skip navigation

January 25, 2006

A Piece of Deer Isle's History and Shoreline is Conserved

Deer Isle. On January 17th, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT), a statewide land conservation organization, purchased a 22-acre shorefront property known as Scott's Landing at the head of Deer Isle. The acquisition was completed in partnership with the local Island Heritage Trust (IHT) and will protect public access to the shore and scenic views of the "gateway" to Deer Isle.

This property served as a historic ferry landing for Eggemoggin Reach crossings to the island before the Deer Isle bridge was built in 1939. By conserving this site and making it open to the public, people will be able to enjoy walking, picnicking and beachcombing there. "This property was important not only from a Deer Isle history and character perspective, but also to a lot of people outside of the community because it is so scenic and the views from this land are striking" explains Ciona Ulbrich, Project Manager at MCHT.

"With its clear vista out over the Reach, this field provides one with a glimpse of what the island once looked like," remarked IHT Trustee and local historian Bill Haviland, "before its many farms were abandoned and their open acres reverted to the woodlands that have come to dominate the coastline."

This purchase comes after three years of Island Heritage Trust working with Maine Coast Heritage Trust to find a way to secure this property. The property went on the open market in 2003, and both land trusts tried to work out how it would be possible to save the shoreline from being developed. The sellers needed compensation for the property, but were hopeful that they could find a way to work with the land trusts.

Sellers Nathan and Ellen Pitts were pleased with the eventual outcome. "My mother and grandmother loved the family homestead deeply, as both grew up and lived there," said Nathan Pitts, "I am pleased that it will be kept as they knew it forever." Ellen Pitts agreed, adding, "Leaving this piece of history and beauty in its natural state under the protection of the land trusts is a great tribute to our family ancestors."

Diane Walker, President of IHT, says that the project benefited from the partnership that drew on the combined strengths of the local and statewide organizations: "IHT and MCHT have been full partners working toward the goal of acquiring this remarkable property for the benefit of islanders now and for generations yet to come," Walker commented. "We now have the opportunity to plan for its recreational use, including walks, picnics, and of course water access. We will manage this historic and beautiful property with the care and respect it deserves."

Maine Coast Heritage Trust plans to transfer the property to Island Heritage Trust in the coming months. In the meantime, MCHT and IHT will be working to raise stewardship funds to ensure responsible management of the property over time. The two trusts will also explore the strategy of selling a small road-front portion of the property well back from the shore for residential use as a way to generate stewardship funding and address local concerns that some of the land remain on the tax rolls, generating property tax revenue for the town.

A full subdivision and build-out at Scott's Landing would have meant more taxable lots, however it would also have required additional town services, and the land would have provided no public access. In an era of disappearing public access to the water, MCHT and IHT hope that these special places and access opportunities will be considered valuable benefits to the town.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust is a statewide conservation organization dedicated to protecting land that is essential to the character of Maine, its coastline and islands in particular. Since 1970, more than 121,000 acres and 258 entire coastal islands have been permanently protected. For more information, contact Rich Knox, Director of Communications and Public Policy 207-729-7366, or visit www.mcht.org.

Island Heritage Trust is a local land trust that has served Deer Isle, Stonington and surrounding islands since 1987. Other properties owned by IHT, that all allow public access, include 467 acres and 7.9 miles of shorefront. For more information, contact Mac Herrling at (207) 348-2455.

Contact

-David MacDonald, Director of Land Protection, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (207) 244-5100 -Mac Herrling or Diane Walker, Island Heritage Trust (207) 348-2455

« Coastal Land Protection Efforts Accelerate | Main | Thomas Island Conserved »