Protecting a Shorebird Haven
One of the island's most valuable settings for shorebirds may soon be permanently protected. The landowner, Mrs. Roscoe C. (Paula) Ingalls, Jr. is working with Maine Coast Heritage Trust to keep forever wild 105 acres and nearly two miles of unfragmented shoreline in Bernard. MCHT holds an option to purchase a conservation easement on the Ingalls property, which includes all of Mitchell Marsh—the only site on Mount Desert Island (MDI) classified by the State as significant shorebird habitat. The Trust is working to raise funds to complete this project by early next year.
"The Ingalls family has taken good care of this remote and beautiful stretch of shorefront for generations," notes Brian Reilly, MCHT's project manager for MDI. "They could have gotten top dollar by selling off houselots, but they're strongly committed to keeping this shoreline wild and unfragmented." Three generations of the family have grown up enjoying the property's beaches, marshlands and abundant wildlife. "It's been in our family since 1926 and means everything to us," says Mrs. Ingalls, who lives on the land five months a year. She seeks to ensure that it remains an unspoiled treasure, a small but significant part of a greater whole. "This earth is an incredible place," she reflects. "We should help nature along, not tear it apart."
The "Ingallshore" property represents the largest private unprotected tract along the entire southern half of MDI's western side. "The marsh supports wading birds, shorebirds and waterfowl," notes Reilly, "and the woods offer an unfragmented block of wildlife habitat." If finalized, the easement will protect the entirety of Mitchell Marsh and a portion of Mitchell Cove Marsh (see aerial image), which adjoins another private parcel already under easement to Acadia National Park. The family is retaining the right to build in a small area surrounding the original farm house, which is set back 600 feet from the shore.
The property will remain in private ownership, and public access will be granted (once the easement is sold) only to a rocky beach at the parcel's north-western end. "Much of this marshy shoreline is best left to the birds and animals," observes Reilly, "and we want to ensure that any public use respects the wildlife and the landowner's privacy."
MCHT hopes to raise sufficient funds to complete the easement purchase early in 2008. The Trust will apply for a federal wetlands grant, but will rely on community members to contribute substantial matching funds. Contact Brian Reilly at the Trust (244-5100) to learn how you can help.
Stewards of the Land:
Postmortem Easement Gift Secures Beech Hill Fields
Nine acres of scenic blueberry fields bordering Beech Hill Road in Mount Desert will remain undeveloped, thanks to the recent donation of a conservation easement. This unusual easement was given by the estate of Gertrude L. McCue, a Mount Desert summer resident who had owned land near Beech Mountain and Beech Hill Farm.
For the McCue family, this little known conservation technique of postmortem easements enabled Mrs. McCue's children to fulfill a vision their mother had long held. "Our mother wanted these fields to remain open, but due to the challenges of negotiating the details with all interested parties, we were unable to finalize the easement during her lifetime," her son Bill McCue explains. "In settling her estate, we found that donating an easement postmortem made financial sense for us while honoring her wishes for the land. The finite amount of time available to donate the easement and realize its benefits after our mother's death brought a certain clarity to the situation, which had been lacking when there was no deadline."
The McCue estate easement complements several other conservation projects that MCHT has completed along Beech Hill Road—totaling 101 acres.
For more information about this conservation option, please contact MCHT at 244-5100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conserving Bartlett Narrows
Bartlett Island, which spans more than 2,000 acres, is one of the largest privately held islands along the coast of Maine. Lying just off the western shore of Mount Desert Island, it is a prominent landmark in Blue Hill Bay. The vast majority of this impressive island will remain undeveloped, thanks to a conservation easement that its owner, David Rockefeller, recently donated to MCHT. Any future residences will be clustered in a limited area near the existing farm. The recent agreement augments one that Mr. Rockefeller previously donated to the Town of Mt. Desert.
Two other projects in the vicinity complement this major achievement, enhancing the scenic and ecological values of the passage between Bartlett Island and Pretty Marsh known as Bartlett Narrows. Along the MDI shore of the Narrows, a family generously donated an easement protecting a prominent point of land at the southern end of Bartlett Harbor. This property helps to preserve views from the public boat launch in the Narrows.
MCHT was honored with the gift of an entire island that lies at the south end of Bartlett Narrows. Folly Island is a brushy, 7-acre knoll that affords beautiful views over Blue Hill Bay. Sylvia Erhart and the late Julia Coleman, whose grandfather acquired the island in 1943, kept the island wild and allowed those travelling the Maine Island Trail to enjoy daytime use of it. In reviewing their estate plans and goals for the island's future, the sisters decided to give the island to Maine Coast Heritage Trust. MCHT will transfer a conservation easement on Folly Island to Acadia National Park as a backup layer of protection, and will continue permitting low-impact, daytime use.
Conserving Lands within Park Boundaries
Over the past year, Maine Coast Heritage Trust has helped facilitate protection of six properties that will be held by Acadia National Park—all of them helping to complete the Park boundary (Boundary legislation passed in 1986 identifies roughly 175 additional parcels that the Park may obtain from willing landowners to complete its boundary). Two of these projects help protect the scenic and ecological values of Bass Harbor Marsh, while others help buffer Park land in Hull's Cove, Seal Harbor and Southwest Harbor. MCHT took a lead role in negotiating the gift to Acadia National Park of a valuable 12-acre wetland along Northeast Creek, and donated all the legal work necessary to complete that transaction.
"The Park's acquisition process can often take up to 18 months," notes MCHT project manager Brian Reilly, "and landowners don't always want to wait that long. In many instances, we're able to step in and pre-acquire important lands for later transfer to the Park. Help from a private foundation last year helped us to secure options to purchase five properties."
Now MCHT is working closely with Friends of Acadia and Acadia National Park to raise public awareness about the importance of completing the Park boundary through voluntary land conservation projects.
Help Support Land Protection on Mount Desert Island
To protect treasured lands around Mount Desert Island and beyond, Maine Coast Heritage Trust depends upon contributions from individuals who love the coast and recognize how vital conservation is to sustaining its special quality for future generations. Please become a member by donating online at www.mcht.org or using the enclosed envelope to mail in your contribution. We are grateful to all those who already support our land conserv- ation efforts. If you're already a member, we hope you will consider sharing this newsletter and envelope with a friend.
To receive more information about ways to protect your own property or to learn more about planned gifts, please contact our staff in Somesville at 244-5100.
Maine Coast Heritage Trust Plans New Somesville Office
MCHT plans to establish a new office and public preserve on a 35-acre parcel it owns along Route 102 near Babson Creek. "We've had an office on Mount Desert Island ever since MCHT was founded 37 years ago," notes MCHT's project manager for MDI, Brian Reilly. "Now we have an opportunity to construct an environmentally sensitive office next to a beautiful preserve where people can enjoy hiking and birdwatching. It should help strengthen our ties to the local community."
The Babson Creek property was donated to MCHT by a group of conservation investors who purchased the land at auction in 2001 from the estate of Eugene Merchant. The Trust removed an old house situated on the east side of the road which was in disrepair (having been unoccupied for decades.) "Initially, we considered restoring or moving the farmhouse, but the structure was so far gone that it just was not practical," says Reilly. "Instead, we worked with local builders and the MDI Historical Society to salvage architectural elements for reuse."
The new building will be constructed near the site of the former house, but slightly farther back from the road. The Town planning board approved the project this spring, and MCHT plans to break ground later this year.