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Northeast Wilderness Trust partners with Frenchman Bay Conservancy on Whalesback forever-wild easements

AURORA, ME—Frenchman Bay Conservancy (FBC) has closed on the purchase of two forever-wild conservation easements in Aurora, Maine, referred to as Whalesback, protecting 3,223 acres. Forever-wild is the highest available conservation protection for land in the United States. 

The Whalesback easements protect an extensive habitat block that includes a portion of the Union River’s headwaters, and provides exceptional wildlife habitat for inland waterfowl, wading birds, brook trout, endangered Atlantic salmon, and many other wide-ranging species. The Whalesback project is part of FBC’s mission to conserve large, undeveloped landscapes along the Union River and its major tributaries. 

Northeast Wilderness Trust (NEWT), a regional land trust with a focus on wilderness conservation, helped make the Whalesback conservation project possible through a financial contribution as part of its Wildlands Partnership initiative. Northeast Wilderness Trust will co-hold the forever-wild conservation easements.

The individual landowners of the protected properties will enroll Whalesback in NEWT’s Wildlands Carbon program. Wildlands Carbon generates revenue from the sale of carbon offset credits from lands recently protected as forever-wild. The carbon credits are sold on the voluntary market.

“Wildlands Partnership is about expanding forever-wild protection across the Northeast through partnership with conservation organizations,” Caitlin Mather, Land Protection Manager, said.  “We are thrilled to partner with Frenchman Bay Conservancy to protect the biologically rich Whalesback properties and are grateful to the landowners who saw the need to conserve their lands as wild.”

Carbon credits promise buyers that a property is sequestering and storing carbon that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

“Whalesback is a biodiversity hotspot that is large enough, and close enough to other large conserved properties, such as the nearby Amherst Mountain Community Forest, that the property will act as a core refuge for species moving across the landscape in response to climate change,” says Aaron Dority, FBC’s Executive Director. “By protecting uninterrupted landscapes, we’re creating wildlife corridors that protect Maine’s iconic species and the ecosystems that build Hancock County’s resilience to climate change.”

Frenchman Bay Conservancy does not have plans to build trails on the property, but the land will remain open to public access for hunting and fishing, primarily by the State-owned boat launch on Route 9 along the Middle Branch of the Union River.

Financial partners include NEWT, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) Program, Ram Island Conservation Fund of Maine Community Foundation, and The Anahata Foundation. This project was funded in part by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund (MOHF), in which proceeds from the sale of a dedicated instant lottery ticket (currently Money Comb) are used to support outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation. For more information about MOHF, go to

For questions or further information, please contact FBC Executive Director Aaron Dority at; (207) 422-2328.

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 69,000 acres of wildlands across six states.

About Frenchman Bay Conservancy: A nonprofit land trust in Hancock, ME, Frenchman Bay Conservancy conserves distinctive ecosystems, lands, and waters for the benefit of all, from the Union River and Frenchman Bay watersheds east to the Hancock County line. Since 1987, FBC has conserved 11,000 acres in Hancock County. 

Photography: Ellerie Ezekiel