Mainers are lucky to have North Maine Woods

I don’t know of another state where 3.5 million contiguous acres of private land is open to the public for all sorts of outdoor fun.

Mainers are very lucky to have North Maine Woods which was started 48 years ago. At that time there were 19 landowners and managers. Today the 3.5 million acres have 35 owners. Ownership is broken down this way:

39% family groups

33% corporations

17% institutional investors

5% conservation groups

6% state of Maine.

Al Cowperthwaite does a great job leading the North Maine Woods management group which includes four year-round managers and 45 seasonal staff.

In 2018, 143,944 people enjoyed the North Maine Woods. That is a lot of people but use has significantly declined in recent years. In 2009, 172,886 people visited North Main words. The 2018 total was the lowest in 10 years.

Here’s how those users enjoyed the woods last year.

Camping 19,374 13.5%

fishing 11,675 8.1%

hunting 38,033 26.4%

canoeing 6,566 4.6%

hiking 2,026 1.4%

guiding 391 .3%

visiting 54,998 38.2%

other 10,881 7.6%.

If you’ve never been to North Maine Woods, I urge you to plan an adventure there this year.

Check out their website:, and give them a call: 207-435-6213.




George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.