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.

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 10 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 initiative 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 $15 million from public and private funding sources.

How Forests Keep Our Water Clean

FILTER WATER

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

CONTROL EROSION

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

PROVIDE HABITAT

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

RELIEVE FLOODING

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

Sebago Clean Waters in the News

Press Releases

Sebago Clean Waters awarded $8 million USDA grant to protect water quality and other benefits of the Sebago Lake watershed (9/2020)
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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)
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Loon Echo Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land announce acquisition of Tiger Hill Community Forest land (1/2020)
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Allagash announces pledge to donate ten cents for every barrel of beer brewed to Sebago Clean Waters (10/2019)
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Foundation Brewing and Orono Brewing collaborate on Earth Day-centered IPAs to benefit clean water efforts in Maine (4/2019)
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News Articles

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 acres near Sebago Lake now officially protected (1/2020)
Read Maine Public article

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