Resort Planned For Schoodic Peninsula Near Acadia National Park Scuttled

A purchase of some 3,200 acres of land near Acadia National Park on the Schoodic Peninsula will prevent the land from being transformed into a high-end resort with hundreds of villas and a golf course.

A 3,200-acre tract of raw, wild land next to a section of Acadia National Park once planned for development as an "eco-resort" has been purchased by a company that intends to work to see the land preserved.

The Lyme Timber Co. earlier this week announced the purchase of the acreage on the Schoodic Peninsula from Winter Harbor Holdings, LLC. Winter Harbor Holdings had intended to turn the property, a portion of which is adjacent to the Schoodic Point portion of Acadia, into a resort with hundreds of villages, resorts, and a golf course, according to a release from the timber company.

“We are delighted to have acquired this important parcel,” said Peter Stein, managing director at Lyme. “The property is an important local/regional resource with significant ecological value, and we are pleased at the opportunity to ensure the future of its natural resources.”

According to Lyme, the plans for the resort never materialized, and following a year's worth of negotiations, Winter Harbor Holdings decided to sell the land to the timber company.

In the coming months, Lyme intends to work with Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a statewide land conservation organization, Friends of Acadia, and other stakeholders to create a plan for the property that takes into account its conservation values and considers appropriate resource development.

Following its purchase, Lyme entered into an option agreement with Maine Coast Heritage Trust, giving it the opportunity in the future to acquire a conservation easement on the southern portion of the property.

“We look forward to working with Lyme Timber to advance our shared goals of conserving this land that means so much to the Schoodic Peninsula and the people of Maine,” said Tim Glidden, president of MCHT.

At Friends of Acadia, President and Chief Executive Officer Marla O'Byrne congratulated "Lyme Timber for negotiating this historic opportunity, and are pleased to support them and MCHT in an effort that is so important to the Acadia region.”

The Lyme Timber Company is a private timberland investment management organization with a long track record of acquiring and sustainably managing lands with unique conservation values. Lyme has worked on numerous rural real estate investments in Maine over the last two decades, typically on lands adjacent to State or National Parks, including projects at Bar Harbor, Donnell Pond, Nicatouas Lake, Grand Lake Stream, and Amherst.

The Lyme Timber Company has a long and significant history in Maine. Since 1989, Lyme Timber has purchased over 36,000 acres throughout the state and conserved the majority of these lands through fee and conservation easement transactions. Through its advisory business, Lyme Timber has consulted on projects that have resulted in over 785,000 acres of conservation.

In balancing private and public priorities for the land it purchases, Lyme Timber has partnered with a variety of conservation organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Forest Society of Maine, Downeast Lakes Land Trust, The Conservation Fund, Coastal Mountains Land Trust and New England Forestry Foundation. Lyme has also partnered with various state and federal agencies, including the Maine Department of Conservation, Acadia National Park, US Forest Service and White Mountain National Forest. Several representative deals are described below.

• In Amherst, Maine, Lyme Timber conserved 5,400 acres in partnership with the State of Maine Department of Conservation and the Forest Society of Maine. In this investment, Lyme Timber purchased the property in 2006 and granted an option to the Forest Society of Maine to buy the property at the end of the three year option period. The Forest Society of Maine ultimately transferred its purchase rights to the Maine Department of Conservation, which purchased the property in 2009 as conservation land and a community forest.

• Lyme Timber has also done a number of limited development conservation deals in Hancock County. Over a five year period, Lyme Timber invested in 600 acres on Mount Desert Island in collaboration with Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Acadia National Park. These projects were known as Acadian Woods, Fogg Farm and Long Pond. In most cases, these lands were conserved through conservation easements held by Maine Coast Heritage Trust with some portion set aside for limited development.

• One of the largest investments Lyme Timber has made in Maine is its Grand Lake Stream property in the Downeast region in Maine. This property, consisting of over 22,000 acres, is ecologically significant because of its central location in a landscape-scale conservation initiative and its undeveloped shoreline on unique lakes and streams. Lyme Timber anticipates selling a working forest conservation easement in 2012 to the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, which plans to also eventually purchase the remainder of the property and convert it into a community forest.

Comments

At first, I was suspicious. Lyme Timber Company? They want to preserve this land?

I visited their web site: "Lyme acquires large timberland properties with unique conservation values and then seeks to sell conservation interests early in the investment cycle. Lyme adds value through the use of advantageous financing and operational restructuring. Investment returns come from a combination of operating income derived from timber harvesting and recreational leasing and capital events including the sale of conservation interests and the final sale of the property."

So, yes, they make their money from the land, one commercial way or the other. Then I thought this: What was the alternative to have been here? "A resort with hundreds of villages, resorts, and a golf course"?

Perhaps this arrangement is not so bad after all. If the southern portion of this tract is preserved in its pristine state, albeit at a profit for Lyme Timber Company, that's a good thing. Half a loaf is better than none. Capitalism and environmentalism in partnership!