The groups behind a proposed community forest in Rumford say they have secured enough money to move forward with the project.
The U.S. Forest Service has awarded $422,000 to the coalition working to preserve a popular outdoor recreation area just outside of downtown Rumford. When combined with more than $360,000 in matching funds from the Land for Maine’s Future program, the money will allow the groups to cover acquisition costs for the 446-acre Rumford Community Forest.
Gabe Perkins, executive director of the Bethel-based nonprofit Inland Woods and Trails, says the land sits uniquely between downtown Rumford, the Black Mountain ski area and Rumford Whitecap Mountain.
“It’s sort of the key, large parcel between those,” Perkins said. “And our work at Inland Woods and Trails is all about connecting downtowns to anchor destinations through trails. We’ve done that recipe or cooked that recipe several times here in Bethel and we are replicating in Rumford.”
Perkins’ group is working on the project with the Trust for Public Land and the Northern Forest Center. Those two organizations have been involved in creating community forests across New England, including others in Maine. The Rumford project joins a growing number of community forests in this state, from the Grand Lake Stream area to Bethel in the western mountains and Sanford in the south.
Rumford Community Forest will be open to hiking, biking, snowmobiling, ATV riding , hunting, fishing and other activities. Rumford’s Planning Board is currently working on a plan for the area.