FARMINGTON — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is holding a public listening session and workshop Thursday on the concept of a National Wildlife Refuge in the High Peaks Region of western Maine.

The session will run from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the University of Maine at Farmington’s Olsen Student Center on South Street. There is limited parking on the side of South Street and a parking lot off High Street.

The High Peaks region includes 10 of Maine’s 14 highest summits with the “largest cluster of peaks over 4,000 feet in the state,” according to the overview.

Information will be gathered on conservation, recreation and economic opportunities. A similar session was held in Rangeley on Tuesday.

There is no plan yet, Paul Casey of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday.

Franklin County commissioners voted 2-0-1 on Tuesday to not support the proposal. Commissioners Bob Carlton of Freeman Township and Lance Harvell of Farmington voted not to support it for reasons including taking more land off the tax rolls. Commission Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton abstained because he didn’t think the county should take sides.


According to an overview of the project, it is a partner-driven conservation effort underway in the Maine 400,000-acre High Peaks Region.

“The goal is to permanently conserve the region’s exceptional mixture of fish, wildlife, and habitat in a way that also provides strategic habitat connections and opportunities for climate change adoption,” according to the overview.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified a 200,000-acre study area, Casey said. The area includes two ski areas, Saddleback in Sandy River Plantation and Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, and developed land, but the service is not interested in those, he said.

The study area targets the Appalachian Trail corridor. The effort seeks to establish a new refuge in the heart of the High Peaks. The region supports Maine’s $2.8 billion outdoor economy.

For more information, Casey can be contacted via email or by phone 603-482-3415, ext. 151.

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