Since 2020, secured $65,000 funds to complete ConnectMaine Phase 1 and Phase 2 planning for high-speed broadband services for the region. The next planning phase is underway. Mission Broadband, a broadband consulting firm, will be completing a provider RFP and cost analysis project that will set the stage for the regional and town recommendations on a business and financing model to initiate funding applications for the infrastructure build-out.
The 2020-2021 development of a cultural/heritage site at the confluence of the Baskahegan and Mattawamkeag Rivers in Bancroft Twp. was a direct outgrowth of the GEGR Economic planning initiative. The project, administered by CORE, will include a walking trail along the Baskahegan, a carry-in canoe and kayak launch site on the Mattawamkeag and a heritage interpretative sign situated on a high bank overlooking the Baskahegan River. The interpretative sign will highlight the history of the Baskahegan Valley including the rise of Danforth. The project is a partnership between the Baskahegan Company, CORE and the GEGR Economic Planning Initiative.
One of the important roles of faith-based organizations in the GEGR is to provide “organized” opportunities for people to socially interact, especially during the winter months. (Really critical as functions at public institutions such as schools are highly curtailed during COVID) A great example of this community role is the acquisition of the former Brookton Elementary School by the local Pentecostal Church. It is our understanding the Church is going to operate the building as a “community center” in conjunction with the outreach of their ministry.
East Grand Lake Advocacy
- During the summer of 2019 the GEGR volunteers provided testimony and formally participated in a FERC hearing relating to the fate of the Forest City Dam and the dire economic impact of a potential lowering of the water level in East Grand Lake. Involvement is ongoing.
- In the fall of 2019 held a small group forum with Downeast Fisheries Partnership to inform the group of local concerns about the potential negative impact on already stressed cold water fisheries by sea run alewives in East Grand Lake.
Public Access to East Grand Lake in Weston
- Future Waterfront Recreation Area – the 2020 Town of Weston acquisition of 900 feet of frontage from The Conservation Fund (TCF) at Meetinghouse Cove.
- Future Development – in 2020 approximately 2 miles of frontage at several locations on East Grand Lake has been reserved out of a pending conservation easement for potential future development.
Permanent Public Access to Lakes
A pending 2021+/- conservation easement will permanently guarantee public access to approximately 5000 acres and 24 miles of undeveloped frontage around portions of Deering, Brackett and East Grand Lakes.
Public Access to Mattawamkeag
In 2019 and 2020 initiated discussions and held on-site meetings with Diano Circo and Kevin Dunham of MDIF&W to seek improvements in public access to the Mattawamkeag River in Reed Plantation and in Haynesville. Ongoing discussions.
- Initiated strategic and collaborative planning for snowmobile and ATV Clubs trails in the GEGR during the fall and winter of 2019-2020. Talks included involvement of the State of Maine Bureau of Public Lands, landowners, four (4) snowmobile and three (3) ATV Clubs. Discussions are ongoing.
- Some of the projects and concepts discussed included an 80 mile long “Heritage Snowmobile Trail” loop and increased connectivity of multi-use motorized trails to underserved areas of the Region.
GEGR Water Trails
- As part of a strategy to develop a greater diversity of recreational opportunities the GEGR Team during the winter of 2019-2020 developed draft concept plans for formal water trails on the Mattawamkeag and Baskahegan Rivers and additional campsites on the US side of the Upper St. Croix River including East Grand and Spednic Lake.
- Provided support and initiative in 2020 to formally develop a water trail for the Baskahegan River capitalizing on prior investments by volunteers including the Outdoor Education Class at East Grand School, Stetson Mountain Fund grants, and landowner permission/participation. The project is a direct outgrowth of 10 years of recreational infrastructure improvements within the Baskahegan Watershed. The Stetson Mountain Fund was established by First Wind, held by the Forest Society of Maine and is administered with the assistance of a local advisory committee including a representative of the Baskahegan Company.
- Recreational infrastructure improvements at publicly available Baskahegan Lake Landing in Brookton have included the recent construction and installation of a pit privy and on-going summer grounds maintenance at the parking and landing area. Funding has primarily been provided by the Stetson Mountain Fund and the Baskahegan Company. Contractual arrangements for local maintenance services has been through North Maine Woods in Ashland. Baskahegan Landing was identified as high priority for improvements in a watershed study conducted by the Stetson Mountain Fund Advisory Committee in 2010.
Hiking & Cross-Country Ski Trails
- The summer of 2020 has seen substantially higher levels of use at the East Grand Highlands Hiking Trail in Danforth. The project, a tremendous success, is a partnership between the Greater East Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Woodie Wheaton Land Trust and the landowner – Snow Family Trust.
- Area hiking trail development/expansion is a work-in-progress. The anticipated 2021 completion of the TCF East Grand Project is projected to l enable the expansion of the Meetinghouse /Sucker Lake trail system, and potentially identify additional trails for development northerly of
- East Grand Lake in the Dark Cove – Brackett Lake area of the project.
- The Harlow Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Trail located in Danforth continues to see improvements from its grand opening in February 2018. 2019 grant funding was carried over to help install a new sign at US Route 1 and an educational and informational Kiosk at the trailhead. The Harlow Trail is a partnership between the East Grand School, the Town of Danforth, the Baskahegan Company, the East Grand Snowmobile Club and the many volunteers who help make it happen. CORE has provided oversight. Much of the funding for the Trail has been through the Stetson Mtn. Fund grant program at the Forest Society of Maine.
Forestry Companies Commitment
- In 2020 Baskahegan Company added 26,000 +/- formerly Wagner Forest Management/TIMO owned acres to their “family owned” timberland base. These lands remain eased under the 2005 Sunrise Conservation Easement.
- In 2019 Baskahegan Company demonstrated their long-term commitment to timberland management in the Region by entering over 86,000 acres of timber in a 100 year-long carbon sequestration program.
- A number of local logging contractors have diversified their operations to include timberland ownership. Most recently, timberlands in Orient were purchased following enrollment under a State of Maine conservation easement.
- These acquisitions above, along with the thousands of acres of previously acquired commercial timberlands have increased the percentage of family owned lands in the Region to over 80%. The management of these lands with a commitment to locally produced timber and forest products, permissive use of a wide array of responsible pubic recreation and as a member of the local community is the economic backbone of the GEGR.