To view the full article, click here.
How Land Trusts Are Conserving Maine’s Coastal Features
Maine’s coast is a patchwork of critical ecosystems and community resources. Here are what Maine land trusts are doing to preserve them.
Maine’s stunning coast has inspired painters and poets, but today, most of it is privately owned and off-limits. Land trusts work to make more scenic vistas accessible to all.
❯❯ The fruits of that work include Bog Brook Cove, a 1,770-acre preserve in the down east towns of Cutler and Trescott. Maine Coast Heritage Trust assembled the preserve over 30 years and built trails leading to secluded beaches, granite outcrops, and spectacular lookouts, plus a universally accessible path accommodating wheelchairs and strollers.
In a state that’s 95 percent forested, meadows offer critical habitat for songbirds like bobolinks, and they host wildflowers that attract pollinators like hummingbirds and bumblebees.
❯❯ Meadows are a key feature of preserves like Woodward Point, an 82-acre parcel on the New Meadows River that MCHT and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust conserved in 2019.
Forests play a key role in mitigating climate change, as trees pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and provide habitat for wildlife like moose, bears, and deer.
❯❯ Among other woodland conservation projects, MCHT, Frenchman Bay Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and other groups have conserved more than 60,000 forested acres between Schoodic Mountain and the Schoodic Peninsula, ensuring that this important ecosystem remains protected forever.
As development pressures intensify, land trusts are working to protect working waterfronts, the economic lifeblood of many coastal communities.
❯❯ In Lubec, MCHT conserved an 11-acre waterfront parcel protecting access to one of the only viable boat launches between Cutler and Lubec. The land trust added a new ramp and parking lot and made other improvements to create safer, sustainable access for commercial fishermen and recreational boaters.
Maine has more than 2,400 coastal islands, more than any state except Alaska, and they are an iconic part of the state’s landscape, as well as important habitat for seabirds.
❯❯ MCHT has helped conserve more than 330 islands, and is now working to protect Little Whaleboat Island, one of the last undeveloped islands in Casco Bay.
As development threatens Maine’s saltwater farms, land trusts are working to sustain local agriculture.
❯❯ MCHT and Maine Farmland Trust bought Rockport’s Aldermere Farm in 1991 and are ensuring that a century-old legacy of cattle farming continues there. MCHT also maintains community gardens on other preserves, including Erickson Fields in Rockport, as well as Stone Barn Farm, Babson Creek, and Kelley Farm preserves, which are on Mount Desert Island.
Marshes provide habitat where clams feed, nurse their young, and find shelter from predators. As sea levels rise, marshes absorb water like a sponge, buffer storm surges, and protect against flooding.
❯❯ MCHT, Royal River Conservation Trust, and Freeport Conservation Trust are partnering to conserve an 82-acre marsh on the Cousins River in Yarmouth. It’s one of dozens of marsh-preservation projects MCHT has worked on along the coast.