The Center is working in Bethel, Rumford, South Paris and Norway, Maine—communities ranging in population from 2,200 to 5,800 residents each—to build new opportunities in the forest economy and enhance community well-being. Our projects have included:
- Advancing high-speed internet expansion: Secured a $78,000 grant from the Connect ME Authority, to support broadband expansion across 27 communities in western Maine.
- Helping establish a new Community Forest: Worked with residents for two years to identify recreational uses for the forest, set management priorities and develop a stewardship plan for the new 978-acre Community Forest, which supports destination development and outdoor recreation opportunities for residents.
- Investing in wood products: Provided technical assistance to wood product manufacturers and partnered with companies related to wood pellet heat to create quality jobs, source local wood and retain dollars in the community.
- Providing regional coordination: Convened and facilitated Maine West, a collaborative composed of diverse non-profit partners implementing projects to secure economic, education, health and conservation benefits.
Maine West is focused on several aspects of overall community well-being. The collaborative launched the Second Nature Adventure Challenge to introduce residents to the outdoors and promote health, quality of life, and exercise; implemented a state-sponsored broadband planning process to thoughtfully expand coverage in the region; and convened multiple school district administrators to explore opportunities to strengthen links between schools, businesses, and communities, with the goal of helping students aspire to education excellence.
The work of the Maine West collaborative is strengthened by robust community engagement across the various projects and long-term support by the Betterment Fund.