NORTHEAST WILDERNESS TRUST
17 STATE STREET, SUITE 302
MONTPELIER, VT 05602
info [@] newildernesstrust.org
Gazing out across the wetlands at the proposed Birch Stream Wilderness Preserve, the hope of wild nature comes into view. This future 3,500-acre Preserve encompasses remote waterways that provide both inspiration and critical wildlife habitat. Situated in a region of Maine underrepresented in wilderness conservation, Birch Stream Wilderness Preserve offers a unique chance to preserve ecologically important wetlands and expansive pine forests as forever-wild, ensuring a permanent home for the diverse denizens who call this landscape home.
In addition to Open Water-Marshes, Mossy Bog Mats, Black Spruce Bogs, and Alder Thickets, upland forests are also found here, especially in the western portion of the property. Little variation in topography—the high point is around 178 feet above sea level—means no big mountains are present on the Preserve, but that doesn’t mean this land is any less charismatic. Forever-wild conservation of Birch Stream Wilderness Preserve will allow the sprawling wetlands here to continue to provide a haven of forage and shelter for many species such as wood turtles, spotted salamanders, and river otters, as well carnivorous plants such as pitcher plants and sundew. Likewise, the upland forests will have the opportunity to grow old without timber extraction or active management, further protecting the wetlands and many waterways that wind through this special landscape.
With such vast expanses of wetlands, human access has historically been challenging, fortuitously lending to the wild character of the Preserve. In places, many large Eastern white pines peak above the canopy. Trees that don’t mind getting their feet wet are common throughout the Preserve, too, such as black spruce and tamarack, highlighting the presence of water here. Even with the great acreage of wetlands, white-tailed deer can find nearly 1,770-acres of mapped winter habitat in the forests. Areas where timber was recently logged have young forests returning—an opportunity to rewild and secure a legacy of natural abundance.
Birch Stream Wilderness Preserve is highly influenced by streams and wetland features. Along the different wetland communities of the Preserve, dwarf heath shrubs, orchids, and grasses take the reins from the towering white pines of the upland forests. Exemplary occurrences of common natural communities such as Dwarf Shrub Bogs and Grassy Shrub Marshes have been identified along these waterways. Four different streams and brooks on the property eventually flow into the Stillwater River and Penobscot River before emptying into the Penobscot Bay of the Atlantic Ocean. The Penobscot is the second largest river in Maine, stretching from northern and central Maine southward. Its watershed covers much of the state and has long been a priority for conservation and water quality improvements.
This land supports a wide diversity of wildlife, including waterfowl, coyotes, moose, black bear, beavers, white-tailed deer, inland wading birds, and much more. American Black Ducks and other species are known to seek refuge in sheltered wetlands like these; approximately 750-acres have been identified as inland waterfowl and wading bird habitat. The Preserve is also mapped as critical habitat for Atlantic salmon and documented habitat for alewife. Establishing the Birch Stream Wilderness Preserve will ensure these creatures always have a wild home.
Birch Stream Wilderness Preserve is located in a 44,646-acre intact forest block and will represent the first permanently secured forever-wild land in this conservation priority area. Today, just 3.7% of Maine is protected as forever-wild. Adjacent to the Birch Stream Wilderness Preserve, to the south, is a 9,849-acre tract owned and managed by the Penobscot Nation, primarily for wildlife. Together, these complementary properties create a diverse protected area, fostering biodiversity and providing vital habitat for countless species of flora, fauna, and fungi.
Size: Approx. 3,500-acres
Context: Represents the first GAP 1 land within an important forest block for conservation. 8 miles southwest of Northeast Wilderness Trust’s 7,000-acre Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve.
Location: Lagrange, Penobscot County, Maine
Objective: Forever-wild ecological preserve with high biodiversity.
Will you help Northeast Wilderness Trust continue its growing legacy of wilderness land protection in the Northeast?
This unique, low-elevation habitat will only prove more valuable over time as resilient forever-wild landscapes adapt to climate change. You can help by:
Northeast Wilderness Trust conserves forever-wild landscapes for nature and people.
Photography by Ryan Smith | Video by Ryan Smith/Reel Quest Films