Maine: An Encyclopedia
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Public Reserved Lands

“Maine’s “Public Reserve Lands” have a unique history. Separate from the state park system and Baxter State Park, and from more recent purchases under the “Land for Maine’s Future” program, these lands have their origin in the “public lots” that were held out from survey township lands originally sold or granted by Massachusetts, and after 1820 by the State of Maine.

Although title to the public lots was reserved to the state by law, many of them were never assigned an actual survey location. Their ownership status in the remaining unorganized territories was uncertain for many years, until litigation in the 1970s resolved the issue in the State’s favor. Afterwards, the State and Maine’s larger landowners negotiated a number of agreements under which the public reserve lots were “located” and consolidated into larger parcels that were formally re-conveyed to the State.”

“Maine’ public lots were originally reserved from conveyances of townships of public domain and were held by the state for the benefit of schools in the towns which would or could someday be created among the unorganized townships of the state.” [Schepps]

Some were later merged and swapped for new, surveyed, lots to be retained by the state.  Others that were clearly identified still exist as “original public lots.”  These are included in the Maine Public Reserved Lands program, which manages these lots in the public interest.

Additional resources

Schepps, Lee M. “Maine’s Public Lots: The Emergence of a Public Trust.” 26 Me. L. Rev. 217 (1974) at http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/maine26&div=14&id=&page= (accessed February 11, 2012)

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