August 18, 2020
Since the end of the 2008 Recession, people have been more likely to move to recreation counties. This is particularly true for rural counties like Franklin County. Many of Franklin County’s residents have seen the positive economic and public health benefits that outdoor recreation can have on our region and have worked hard to expand trail networks, public lands, and other necessary infrastructure.
That work continues to pay off, especially during this pandemic. While many people in cities found themselves suddenly stuck indoors, residents of rural Maine have been taking advantage of the trails and lands in their own backyards. Now that many jobs are shifting to a fully remote work-from-home system, some people who were previously tied to cities for their jobs are now able to move to regions like ours for a lower cost of living and a more relaxed and balanced quality of life. Outdoor recreation options play a huge role in that quality of life.
From this study by Headwaters Economics, “Recreation appears to drive varied economic benefits, including short-term support for tourism-related businesses and longer-term support by recruiting new residents who may be business owners, entrepreneurs, or workers, supporting growth in earnings per job across a community.” The pandemic, although unfortunate in many ways, has positioned our region well to see the economic benefits of recruiting new residents.
With the economic benefits of public lands at the front of our minds, we want to share two exciting pieces of news affecting outdoor recreation in Franklin County:
MeatEater is hosting a public auction this week to help meet the cost of buying the 215-acre parcel, an effort that's been underway since last year by the High Peaks Alliance, town of Kingfield and Trust for Public Land.
"We want to use our Land Access Initiative funds to keep Shiloh open to the public forever, making sure that folks in the region have a great place to fish, hunt and recreate for generations to come," the webpage says.
TNC has acquired a healthy, mature mountain forest that runs along 12 miles of the border with Quebec, Canada. It contains important headwater habitat for the Kennebec River and is adjacent to the watershed of the Chaudière River, which flows north to join the St. Lawrence at Quebec City. Located in Franklin County, the property includes 3,648-foot Caribou Mountain, 3,333-foot Merrill Mountain, and a dozen other peaks over 2,700 feet in elevation.
The acquisition extends a corridor of permanently conserved lands northward to a total of over 260,000 acres, representing a key link in a major pathway of ecological connection from the White Mountains in New Hampshire through the western Maine Mountains and Quebec borderlands and beyond. The property will be known as the Boundary Mountains Preserve.
TNC welcomes people to enjoy recreation at the Boundary Mountains Preserve, including birding, hunting, and fishing, in accordance with state law.
Western Maine’s economic future must include increased growth in its recreational offerings. These two projects are recent examples of such focus.
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