Land Conservation


There is a direct link between how much of a watershed is forested and the quality of water in the lakes and streams within it. Forests act like natural filters and produce clean, clear water. The Sebago Lake watershed is more than 80% forested which is one of the reasons why lake water quality is so great. One of the most effective ways to keep a lake clean is to protect the surrounding forests from development. PWD works with land conservation partners to help landowners conserve forested land. This partnership benefits our customers and all other users of the lake.


Our Land Conservation Program

PWD helps local land trusts conserve land in the watershed by providing funding for eligible projects. We have contributed financially to transactions that protected watershed forests from development since 2000. By 2013, we formalized our Watershed Land Conservation Program through which we evaluate projects for their water quality value to determine a recommended funding level for each conservation project, not to exceed 25% of the appraised value of the land or easement. Since 2000, PWD has helped protect nearly 15,000 acres of valuable forestland. The map below shows all of the conserved land in the watershed. The properties in pink are ones that were conserved with financial support from PWD. For more information contact


Our Land Conservation Program: Explore a StoryMap: Forever Forests for Sebago Lake

Use StoryMap, an interactive mapping tool, to learn about the forests PWD helped conserve by providing financial support. You can see where these forever forests are in relation to Sebago Lake, learn each unique conservation story, and see how important land trust partnerships are to protecting Sebago Lake’s water quality. In addition to providing water quality protection, these forests can offer additional benefits like hiking trails, water access, and hunting. Links to information on public access are included. Click on the image to start exploring!

Sebago Clean Waters

The District is a founding member of Sebago Clean Waters, a coalition of eleven organizations. Sebago Clean Waters’ mission is to protect water quality, community well-being, a vibrant economy, and fish and wildlife habitat in the Sebago watershed through voluntary forestland conservation. To find out how you can support SCW’s efforts, visit

Protecting forestland from development is an important tool to protect water quality, but anyone can take action to help protect Sebago Lake’s watershed. Find out more in PWD’s “Protecting Your Woods and Waters” guide.


NRCS Grant Award

The District’s decades-long effort to help individuals and land trusts conserve forests in the Sebago Lake watershed received a huge boost in 2020 when the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) awarded PWD and the Sebago Clean Waters partnership an $8 million grant. Combined with local and state match dollars, this generous grant will enable SCW to conserve an additional 10,000 acres of forests in the next 5 years.

The NRCS grant also includes funding for other water-related work that will help maintain the water quality of Sebago Lake and other watershed lakes and streams including:

  • removal of invasive aquatic plants
  • replacement of culverts that restrict fish passage and water flows
  • restoration of a contaminated property along the banks of the Crooked River
  • development of forest management plans
  • implementation of forest practices that minimize impacts of tree harvesting on water quality

Find more information about the NRCS grant program here.