Conserving Forests for Clean Water

Our mission is to protect water quality, community well-being, a vibrant economy, and fish and wildlife habitat in the Sebago watershed through voluntary forestland conservation.

These goals are supported by businesses, watershed landowners, municipal leaders, and private citizens. The work we do together is inspired by the countless benefits the watershed provides to this region’s residents, visitors, and downstream water users.

Learn more about our history, goals, and progress in this case study by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

A Rare and Critical Resource

Sebago Lake is one of only 50 surface drinking water supplies in the country that requires no filtration before treatment. One out of six Mainers (more than 200,000 people) and Maine’s fastest growing businesses depend on this pristine resource. The forests that serve as the wellspring for these waters create, filter, and sustain this exceptionally pure water supply.

The Challenge

The 234,000-acre Sebago watershed is 84 percent forestland. With only 15 percent of this region conserved, it represents one of the Northeast’s most vulnerable watersheds. A U.S. Forest Service study identified the Sebago watershed at high risk of losing important forestland to development pressure. It is imperative to increase the pace of conservation to avoid significant infrastructure costs and protect the watershed’s many natural values.

The Solution

Our collaborative—comprised of conservation organizations and a regional water utility—aims to engage individuals, communities, and businesses in helping to protect 25 percent (35,000 more acres) of the Sebago Lake watershed in the next 15 years. To enable these conservation efforts, we will raise funds from public and private sources.

How Forests Keep Our Water Clean


Forests filter rainfall, removing sediments and pollutants before slowly releasing clean water into streams and rivers.


Tree roots and decaying leaves and needles keep soil in place, preventing erosion of potentially damaging sediments.


Forested landscapes provide cover and shade for fish species, like trout and salmon that require cool water temperatures to survive.


Forested flood plains provide a place for water to go during heavy rains, reducing the potential for damage to developed areas downstream.

©Nicole Keating/The Nature Conservancy

Learn about the rare and essential resource that is Sebago Lake and how we're working with Portland Water District to protect it.

Sebago Clean Waters in the News

Press Releases

Sebago Clean Waters announces conservation of 12,000 acres of forestland in Oxford County (12/2021)
Read Press Release

Sebago Clean Waters awarded $8 million USDA grant to protect water quality and other benefits of the Sebago Lake watershed (9/2020)
Read Press Release

Sebago Clean Waters makes significant progress toward 35,000-acre conservation goal with the The Conservation Fund’s purchase of Chadbourne Tree Farms in Western Maine (6/2020)
Read Press Release

Loon Echo Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land announce acquisition of Tiger Hill Community Forest land (1/2020)
Read Press Release

Allagash announces pledge to donate ten cents for every barrel of beer brewed to Sebago Clean Waters (10/2019)
Read Press Release

Foundation Brewing and Orono Brewing collaborate on Earth Day-centered IPAs to benefit clean water efforts in Maine (4/2019)
Read Press Release





News Articles

Sebago Clean Waters as a case study in connecting upstream and downstream communities to protect a water source (10/2022)
Read Lincoln Institute of Land Policy article

Lakes Environmental Association, Sebago Clean Waters, and partners remove Naples dam restricting fish passage (9/2022)
Read Maine Public story
Read Lakes Environmental Association article

12,000 acres of Oxford County forestland permanently protected (12/2021)
Read Maine Public story

Woodland Owners Appreciation Day participants feel they are making a difference by keeping their land forested (10/2021)
Read Bridgton News article

University of Maine research team determines benefits and costs of conserving Sebago watershed forestland to protect drinking water and other values (10/2021)
Read Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions newsletter

Portland-area breweries support Sebago Clean Waters forest conservation efforts (5/2021)
Watch News Center Maine broadcast

Loon Echo Land Trust and Sebago Clean Waters protect additional acreage for Sebago’s Tiger Hill Community Forest (3/2021)
Read Portland Press Herald article

Loon Echo Land Trust protects critical part of the Tenny River with help from Sebago Clean Waters (2/2021)
Read Mainebiz article

Sebago Clean Waters gets $8 million federal grant to protect Sebago Lake watershed (9/2020)
Read Mainebiz article
Read Maine Public article

15,000 acres of forestland in Western Maine protected through sale of green bonds (6/2020)
Read Forbes magazine article

1,400 acre Tiger Hill Community Forest near Sebago Lake now officially protected (1/2020)
Read Maine Public story

History and importance of clean water in Greater Portland (11/2019)
Read Portland Press Herald article

Loon Echo Land Trust purchases 252 acres in Bridgton area (9/2019)
Read Sun Journal article

Loon Echo Land Trust expands Crooked River Forest (8/2019)
Read Sun Journal article

The importance of forests for clean water and good beer (5/2019)
Read Portland Press Herald article

Hiking opportunities made possible by Western Foothills Land Trust (1/2019)
Read MaineToday article

Portland Water District honored for protecting Sebago Lake watershed (3/2018)
Read Mainebiz article

Western Foothills Land Trust acquires Crooked River parcel (9/2017)
Read Turner Publishing article