Deep in the Maine Woods is a remote mountainous area known as the 100-Mile Wilderness. The term has become the de facto name for this 1-million-acre region, but few people know that the term was first used as a warning about the remoteness of the area. It was a warning not just for casual visitors, but for long-distance hikers thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. Unlike much of the Appalachian Trail on which a hiker comes across public roads or towns every few days, this stretch of trail from Monson to Abol Bridge Campground – about 100 miles--crosses neither. Hikers – even experienced ones – must carry everything they need for seven to 10 days of remote backpacking without resupply.
Seen on a map, the region is roughly book-ended by two of Maine’s most iconic natural features: Moosehead Lake – Maine’s largest -- to the southwest, and Katahdin-- Maine’s highest mountain -- to the north. The region is almost entirely comprised of private timberlands without conservation protections, but thanks to those landowners and the work of state and non-profit groups, multiple conservation success stories have arisen here. This includes AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative, which has protected nearly 67,000 acres, and now an adjacent new conservation opportunity is in the works.
At 3,654 feet White Cap Mountain is the highest mountain in the 100-Mile Wilderness. It provides hikers with a stunning view across the 100-Mile Wilderness to Katahdin. The Appalachian Trail corridor protects the summit, and the Appalachian Mountain Club’s conservation lands protect its north slope. But the rugged south slope, with multiple waterfalls and the West Branch of the Pleasant River, is unprotected – for now. Thanks to a willing landowner and the Forest Society of Maine, 14,000 acres of White Cap’s south slope could soon be conserved by a conservation easement and purchase by the State of Maine.
This conservation project, known as the “Gulf-Hagas White Cap Project,” seeks to permanently protect 5.5 miles of frontage on both sides of the West Branch of the Pleasant River, which contains sea-run Atlantic salmon and native brook trout. The project lands contain the trailheads to two National Natural Landmarks: Gulf Hagas, a 3.5-mile gorge on the West Branch of the Pleasant River, and The Hermitage, a 35-acre reserve with some of Maine’s oldest white pines. If successful the project will conserve 5,400 acres of high-elevation spruce-fir forest abutting 11 miles of the Appalachian Trail corridor and 1,200 acres of wetland forests along the West Branch of the Pleasant River as ecological reserves. An additional 7,200 acres will be protected from development while allowing sustainable forest management to continue. The project lands also include two scenic waterfalls, campsites, and hiking access to the summit of White Cap.
Funding for the conservation of these lands will come from the Land for Maine’s Future Program and Forest Legacy. Public support for these conservation programs is critical to their being funded and for this project in particular. AMC is asking our members and anyone who values spectacular wild places in the Northeast to contact their members of Congress and ask them to support full funding for Forest Legacy and LWCF. For members in the Northeast, please ask them to support the Gulf Hagas-White Cap Forest Legacy project. Just a handful of calls makes a difference.
You can easily find your Representatives’ contact information at:
And your Senators’ contact information at:
AMC appreciates the assistance of the Conservation Alliance and the many outdoor retailer companies who support it. These companies give generously to support protection of wild places across the country:
Labels: Maine, MAine Woods Initiative