It is the purpose of the Easement to maintain the Property forever in its present and historic, primarily undeveloped condition as a working forest, and to conserve and/or enhance forest and wildlife habitats, shoreline protection and historic public recreation opportunities on the Property for present and future generations. -The Easement
A conservation easement is a legal agreement that transfers a portion of the property rights on a specific piece of property from the landowner to an independent organization.
In general, forest land conservation easements restrict property from the landowner to an independent organization. In general, forest land conservation easements restrict the right of a landowner, and all subsequent landowners, to develop the property for any uses other than forestry and open space.
In exchange, the property value is reduced and the landowner may receive substantial savings in property and estate taxes. Within that general framework, there is room for the landowner and the conservation organization to tailor a specific easement that meets their shared goals.
Established in 2001, the 754,673 acre easement between the Pingree family and the New England Forestry Foundation covers approximately 80% of Pingree-owned land in northern and western Maine. The Pingree Forest Partnership is built upon three major areas of focus: development rights, public access and recreation, and forest management
The primary purpose of the easement is to protect the property forever through the restriction of development rights. The easement specifies restrictions on subdivision, residential structures, gravel pits and residential, commercial and industrial uses.
The Pingree family didn’t want the Easement to displace current, compatible public recreational use of the lands, including hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, boating, snowmobiling, etc. Therefore, public recreation was incorporated into the purpose section of the document, which assures that “historic public recreation opportunities” will be maintained or enhanced.
Forest Management Guidelines
The easement took a unique and creative approach toward the forest management activities that occur on the easement lands. Many conservation easements are very specific about forest management guidelines, some even going so far as to mandate stocking levels of specific species and approval of all management plans on the property.
On a property of this size, however, such requirements would be unreasonably difficult to administer and monitor. Therefore, the easement contains a set of forest management guidelines, which roughly parallel current independent “green” certification standards. The Pingree family forest lands have been certified to the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) standards since 1993 and 2000 respectively. Within these guidelines the Pingree family continues to practice the good stewardship that it has for decades. The forest management guidelines address silvicultural practices, diversity, riparian ecosystems, wildlife management and forest productivity.