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A Future for Jones Marsh

Did you know that salt marshes are taking care of you?

They’re absorbing carbon dioxide from the air you breathe, curbing the pace of global warming and its side effects. When storms hit the Maine coast, they are at the front line, defending your home and community from damage and flooding. They are nurseries for the fish you eat, for species like crabs, clams, and lobsters your local economy runs on.

They are also in trouble.

Conservative estimates predict sea level will rise three to six feet over the next 100 years. On a year-to-year basis, that may be faster than salt marshes’ natural ability to adapt and reestablish themselves—and where they would reestablish themselves they will oftentimes encounter barriers. 

Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) has identified Maine’s most important marshes surrounded by undeveloped land. If we can conserve those lands today, marshes will have places to reestablish themselves tomorrow, keeping Maine’s fragile coastal ecosystems intact into the next century.

Small fish fill the streams meandering through the grasses, birds soar overhead plucking snacks out of the water, and deer bed down in the sheltered bog.

With generous donations and a $100,000 grant from North American Wetlands Conservation Act, MCHT is working to protect 30 acres with forested wetland and freshwater peatland adjacent to salt marsh at the head of Mount Desert Island—land that geologists and ecologists predict will be future salt marsh.

If you’ve ever driven along Route 3, you passed Jones Marsh and the bog in the distance, but you may have overlooked them (there is, after all, a view of Thomas Bay and MCHT’s lovely Thomas Island preserve on the other side of the road).

Look again.

This patchwork of habitats is teeming with life. Small fish fill the streams meandering through the grasses, birds soar overhead plucking snacks out of the water, and deer bed down in the sheltered bog.

“I see conservation of Jones Marsh as a great opportunity for people to learn about marsh migration, and to study the abundance of wildlife found here,” says MDI Project Manager Misha Mytar.

She’s also excited about an adjacent tract of land the salt marsh will never reach, which was part of the original 60-acre parcel.

“We’re always looking for the right balance between conservation and development, specifically workforce housing, which is an acute community issue on Mount Desert Island.”

Conservation Limited Development, LLC*, an LLC associated with MCHT, has offered to sell 30 excess acres upland from the marsh and bog to Island Housing Trust for a bargain price. Island Housing Trust, a local nonprofit advancing permanent workforce housing on Mount Desert Island, is now under option to buy the property.

“We’re always looking for the right balance between conservation and development, specifically workforce housing, which is an acute community issue on Mount Desert Island,” says Misha. “It’s pretty great when a single conservation project realizes so many different positive outcomes—from helping create affordable workforce housing to securing a future for Jones Marsh.”

To learn more about MCHT’s statewide Marshes for Tomorrow Initiative, visit mcht.org/marshesfortomorrow

* Conservation Limited Development, LLC (CLD) is an LLC associated with Maine Coast Heritage Trust. CLD can step in at times when MCHT or partners may not be able to—for example to achieve dual conservation and development outcomes or when a property must be purchased quickly and conservation outcomes are not fully planned or certain.