North Maine Woods

Ki-Jo Mary Multiple Use Forest

whatiskijocollage copy Welcome to a unique area of North America - the KI Jo-Mary Multiple Use Management Forest. The private landowners cooperating in this program request that you read the following information. These guidelines are for your safety and will also provide for continued high quality forest resource management and recreational use planning. All rules and regulations are in effect from early May to November.

What is the KI Jo-Mary Forest?

It is a region of approximately 175,000 acres of privately owned, commercial forest, located between Millinocket, Greenville and Brownville. Included within its boundaries are over 30 miles of the Appalachian Trail, the Gulf Hagas Reserve, the Hermitage, the east and west branches of the Pleasant River, White Brook, more than 50 lakes and ponds and over 100 miles of brooks, streams and rivers.

Much of this forestland was first purchased in the early part of the 19th century. Following the Missouri Compromise, both Maine and Massachusetts were land rich and dollar poor. In Maine, this wild, forested land was usually sold a township at a time. Even though prices were low, purchasing 36 square miles of land, sight unseen, was as much of a gamble then as it would be today. It was, therefore, not unusual for several investors to pool their resources to purchase the land. This type of joint ownership was (and still is) known as common, undivided interest and means each owner owns a percentage of each acre, rather than wholly owning certain acres, in the township. Costs of ownership and management activities were paid from gross income from timber sales. Profits were then divided among owners, according to their percentage of ownership. This unique ownership pattern persisted throughout most of Maine until very recently. The complications of modern tax and anti-trust laws have caused most forest landowners to trade their common, undivided interests for full title. Recent publicity regarding sales of vast forested tracts to developers has caused much public concern in the Northeast. In reality, ownership of most forestland simply changes to another forest landowner - sometimes through sale, but more often through trade.

It is an organization, KI Jo-Mary, Inc., a consortium of landowners, formed in 1986 to cooperatively address rapidly increasing public demand for recreation opportunities in the KI Jo-Mary Forest.

With the cessation of river drives and expansion of logging road networks, areas formerly accessible only by foot, wagon or water were opened to a greater portion of outdoor recreationists. At the same time, many Americans found themselves with more leisure time in which to enjoy the great outdoors. Conflicts between users became more prevalent. Outdoors people found “crowds" in their favorite, solitary places; the quality of the backwoods experience diminished. The KI Jo-Mary landowners recognized the need to provide better recreation facilities to accommodate the growing demand and to conserve the quality of the outdoor experience.

KI Jo-Mary, Inc. contracts with North Maine Woods, Inc., a professional forest recreation management company, to manage recreation in the KI Jo-Mary Forest. NMW’s extensive experience managing outdoor recreation in the working forests of Northern Maine fits well with KI Jo-Mary, Inc.’s management objectives. The KI Jo-Mary, Inc. Directors, who represents the landowners, set fees and policies regarding use of the area. North Maine Woods, Inc. implements these policies. User fees offset the costs of checkpoint operations and campsite development and maintenance.

It is a working forest, which makes it different from a wilderness area or a State Park. Recreational facilities are limited and you won’t see rangers, water or power hook-ups, gas stations, or tow trucks. All roads and bridges in the KI Jo-Mary Forest are maintained primarily for forest management activities. Trucks have the right of way - always. Watch for trucks and yield. Never block any road, even if it appears abandoned, and do not park within 150’ of bridges.

Timber is harvested here, as it has been for generations. It is transported over the privately built and maintained road network to markets that support the economies in communities throughout Maine. Several thousand Maine citizens grow, harvest, mill and process timber taken from the KI Jo-Mary Forest into products sold all over the world. Overall, forest based industries in Maine contribute 12% of employment, nearly $1 billion in payroll, and over $8 billion of the state’s economic activity. Hundreds of service industries support the forest products industry, providing additional economic contributions.

During the past century, softwood harvest supported timber needs during the times of river drives on the tributaries of the Pleasant River and Jo-Mary Lakes. Mountainsides around KI were cleared of hardwood to make charcoal to fuel the iron works. Yellow birch veneer was harvested during World War 11 to build airplanes undetectable by radar. Looking over the forest today, one can easily see that it is renewable. With special consideration for sensitive areas and application of advanced silvicultural techniques, the same forest will continue to provide the forest resources we often take for granted.

It is a spirit, past and present. Man and nature meet here. People, who make their living in the forest and those who come to relax, love this area for its rich history, its natural bounty, and its serene beauty. Landowners, both corporate and family, are working with Maine’s natural resource agencies, sporting camp owners, the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, North Maine Woods, Inc., and the users themselves to resolve current problems and plan for the future. Together, they take game, timber, and great pleasure from this region, yet the spirit of cooperation and mutual concern for the future assures it will not be any less tomorrow that it is today.