April 01, 2020
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Management plan for Seboomook hailed at forum Document still needs fine-tuning

DOVER-FOXCROFT- A proposed management plan for the state’s Seboomook Unit was hailed Tuesday as a good vision but one that needs a little tweaking.

“This is a real good effort, I think it’s a good document,” Bob Guethlen of Rockwood, a member of the plan’s advisory committee, said Tuesday during a review of the final draft in Dover-Foxcroft.

“There’s a lot of things that happen between good ideas and the implementation of the plan,” Guethlen said. “There needs to be a lot of thoughtful time spent to make sure those ideas are carried out on the ground.”

The Department of Conservation, Bureau of Parks and Land, has been working for about two years on a 10-year plan to manage land the state purchased in 2003 as part of the West Branch Project.

This land includes 41,000 acres in the Seboomook region; about 810 acres in the Canada Falls Lake-South Branch of the Penobscot River area; about 4,242 acres on Big Spencer Mountain, about 3,895 acres in the St. John Ponds parcel, and about 1,625 acres in the Baker Lake area.

“This plan is put together with a lot of input,” Kathy Eickenberg, management plan coordinator, told about 30 people Tuesday, most of whom were involved in the plan’s development. The effort behind the plan is to provide a balance of opportunities from timber management, recreation – both motorized and nonmotorized – and wildlife management on the land, she said.

Sandra Neily of Greenvillle, a member of the advisory committee, encouraged the state to promote nonmotorized recreation on the property and to provide good signage to differentiate the areas for motorized and nonmotorized recreation.

On the flip side, Dan Mitchell, executive director of ATV Maine, which represents 130 clubs, said in order to keep all-terrain vehicles on designated trails, the state must provide more than a flat, gravel road. “We have an equal share in this public land and we want a view,” he said. “The opportunity has to be there, that’s what makes it work,” he said.

The state does plan within two years to provide an alternative high-vista snowmobile trail to replace the existing primitive snowmobile trail that leads to the abandoned warden’s cabin on Big Spencer Mountain. It also plans to remove the warden’s cabin, a move that upset Alan Hutchinson of the Forest Society of Maine.

Hutchinson called the warden’s cabin a “critical piece of the region’s history” and asked for some time to organize an effort to save the historical building. He said he hoped the resources can be found to maintain the cabin since it fits well with the ecotourism effort under way in the Moosehead Lake region. He said the cabin is one of a few still in existence today in the state.

As for access to the Seboomook Unit that lies just inside 20-Mile Gate, Eickenberg said discussions are ongoing with North Maine Woods Inc., the nonprofit corporation that manages recreation for several surrounding forest landowners in the region, to include the property under its gate system.

“Our goal is to maintain gates there and to provide access at a very reasonable rate,” David Soucy, director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands, said Tuesday. “We really want to work with them [North Maine Woods Inc.]. The issue is how much should be charged at the gate,” he said.

Soucy said the comments aired at the meeting – most of which centered on the need to clarify what public access means in relation to motorized and nonmotorized – will be considered as his department fine-tunes the document. He expects to present the plan to Commissioner Patrick McGowan of the Department of Conservation for his approval before year’s end.

“We have a tendency to look at the management plan as Moses coming down from the mountain with the stone tablets, but this is not written in stone,” Soucy said.


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