The Portland Water District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a contribution of $268,899 to support the conservation of 791 acres of land in the Sebago Lake watershed. The pledge marks the biggest grant made under PWD’s Watershed Land Conservation Policy which was revised in 2013 to allow for larger contributions. This contribution represents 18 percent of the fair market value of the five parcels featuring 3.5 miles of Crooked River frontage located in Harrison and Otisfield.
The Crooked River Watershed Forest project is a collaboration between two land trusts to acquire 791 acres for the purpose of conservation. Loon Echo and Western Foothills Land Trusts expect to purchase two parcels, at which time the other three parcels will be donated by the landowner, CLT Company. If the acquisition is successful, it will create new public recreational access for hunting, trapping, fishing, hiking, canoeing, equestrian use and snowmobiling.
Because the Sebago Lake watershed is mostly made up of private property, the Portland Water District works with landowners and land trusts to keep land forested through conservation easements. Forested land around a lake provides a natural filter, keeping soil from eroding and removing contaminants before the water reaches the lake. This is a way of protecting the water supply which is far less expensive than owning the land outright.