Falmouth gets $230K federal grant for forest acquisition

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FALMOUTH — The U.S. Forest Service has awarded a $230,000 grant to Falmouth to fund the purchase of a 96-acre addition to the North Falmouth Community Forest.

The Community Forest Program will distribute the grant, which will increase the size of the North Falmouth Community Forest to 370 acres.

“This federal grant will help preserve valuable forest in Falmouth and ensure recreational opportunities for generations of Mainers to come,” U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, said Friday, June 27, in a joint announcement.

The town plans to remove the land’s “less vigorous” trees and use the biomass from the project to power the wood-chip boilers that have been installed over the past year to heat Falmouth Schools, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The land will be tied into the forest’s larger network of recreational trails, and used to provide outdoor education opportunities for students and other residents.

The Town Council in December applied for the grant, as well as one from Land for Maine’s Future, a program housed in the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, for which it has not yet received a response. 

In March, the council voted unanimously to buy $450,000 worth of land in the event the grants are approved, a move that was celebrated by conservationists, hikers and a local snowmobiling club, among others.

The land acquisition moves are consistent with the Greening of Falmouth, a 2006 plan that called for the preservation of town trails and open spaces.

Brendan Twist can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or btwist@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @brendantwist.