.
  • Canaan Community Forest, Canaan, VT
    Canaan Vermont established its 424-acre Community Forest to keep the land undeveloped for a variety of uses, including sustainable timber harvesting and a special emphasis on outdoor education.
  • Cooley-Jericho Community Forest, Easton, Sugar Hill, Franconia and Landaff, NH
    Four communities share the benefits and stewardship of owning the 843-acre Cooley-Jericho Community Forest.
  • Machias River Community Forest, Machias, ME
    The 925-acre Machias River Community Forest conserves important wildlife areas and recreation areas and reconnects the community to the river.
  • Perley Mills Community Forest, Denmark and Bridgton, ME
    The 1,666-acre Perley Mills Community Forest provides permanent public access for recreation, safeguards water supplies and will provide income from timber harvests.
  • Bingham Community Forest, Bethel, ME
    The 2,411-acre Bingham Community Forest is managed for water quality protection, wildlife habitat protection, public recreation, and sustainable timber management.

Projects Underway

The Center is helping several communities plan for and create Community Forests to meet a wide range of community and economic development needs. Ongoing projects include:


  • West Grand Lake Community Forest, Grand Lake Stream, ME
    This 22,000-acre project will be added to an existing Community Forest to help secure the region's outdoor recreation-based economy and culture.
  • Milan Community Forest
    Residents in Milan are creating a new 1,803-acre Community Forest to support the local economy and conserve the natural landscape their economy depends upon.
  • Twin Bridges Community Forest, Otisfield, ME
    The 252-acre Twin Bridges Community Forest is part of a larger conservation project in the Crooked River watershed of southwestern Maine. Once the property is conserved, the new Community Forest will protect a variety of public recreational benefits in an area that is important for local hiking, fishing, and kayaking.

The Community Forest Model


The Community Forest model promotes conservation and community and economic development through community ownership and management of land. Community Forests share four key elements:

  • Community Forests are owned and managed by a municipal entity or by a community based non-profit on behalf of a community.
  • The acquisition process and management structure ensures community participation in and responsibility for management decisions.
  • The community has secure access to the value and benefits of the forest, both monetary and non-monetary, that can support and reinforce community priorities and economic development objectives.
  • The conservation values of the forestland are permanently protected and management of the forest is based on sustainable forest management practices.

Research & Reports

The Center has helped develop several resources that can help communities interested in creating Community Forests.