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Summer 2006

Protecting the Manset Shore

Three decades ago, sisters Lin Clayberg and Lanie Dickel inherited 17 acres of woods and meadows bordering Western Way. They had spent every summer of their childhood since 1937 on this beautiful Manset land-roaming the woods, gathering blueberries, and hiking a network of trails built by their father, Frank W. Ramseyer, Jr.. As co-owners, Clayberg and Dickel continued visiting the property with their families as often as they could, sharing use of the property’s single cottage.

When their children were grown, Clayberg and Dickel began thinking about the future of their land, known in their family as “Elderling.” “We wanted to get the hard work of planning done before the kids inherited the property,” Dickel observes. “We felt we should retain some land for future building (in case our families should ever decide that sharing the cottage wasn’t feasible), but we wanted to keep the woods and shore as an undeveloped ‘commons’ area.” Clayberg echoes that vision: “We didn’t want to see the woods developed but left as it was when we were kids,” she reflects. “Furthermore, taking the ‘commons’ off the table in terms of potential development meant that it could not become a bone of contention in the future.”

After researching various conservation methods, Clayberg and Dickel decided to enter into a conservation easement with Maine Coast Heritage Trust. This voluntary agreement met their needs well, allowing them to protect key portions of their land while retaining it in family ownership. Their five grown children all tracked the easement planning process via e-mail as the sisters worked with MCHT project manager Brian Reilly. Four of their children then chose to become co-owners of the property. “By that point, they understood the benefits of conservation and willingly accepted the resulting devaluation of the property,” Clayberg reflects. “And as co-donors of the easement, they were able to share in the charitable tax benefits.”

The Elderling easement will keep “forever wild” 8 acres of woodland and 3 acres of marsh and pond bordering the seawall. The family kept out of the easement 6 remaining acres near Seawall Road to allow for potential future construction. “The conservation agreement preserves a lovely array of freshwater habitats, including a stream and pond, and a long stretch of unbroken shoreline along Western Way,” Reilly observes. “This family shared a strong commitment to protecting their beautiful property, and the easement helped them accomplish that vision.”

Saving a Farm for Hard Luck Horses

Joan Sullivan, a sixth-generation resident of Mount Desert Island, recalls how as a child “I’d pass by this old farm on Crooked Road and think ‘some day, I’d love to have a horse on that property.’” That vision came to pass six years ago when she began boarding her horse at the farm, and then started managing the stable. The owners offered to sell the 34-acre property but the acquisition process was protracted and Sullivan and her partner David Andrews ultimately could not afford to take on the property without reducing its market value. By completing a conservation agreement with Maine Coast Heritage Trust, they were able to realize their dream and protect a prominent parcel of farmland in Bar Harbor’s rural Emery District. “We couldn’t have closed on this property without Maine Coast Heritage Trust,” Sullivan notes, “and it would have broken my heart to see this place become a housing development. I love this property: it’s an exceptional, irreplaceable piece of land.”

The conservation agreement ensures that the property’s fields will remain undeveloped, along with 15 acres of woods that border Acadia National Park. Those fields are now home to 24 horses that Sullivan and Andrews have rescued—animals that were neglected, abused, malnourished or beset by health or behavioral problems. “Our goal is to get them stable and safe,” Sullivan explains, a process that can take at least a year for each horse. Most of the rehabilitated horses can then return to work in the riding lessons and trail rides that Sullivan and Andrews offer at Eochaidh Stables.

“We feel overwhelmed and shorthanded much of the time,” Sullivan concedes, trying to care for so many horses and restore the farm, “but we’re so glad to be here. This land has qualities that cannot be lost, and now they won’t be.”

Jonathan Stein 1944-2006

Maine Coast Heritage Trust lost a devoted friend with the death this spring of Jonathan Stein, a long-time summer resident of Somesville. Jon and his sister Judith Goldstein first collaborated with MCHT 14 years ago to prepare a conservation easement protecting their property bordering Somes Pond. “They were among the first landowners around the Pond to permanently conserve their shorefront, and their foresight helped inspire other landowners to follow suit,” notes David MacDonald, MCHT’s Director of Land Protection. In 2005, the last key piece of unprotected frontage along the Pond was secured—preserving forever the integrity of this scenic gem.

