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The Tumbledown Conservation Alliance 

When the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance was organized in 2000, only the Mt Blue and Center Hill trails were on public land or protected.  Nonetheless, many people thought that Tumbledown Mountain was part of Mt Blue State Park.  Now, virtually all the Tumbledown range trails have been protected, and Mt Blue State Park has been significantly expanded.  Here's how it happened.

In late 1999 more than 90,000 acres in the region had been put on the market.  Nearly half of the land in Mexico, Dixfield, Carthage and Weld suddenly was for sale and several thousand acres of it were right next to Mt Blue State Park. 

Just prior to this, another 4,000 acres south of Tumbledown had been heavily cut and plans filed to split it into 40 acre lots.  Many people became concerned about what would happen to so much of the land in the area.  Some of the 90,000 acres had already been sold and were being heavily cut and resold in smaller parcels for houselots.

Some of the park's multi-use and ski trails depended on access to parts of this land, particularly in the Hedgehog Hill area, and it comprised a major part of park views.  People throughout the region and the state traditionally counted on access to the land for hiking, hunting and fishing, and its forests also provided a reliable timber base for the local economy.


Responding to these surprising – and some might say, shocking - developments, many area residents met in December 1999 to explore options for protecting Mt Blue State Park and the mountains of the Weld area from development and fragmentation.  In 2000 we organized the Tumbledown Conservation Alliance.*  We worked with the state to develop a conservation plan to protect critical areas and guarantee public access and the continuation of forestry activities.  The plan included a combination of fee purchase and purchase of conservation easements.  Fee purchases were made for critical areas, while the easements enable lands to remain in private ownership while guaranteeing public access, preventing subdivision and development, and promoting sound forest management.  

Shortly after TCA became organized, another 12,000 acres in Township 6 came up for sale.  The tops of Tumbledown and Little Jackson Mountains were in this parcel.  We hadn't started any too soon!

Since 1999, three phases of  land protection – the Mt Blue-Tumbledown Project – have been completed.  The Tumbledown Conservation Alliance, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land and the Maine Department of Conservation, helped raise
$8 million to protect 26,000 acres in this region.

The Land for Maine's Future Program and the United States Department of Agriculture's Forest Legacy Program provided significant public funding, but essential to the project were almost 1000 private donors, who generously gave nearly $600,000 in matching funds to help preserve favorite hikes and scenic vistas, to maintain the integrity of wildlife habitat and clear waters and to sustain the forest economy.

When TCA began ten years ago we said we would be here for the long run, not just helping to raise purchase money, but also for trail maintenance and management of the protected land. We have established an endowment fund to fulfill this goal.

Founders of the
Tumbledown Conservation Alliance included:
  • The Webb Lake Association
  • Foothills Land Conservancy
  • Friends of Maine State Parks
  • Western Maine Audubon Society
  • The Appalachian Mountain Club
  • Local and seasonal residents
  • Students from the University of Maine at Farmington

Many improvements have been possible since Tumbledown became public land.  Now you can find new parking lots, information kiosks, and even toilets at some trailheads.  The trails are well-marked, a ranger has a presence in the area, and the Maine Conservation Corps has spent weeks over several summers improving trails.  And TCA contributors and supporters helped make it happen.  

How you can get involved


tca address email address