(NREC) P. O. Box 1329, Greenville, ME 04441
The Natural Resource Education Center (NREC) is a nonprofit 501(C) (3) educational corporation with the mission of providing resource-based programming to visitors and residents of the state of Maine. Our first objective is to develop a facility in Greenville, Maine, which is the Historic Gateway to the North Woods. The facility will house orientation and interpretation services, educational exhibits, both on-site and off-site programs, interpretive trails, and events that explain and celebrate the unique natural and cultural heritage of the region. The area around Moosehead Lake epitomizes the traditional Maine working forest, rich in resources that have sustained both extractive and recreational use for more than a century. It is a land of trees, mountains, lakes, rivers and bogs, largely under private ownership. Yet it is sparsely developed and wealthy in natural and human treasures, full of stories we want to leave for future generations.
IN THE BEGINNING
Prior to World War II, the available forest resource was so extensive compared to public pressure wanting to use it that little conflict arose between landowners and forest users. Since World War II, however, because of changing management techniques and greater public awareness, conflicts between landowners and forest users have been steadily increasing.
Many solutions have been offered but most of those solutions have been self-serving to the special interest group offering the solution. The solutions have often failed, or will fail, because they do not have widespread appeal and usually only address part of the problem. In the meantime, some of the solutions put a lot of unnecessary pressure on “the working forest.”
As the frequency of the conflicts grew and their severity increased, most people agreed education was the answer. Landowners needed to be educated about the wants and rights of forest users. Forest users needed to learn the wants and rights of landowners. The big problem was very few people could agree on the path the education should take.
In the late 1980s, a lumber mill went out of business in the town of Greenville, putting 120 or so employees out of work. It could have been a major economic blow to the small town. Consequently, town officials commissioned a study to plot a course of action. The results of that study were two-fold. The study clearly showed, once again, the area has two major assets: forest products and tourism.
The question was, how best to combine the two?
The answer was, create a visitor center where any interested person could learn about all the natural resources of the North Woods.
In 1996, the Natural Resource Education Center at Moosehead was incorporated. A board of directors oversees the functions of the Center.
The Natural Resource Education Center of Maine will educate and inform the public about the North Woods’ past, present and future. The region represents the traditional Maine working forest in balance with environmental conservation, natural resources, recreation, its people and their way of life.
OUR GOALS and OBJECTIVES
1. To develop an expanded and diverse interpretive facility.
2. Orient visitors to Maine natural resources and resource-based economy.
3. Provide in-depth information on special natural resource-based experiences.
4. Provide educational experiences about the past, present and future of the region.
5. Show how forest products and recreation industries can co-exist in a sustainable and environmentally sound manner.
6. Provide a space where the future of Maine’s North Woods can be defined and promoted.
7. Entertain visitors and encourage them to stay longer.
8. Preserve the history of the region for the benefit of current and future generations.
9. Encourage stronger and improved relationships between the forest products and recreation industries.
10. Encourage stronger and improved relationships between landowners and forest users.
11. Provide a focus to strengthen the tourism economy in a manner that will protect the region and its quality of life.
12. Provide space that encourages increased cooperation and cost efficiency for the various state and local organizations that provide necessary visitor services.
13. Offer conference and meeting space in the Moosehead region to facilitate group business/recreational experiences.