7 Lakes Alliance Acquires 119-acre Blaisdell Property Near Great Pond a Key Connector Between Mt. Phillip and The Mountain
Ensures Diverse Benefits for People, Waters, and Wildlife
7 Lakes Alliance integrates land and water protection to ensure healthy communities, including people and wildlife, in the Belgrade Lakes watershed. 7 Lakes continues a decades-long tradition of non-profit, citizen-based land conservation and partnerships, helping to conserve and steward over 9,400 acres of land throughout the Belgrade Lakes region. Our land conservation strategy includes habitat conservation, water quality protection, and public access for recreation, education and science, and health, and support for the natural resource economy. The watershed, approximately 180 square miles located within 45 minutes of the state capitol, Augusta, interspersed with lakes carved by glaciers, the area is under intense development pressure.
7 Lakes Alliance’s newly completed land conservation project builds on a local family’s commitment to land stewardship and creates a lasting legacy for the future. Blaisdell family members were early settlers in Rome, Maine dating back at least to the 1780s. The Mountain property, bought in 1998 by the Belgrade Lakes Association and now owned by 7 Lakes, is identified as Blaisdells Hill on the 1856 map of Kennebec County.
In early 2018, Stanley Blaisdell’s grandchildren approached 7 Lakes with an opportunity to purchase 119 acres close to the northwestern shore of Great Pond. Stanley, who passed away in 2012, appreciated and supported local conservation efforts. The family’s desire to honor their grandfather’s legacy gave 7 Lakes an exciting once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to permanently conserve this ecologically, historically and recreationally significant parcel.
The property is especially important because it helps complete a corridor between two notable existing conservation lands – Mt. Phillip and The Mountain trail system. Mt. Phillip, purchased from the Blaisdell family in 2004 by BRCA and Pine Island Camps, and The Mountain are both now owned by 7 Lakes Alliance. Accessible by a paved town road, the recently acquired connecting property was especially vulnerable to development.
To ensure the future of this key property for the community, 7 Lakes applied for and received a conservation loan from the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, enabling 7 Lakes to purchase the property immediately. Repayment of this loan must be completed by April, 2020. Our successful repayment will demonstrate our community’s commitment to thoughtful land conservation and increase access to direct investment and bridge loan funding for future projects. Blaisdell Conservation Project costs, including purchase price and closing fees, as well as funds to properly steward the land according to Land Trust Alliance best practices guidelines, total $145,000. 7 Lakes seeks to raise full funding for this project and our comprehensive land conservation and stewardship programs from a diversity of sources and partnership efforts. Both sustainable annual membership giving and capital investment are needed to ensure 7 Lakes has the expertise and resources needed to thoughtfully advance land conservation and stewardship throughout the Belgrade Lakes watershed and be available to work with conservation minded landowners committed to preserving and protecting our extraordinary region.
Click below or contact us at 495-6039 or 931-7710 to learn more about how your gift can make a lasting difference and to donate to this important initiative. Check back here for funding news!
WATER QUALITY: The Blaisdell property provides an excellent opportunity to protect water quality in Great Pond, an 8,500-acre lake with significant economic, recreational and ecological value to central Maine with over 650 seasonal and year-round homes, and two commercial camps. The Blaisdell property is level at the top of the hill near the road then slopes steeply to Great Pond to the east. Most of the property (110 acres) is forested. Conserving the property helps protect the lake from the potentially negative impacts of clearing or development.
WILDLIFE HABITAT: The Blaisdell property provides excellent wildlife habitat, including deer wintering habitat. The property is part of an 863-acre relatively undeveloped habitat block and is connected to several other large undeveloped habitat blocks. Songbirds abound. Four intermittent streams at the base of the hill drain to significant wetland and riparian habitats adjacent to Great Pond.
RECREATIONAL TRAIL CORRIDOR: The property helps connect recreational trails in the corridor between two 7 Lakes-owned properties – The Mountain and Mount Phillip. This Blaisdell property is a significant unprotected portion of this linkage. 7 Lakes envisions someday connecting these trails to the Kennebec Highlands.
VIEWSHED: Overlooking Great Pond, the property makes possible beautiful views of the lake. The property is visible from Great Pond and from other protected conservation properties, such as Mount Phillip. From the water or ice, people sailing or boating, skiing, snowshoeing or simply gazing out from their favorite places now enjoy a beautiful, relatively undisturbed view of the mountainside, much as it has existed for generations. The west side of Hoyt’s Island directly faces the property.
COMMUNITY AND ECONOMY: 7 Lakes will ensure public access to the property for uses including recreation, education, and science. Many in the community already hike, walk, birdwatch, hunt and otherwise enjoy this special land. 7 Lakes will maintain public access and create educational opportunities for area schools and colleges, and stewardship days, hikes and interpretive field trips. Providing access for low impact outdoor recreation such as hiking, biking and skiing supports community health goals.
ECONOMY: Activities and conservation values supported by the Blaisdell land acquisition such as biking, hiking, hunting and snowmobiling, help support the local tourism economy. Water quality protection supports property values by helping prevent algal blooms that can result from the accumulated impacts of erosion from land into our lakes.