Grant Money Aimed at Recreation in Northern Washington County 

One hundred thousand dollars changed hands today, to support outdoor recreation in a part of Washington county. The money comes from energy company First Wind.In Bangor Thursday, folks were talking about the new grant program aimed at the woods and waters in the Baskahegan Stream watershed.”The watershed of the Baskahegan region is about 250 square miles. Hundreds of miles of rivers and streams, and about a dozen lakes and ponds, are all included in where this money is going to go to good work,” says Alan Hutchinson. Hutchinson is the director of the Forest Society of Maine, which will oversee the Stetson Mountain Fund. He says it will help private landowners maintain their lands for public recreation, by helping with the upkeep of boat launches, canoe and fishing access points, and picnic areas.”We have this incredible tradition of people being allowed to use private lands. And at times there’s a burden placed on landowners in that regard. A fund like this can help that tradition be supported,” Hutchinson says.First Wind is donating the 100 thousand dollars. The company operates Stetson Wind in the area, which is the largest operational wind farm in New England. Folks there say since much of the area’s economy is based on recreation, they’re hoping it provides an economic boost.”With timber, outdoor recreation and now wind power, it’s a more diverse ecomony that can hire a lot of Mainers – and none of those uses interfere with each other,” says Matt Kearns, First Wind vice president.Local folks, like Elbridge Cleaves of the Danforth area, will help with the process. His family has been in the area for four generations.”It’s really important not only for personal reasons but for economic and quality of life reasons in our area,” Cleaves says.They say grants will be awarded to local groups and communities each year, starting this spring, and anticipate that typical grants will be for 1,000 to 3,000 dollars. They hope to break ground on the first project by summer.