Map by CCGIS, From the book “Enduring Heights” by John & Cynthia Orcutt available at www.johnorcuttnaturephoto.com

High Peaks Initiative

High Peaks Initiative is a collaborative of local, regional, and national organizations working in Maine’s High Peaks region. Our Mission is to protect important natural resources, secure public access, and support healthy human and natural communities in Maine’s High Peaks.

High Peaks Initiative advances its mission through network-based collaborative approaches that:

  • Advance tangible multi-sector projects to deliver near term benefits to people, communities, and the environment
  • Attract resources and implement projects that address persistent challenges and enhance long-term community well being

Within this context, High Peaks Initiative partners are currently focused on:

  • A coordinated approach to land conservation, resource management, public access & recreational use
  • Permanently protecting key pieces of the region’s forests through a mix of conservation tools
  • Ensuring a well-managed and maintained regional trails system which provides a quality and safe recreational
    experience
  • Integrating the region’s recreation/conservation infrastructure into the regional and State economy through coordinated efforts which engage partners and stakeholders

HIGH PEAKS INITIATIVE PARTNERS

  • High Peaks Alliance – co-coordinator
  • Appalachian Trail Conservancy
  • Maine Mountain Collaborative
  • New England Forestry Foundation
  • Northern Forest Center
  • The Wilderness Society
  • Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust – co-coordinator
  • Center for Community GIS
  • Maine Huts and Trails
  • Northern Forest Canoe Trail
  • Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust
  • Trust for Public Land

HIGH PEAKS GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  • Our work is driven by community values and dependent on a rich understanding of people, place and history
  • High Peaks Initiative relies on strong relationships, collaboration and shared learning to generate new opportunities and build local capacity
  • Our initiatives rely on local voices, technical expertise, and thoughtful comprehensive planning that cultivates diverse support

CONTEXT FOR REGIONAL COLLABORATION

The focus area for this project, Maine’s High Peaks region (approximately 200,000 acres), is renowned for its vast forest, abundant recreation opportunities, spectacular scenery, and ecological integrity including:

  • Ten of the fourteen highest summits in Maine
  • Largest cluster of peaks over 4,000 feet in elevation in Maine
  • Largest contiguous area of land over 2,700 feet in elevation in Maine
  • The headwaters of the Androscoggin, Dead, and Kennebec Rivers including remote lakes and ponds that support native brook trout and numerous fast flowing streams that are recognized as prime spawning habitats of the endangered sea-run Atlantic salmon.

This region is recognized in numerous ecological and community planning efforts including:

  • Maine Wildlife Action Plan
  • Beginning with Habitat Program
  • Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture
  • NOAA’s Atlantic Salmon Restoration Plan
  • LUPC’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan
  • Comprehensive Plan for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail
  • High Peaks Conservation Plan developed by the MATLT
  • High Peaks Backcountry Trail Plan developed by HPA

Recreational infrastructure and capacity includes:

  • Saddleback Maine and Sugarloaf Mountain resorts
  • Maine Huts and Trails
  • The Appalachian National Scenic Trail
  • Northern Forest Canoe Trail
  • Fly Rod Crosby Trail
  • Interconnected Trail System (ITS) network of snowmobile trails
  • Maine Scenic Byway – High Peaks
  • National Scenic Byway – Rangeley Lakes
  • Hundreds of miles of multi-purpose local, regional, and statewide trails
  • Dozens of locally owned small businesses which support and are supported by outdoor enthusiasts that provide guide services, lodging, equipment and supplies, and more
  • Thousands of acres of conservation land held by State, Federal, and Local entities or conservation organizations protecting traditional public access and uses