“By preserving nearly 1,000 acres within the town, this Community Forest will not only benefit current residents and visitors to the area—it will invest in Bethel’s future.”
Bethel, ME — U.S. Senator Susan Collins delivered remarks yesterday at the Bethel Community Forest Celebration, hosted by the Trust for Public Land, Northern Forest Center, and Mashoosuc Pathways. The event was a celebration of the opening of the Bethel Community Forest and the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which Senator Collins championed.
“Bethel has long been a destination for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its pristine environment and countless recreation opportunities. By preserving nearly 1,000 acres within the town, this Community Forest will not only benefit current residents and visitors to the area—it will invest in Bethel’s future. This land will expand the vast network of hiking, skiing, and biking trails while allowing the forest products industry to continue the sustainable harvest of timber. ” said Senator Collins. “Your hard work and dedication turned the vision of this new Community Forest into a reality. I want to congratulate the entire Bethel community on this exciting project that will help preserve Western Maine’s stunning beauty for the enjoyment of all and support the region’s economy for many years to come.”
The Trust for Public Land, the Bethel-based trail organization Mahoosuc Pathways, and the Northern Forest Center in New Hampshire achieved a five-year goal of creating the 3,500-acre conservation area by purchasing the 978 acres that is now the Bethel Community Forest. The land is intended to be used to create a network of trails and be dedicated to outdoor recreation. The land will also continue to be used for the sustainable harvest of timber.
The money raised for the acquisition included a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service from the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program, which Senators Collins and Angus King (I-ME) supported in a joint letter in August 2018. The Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program is based on Senator Collins’ Suburban and Community Forestry and Open Space bill that was included in the 2008 Farm Bill.
The LWCF was established by Congress in 1965 to ensure access to outdoor recreation spaces for present and future generations and to provide money to federal agencies and state and local governments to acquire land, water, and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. The LWCF has supported more than 42,000 state and local projects in communities across the country. Earlier this year, legislation to permanently authorize LWCF was enacted with Senator Collins’ strong support.