Stein also made a major gift in 2000 toward MCHT’s acquisition of the Manset Fields Preserve, a meadow with spectacular views overlooking the Western Way in Manset. “I’ve taken enormous pleasure from that spot,” Jon observed at the time of his gift, “and I wanted others to share in that joy.”

Stein’s support for MCHT did not end when he died unexpectedly in a helicopter crash. Acting with his typical foresight and generosity, Jon had established a substantial bequest to the Trust. He didn’t want to leave to chance the future of Maine’s spectacular coastline. When he set up his bequest to MCHT six years ago, Jon said, “The older I get, the more I realize we must take affirmative steps to ensure that these wonderful treasures are protected.”

Partnership Effort Protects Thomas Island

Crossing the causeway to Mount Desert Island, few visitors or residents may know the name of Thomas Island—the prominent 65-acre island east of Thompson Island in Mt. Desert Narrows. Yet many passersby value the unbroken shores of this wooded landmark that marks the gateway to MDI. This island will remain undeveloped, thanks to a collaborative conservation effort coordinated by Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

The project began with the initiative of Dr. Frank Moya, who wanted to see the island he had owned for a decade conserved. “Protecting Thomas Island was always in the back of my mind,” reflects Dr. Moya. “I wanted to see it remain unspoiled in perpetuity.” Despite having another offer on the property, Dr. Moya agreed to sell the property to MCHT for 60 percent of its appraised value.

His gift of the remaining value was used as a match for a National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant, which was secured due to the island’s high wildlife value. Thomas Island supports songbirds and raptors, and is surrounded by 57 acres of intertidal wetlands that provide prime habitat for black ducks, common eiders and sandpipers.

Ducks Unlimited made a small contribution toward the island’s protection as well, bringing MCHT’s final cash cost to just $17,000. “We helped put the funding pieces together for this acquisition, partnering with the State in completing grant applications,” says Brian Reilly, MCHT project manager. “But it was federal support and the generosity of the landowner that really made this project possible. So often, the success of conservation efforts like this one hinges on the power of partnership!”

Being a Considerate Island Visitor

Maine Coast Heritage Trust owns numerous island preserves in the Mount Desert Island region, many of which allow for day use (and in some instances camping). Being readily accessible by boat, these settings have a unique set of management challenges—from litter and pet waste to cut vegetation.

“Our preserves are not managed as intensively as state parks,” notes Terry Towne, a Regional Steward for MCHT. “Visitors won’t find outhouses, trash cans or established fire rings awaiting them. They need to plan on bringing firewood with them and carrying out all their trash and waste. We depend on visitors to help us care for these islands,” Towne adds, “leaving the place looking as wild and beautiful as when they arrived.”

In addition to following MCHT’s posted guidelines for use, visitors can help to keep island preserves attractive by adopting these practices:

  • Leave what you find—don’t carry off rocks, vegetation or other mementos;
  • Be considerate of other visitors; and
  • Respect the wildlife.

GUIDELINES FOR USE

  • Carry out all trash (including human and pet waste, and toilet paper).
  • Keep pets under control.
  • Permits are required for any fire (by Maine law). Build fires only below the high-tide line. Do not cut or break tree limbs, dead or alive. Leave no fire unattended.
  • Camping is limited to a 2-day stay at established sites. Groups larger than six, or commercial users should contact MCHT for advance permission.
  • Please respect the privacy of those who own land abutting the Trust’s preserves.

Help Support Land Protection on Mount Desert Island

To conserve key lands in the Mount Desert Island region, Maine Coast Heritage Trust relies on far-sighted landowners willing to donate (or sell below market value) easements and lands that merit long-term protection. The Trust also relies on monetary donations, which help cover the staff time that each land project requires. MCHT has a newly updated website (www.mcht.org) that provides information for those who would like to make a donation online supporting the Trust’s work, and for those landowners considering conservation options. If you prefer to mail in your tax-deductible contribution, please send it to Maine Coast Heritage Trust, P.O. Box 669, Mt. Desert, ME 04660. To discuss land donations, planned giving or other charitable gifts, please contact our staff in Somesville at 244-5100.