Maine’s Newest Wilderness Area Protects 3,415 Acres near Rangeley
For immediate release: March 31, 2021
Redington, ME – Northeast Wilderness Trust purchased 3,415 acres of Mt. Redington’s western slopes this week as the Redington Wilderness Sanctuary. The Wilderness Trust is a non-profit that protects wild landscapes across New England and the Adirondacks. As permanent wilderness, the Sanctuary will never be logged, and eventually will become an old-growth forest. Northeast Wilderness Trust will donate a forever-wild easement to Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust (MATLT), further safeguarding the land’s wild state.
“Rewilding landscapes are places where nature calls the shots,” said Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director of the Wilderness Trust. “When large landscapes are allowed to heal, they provide unparalleled benefits for wildlife, carbon sequestration, and the human spirit. Only about three percent of New England is conserved as wilderness, so there is an urgent need for more wildlands. Rewilding places like Redington is one of the best natural climate solutions available.”
Wildlife Sanctuaries Essential to “30 by 30” Goals
30 by 30 is a global initiative that calls for 30 percent of Earth’s lands and waters to be conserved by 2030. President Biden committed the United States to these goals in January, 2021. The primary goal of the initiative is to protect biodiversity and intact ecosystems. Conserving land as wilderness is imperative to meet these goals and to stem the tides of extinction and climate change. As a newly protected wild place, Redington Wilderness Sanctuary represents progress towards 30 by 30. The Sanctuary has exceptionally rich and diverse habitat, and the Wilderness Trust’s purpose is to preserve this land for wildlife and to allow natural processes to unfold.
Redington Wilderness Sanctuary lies just next to the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). “The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust is pleased to help the Wilderness Trust add further protection to this stretch of the A.T. in Maine’s High Peaks,” said Simon Rucker, Executive Director of MATLT. “Redington is one of the most visible areas from the Trail between Saddleback Mountain and the Crockers and this will ensure that the remote, scenic aspect remains intact for future generations of outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking out the wildest parts of this landscape.”
The Sanctuary is considered critical habitat for the Federally threatened Canada lynx. Other wide-ranging mammals such as American marten, coyote, black bear, and moose use the land. It also provides habitat for many bird species including the endangered Bicknell’s Thrush. The majority of the forest is Fir-Heart-leaved Birch Subalpine Forest, a rare habitat in Maine. The headwaters of Nash Stream, West Branch Nash Stream, Stony Brook, and Orbeton Brook all begin on the Sanctuary. Beyond its boundaries, Orbeton Brook’s main stem is considered critical habitat for endangered Atlantic salmon.
The Sanctuary is located within the Northern Appalachian/Acadian Forest Ecoregion—the largest and most intact temperate forest in North America. Maintaining connected mountainous forests is among the most widely cited strategies for ecosystem resilience in the face of climate change. Redington Wilderness Sanctuary is considered highly resilient and connected according to The Nature Conservancy’s Resilient Land Mapping Tool, meaning it has a high capacity to maintain species diversity and ecological functions even as the climate changes. Preserving land in this category moves towards 30% of U.S. lands and waters being protected. The land’s value is not merely in its acreage, however, but also in its quality for wildlife.
“Protecting land as forever-wild gives nature the freedom to adapt and evolve under their own influence,” said Mark Anderson, Board President of Northeast Wilderness Trust and the Eastern U.S. Director of Science at The Nature Conservancy. “Redington happens to be a highly resilient and connected landscape, so its preservation is also one of the most effective ways to mitigate climate change.”
The conservation of Redington also launches the country’s first multi-state project on the voluntary carbon market consisting entirely of forever-wild forests. This is the Wilderness Trust’s first project in its Wild Carbon™ program and includes four Wilderness Trust Preserves. The project will be managed by Bluesource LLC, an award-winning carbon offset project developer and retailer.
“Buyers of Wild Carbon credits through this program will know that not a single tree will ever be commercially harvested on these forests,” said Leibowitz. “We believe this makes our Wild Carbon program rather unique in the carbon market—both for the entities buying the credits and the public’s faith in the value of these credits. Further, all revenue earned through this program will go towards the long-term care of these wild places and towards conserving wild and resilient landscapes in the future.”
Bluesource will bundle Redington Wilderness Sanctuary with the Bramhall Wilderness Preserve in Vermont and Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve and parcels in the Split Rock Wildway of the Champlain Valley of New York. The 40-year project will generate Wild Carbon credits through the American Carbon Registry on 5,800 total acres. These credits will become available in 2022 on the voluntary market, with options for buyers to pre-purchase credits in advance. Northeast Wilderness Trust and Bluesource are working together to ensure that Wild Carbon credits are sold to entities that meet the Wilderness Trust’s buyer policy criteria.
“We are proud that every property enrolled in our carbon project will support old-growth forests in the future. This is a win for biodiversity and for long-term carbon storage,” says Sophie Ehrhardt, the Wildlands Partnership Coordinator for the Wilderness Trust. “We are pleased to bring to market high-quality offset credits for organizations and businesses with serious sustainability goals.”
Redington Wilderness Sanctuary was made possible thanks to generous support from Sweet Water Trust, the Wild East Action Fund of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land, the Bafflin Foundation, and Common Stream along with other foundations and many individual donors.
About the Northeast Wilderness Trust: Founded in 2002, the Northeast Wilderness Trust conserves forever-wild landscapes for nature and people across New England and the Adirondacks. The Wilderness Trust owns Wilderness Preserves and Sanctuaries, and also protects land through legal means such as conservation easements. It is the only organization in the Northeast focused exclusively on forever-wild conservation and currently safeguards more than 41,000 acres of wildlands across six states.
Photography: Redington Wilderness Sanctuary, Harry White