COOPER — A Boston foundation has purchased a 721-acre undeveloped peninsula on Cathance Lake for $526,000. A spokesman for the Bailey Wildlife Foundation promised Thursday that the area would continue to be open to traditional hiking and fishing activities.
The foundation provided $425,000, the bulk of the funds needed for the acquisition, while the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation provided a $75,000 challenge grant. The Nature Conservancy contributed $76,000.
Cathance Lake is about 13 miles north of Machias. The peninsula, with 6 1/2 miles of undeveloped shoreline, is a major feature of the lake.
The Bailey Wildlife Foundation has given The Nature Conservancy a conservation easement on the property that will guarantee it will remain in its natural state. The foundation and the conservancy will work in partnership to protect the shoreline, wetlands and forest habitats. The foundation expects the property to remain on the Cooper tax rolls.
The densely forested site was purchased in 1930 by Moses Pike of Lubec on behalf of the Pike-Horatio Alden families. The families maintained the property site in its natural state.
The tradition of conservation passed with the land to 11 heirs from Maine to Thailand. The families concluded that as their families grew and the shares were subdivided further, the challenge of maintaining the land would be complicated. So 10 years ago they began a dialogue with The Nature Conservancy that led to the Bailey Wildlife Foundation’s purchase of the land.
“We will continue the nearly 70-year tradition of private stewardship on this spectacular peninsula,” said H. Whitney Bailey, a trustee of the Boston, Mass.-based foundation. “Our neighbors in Cooper and in Township 14 can look forward to bringing their great-grandchildren to fish and hike here.”
Today, the Pike family continues to visit the area. Moses Pike’s daughter, Mary Collegeman, travels to Cathance Lake every summer from her home in Washington state. Her father purchased the land just months before she was born.
“Excellent,” was how Calvin Preston, supervisor for the Washington County unorganized territories, reacted to the announcement Thursday. “It is a magnificent piece of land. It probably is as beautiful a piece of land as you will ever see. It has a growth of large evergreens and large hardwood mixed wood. It is a beautiful forest to walk through,” he added.
The Bailey Wildlife Foundation is a family foundation committed to long-term natural resource conservation. This is the first land purchase the foundation has made in Maine, but according to Bruce Kidman, director of communications for The Nature Conservancy, the foundation has assisted the conservancy with other state land preservation efforts.