KINGFIELD, Maine —
The town of Kingfield in Franklin County is home to the state’s newest “community forest.”
Picturesque and popular Shiloh Pond is now permanently protected.
“We’re surrounded by a lot of privately owned land, so now, this is the first publicly-owned land in Kingfield,” said Betsy Cook, of the Trust for Public Land.
The 215-acre property is owned by the town of Kingfield. The creation of the “community forest” was a three-year project led by the conservation group High Peaks Alliance, the Trust for Public Land and the Kingfield residents who voted to buy the land.
“The Trust for Public Land is all about creating close-to-home outdoor experiences. We create parks and protect land specifically for the benefit of people in communities,” Cook said.
For decades, Shiloh Pond was privately owned but always open to public use. When it was put up for sale three years ago, many residents feared it might be purchased for development and the land cut off to public access.
“I think generally everyone here was worried we wouldn’t be able to come back here and fish. We wouldn’t be able to come swim and hike and explore the area,” High Peaks Alliance Executive Director Brent West said.
“Being able to bolster up and encourage local communities to take a hold of their futures by creating public land is one of the things we really care about,” Cook said.
The future of Shiloh Pond is now in the hands of the residents on Kingfield.
“From here on out, we’re going to help the town start a management committee,” West said.
“We’re really glad to have set them up with funding to be able to improve access, help to make the trails more welcoming and make sure this continues to be a spot people want to come,” Cook said.