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Conservation Agreements Reached for Ellsworth’s Branch Lake 

After four years of planning and input from a variety of groups, agreements have been reached to conserve nearly 12-hundred acres around Branch Lake in Ellsworth.The hope is to protect the city’s water supply and open up new areas for public recreation.”The city of Ellsworth, along with the Frenchman Bay Conservancy, the Forest Society of Maine, the Trust for Public Land and the Land for Maine’s Future, all these parties have successful purchased a conservation easement and land purchase on Branch Lake,” says Michelle Beal, Ellsworth City Manager.Beal says it’s something Ellsworth needed to better protect the city’s water supply.”The opportunity to preserve 1196 acres, three miles of shorefront around our intake and our water supply, it was just something that needed to be done,” she says.Wolfe Tone, with the Trust for Public Land, has worked on the project since the beginning. “They’re investing in protecting the land, which is more cost effective, cheaper, than having to build out infrastructure and filtration in the future,” he says.Ellsworth is contributing 1.5 million dollars to the nearly two-and-a-half million dollar project. The state covers the rest through the Land for Maine’s Future program.Some city councilors objected to the cost, but Beal says the funds fit in the city’s long-term plans.”It’s a place where people are going to be able to enjoy for generations, and it’s a tremendous success for Ellsworth,” Tone says.Under the agreements, some areas will be protected for forestry and others for recreation.The city bought roughly 450-acres and will work with the Frenchman Bay Conservancy to develop trails and other areas for the public to enjoy.”We really wanted to give the city of Ellsworth access to this beautiful natural area, the lake and surrounding woodlands,” says Tom Sidar, Frenchman Bay Conservancy Executive Director. “And, to commit our resources to provide stewardship of this easement forever, as they say, in perpetuity.”