Introducing MCHT’s Newest, Largest Preserve: Rocky Lake
Rocky Lake is so remote you can skate across its frozen surface for miles without catching a glimpse of human life. As the sun rose pink on a cold, clear day last January, Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s downeast project manager Jacob van de Sande made that frigid trip, carving tracks along Rocky Lake’s shoreline edged in spruce and fir.
Thanks to generous donors, as of March 29, 2,352 acres of this dense forest and over six miles of shoreline is now permanently protected and makes up MCHT’s newest, largest preserve.
Situated between Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge and the Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land, protection of this land creates a wildlife corridor. It is also a critical piece of a larger MCHT Initiative to restore the Orange River watershed and rejuvenate once-abundant river herring populations—an important first step toward bringing ground fishing and jobs back to the area.
This spring, MCHT will be conducting a natural resource inventory and forest management plan for the property and will gather input from the local community to develop an overall management plan. Future uses of the property and the timing for formal opening to the public will be determined later in 2017. “Currently there is no signage or facilities ready for use, and there are a number of gates on the property,” Says Melissa Lee, MCHT’s Regional Land Steward. “We look forward to working with neighbors and area residents to gather input and take the necessary steps to make this new public preserve a real community asset.”
For his part, Tim Beal of nearby Marion Township is happy MCHT is, “keeping Rocky Lake in that wild state.” Beal knows and loves this land, swims and canoes on the lake and occasionally checks up on the brook trout population. “I am looking forward to the work the land trust will do to help preserve the remote feel of the area,” he says. “And also hopefully get more people out on the water with canoes and kayaks.”
This project would not have been possible without The Conservation Fund, which secured the property in June 2015 to give MCHT time to raise the necessary funds to acquire and permanently protect the property. While the ice thaws and the forest greens in the coming months, MCHT will be raising funds to improve access to and care for the property over time—including a $50,000 matching challenge offered by the J.A. Woollam Foundation to help reach the remaining funding goal of $325,000. For more information on how to help, contact MCHT at (207) 729-7366 or visit www.mcht.org.
Conservation of Rocky Lake was possible thanks to the support of many generous individuals and from Butler Conservation Fund, Richard King Mellon Foundation, Open Space Institute Land Trust, J.A. Woollam Foundation, Sam Shine Foundation, and Louise H. & David S. Ingalls Foundation, and Manomet (through a grant from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation awarded to the Downeast Fisheries Partnership).