skip navigation

Home > News > Island Landscapes

Summer 2008

Preserving Traditional Access to Northeast Creek

Many Island residents find Northeast Creek—Mount Desert Island’s largest estuary—a tranquil and remote setting despite its location minutes from downtown Bar Harbor. The Creek’s scenic collage of wetlands, woods and rolling farmland draws people at all seasons, from midwinter ice-skating and spring bird-watching to summer paddling and fall cranberry-picking.

A Mount Desert Island High School teacher, Bo Greene, has begun a tradition of cranberry-picking at Northeast Creek with National Honor Society students. After their fall outing to Northeast Creek, students make cranberry bread for the residents at Sonogee Estates nursing home—who they visit regularly as part of their community service commitment. “Most of the students have never seen the Creek or picked a wild cranberry,” Greene says. “The visit to Sonogee is a wonderful product of our bog experience, but it’s their exposure to the Creek and the cranberry bog that I hope will leave the biggest impression on them. My husband Craig, a botanist, knew and loved every plant in the Creek,” Greene adds, “and we had many wonderful fall visits filling baskets with red-ripe cranberries—until his death in 2003. Our son Will and I return each fall to pick berries: it gives a rhythm to our year, both reminding us of Craig and the stunning beauty of the place he loved so much.”

The canoe and kayak launch that most people use to reach Northeast Creek lies on a 2-acre parcel where the private landowners have graciously allowed traditional public access. Last year, they listed their residence and the adjoining undeveloped shoreline for sale and local residents feared that future owners might post the site and close off access.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust stepped in to secure the property earlier this summer and plans to convey the access point and undeveloped creek frontage to Acadia National Park. MCHT hopes to resell the home through the Island Housing Trust with restrictions to ensure the price remains affordable for year-round island residents as workforce housing. “We’re pleased to be advancing two goals of great importance to the island community—shore access and workforce housing,” notes MCHT Project Manager Brian Reilly. “Now there’s assured public access to a resource we’ve worked for more than two decades to protect.” In partnership with landowners and other organizations, MCHT has helped conserve more than 500 acres and 4 miles of frontage along Northeast Creek.

Stewards of the Land: Restoring Acadia Mountain

In 2006, a developer cut into the northern face of Acadia Mountain, a prominent ridgeline adjoining Acadia National Park. He installed several driveways and two large septic systems in anticipation of building nine condominiums. After selling one shorefront lot at the base of the mountain, the developer abandoned his plans and sold the remaining 26 acres to Friends of Acadia. In June, Friends of Acadia transferred the property to Maine Coast Heritage Trust for long-term stewardship.

“It’s wonderful having this land permanently protected,” notes Terry Towne, MCHT’s Regional Steward on Mount Desert Island, “but it’s going to take a considerable investment of time and money to restore its natural values and recreational potential. The site eroded severely because no control measures were put in place,” Towne explains. “They blasted into the mountain in several locations, leaving 15-foot headwalls with nothing below them. So much sediment washed off last winter it filled up 4-foot ditches.”

MCHT estimates the cost of site remediation, ongoing stewardship and taxes to be $320,000. The Trust’s first goal is to stabilize the site, preventing further erosion by crowning the driveways and septic fields, adding topsoil, and seeding the disturbed areas. Heavy equipment will be used to place boulders and riprap beneath exposed headwalls. Later, native shrubs and trees will be planted.

MCHT seeks donations to help Acadia Mountain. “This kind of stewardship work is not glamorous,” Towne acknowledges, “but it’s a critical step toward the place becoming a recreational asset and natural buffer to the adjoining Park lands. We hope people will help us bring back to health this prominent part of the mountain.”

Partners in Conservation

Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Friends of Acadia are helping launch a new statewide program called Contribute to Place in which tourism-related businesses invite Maine visitors to support local conservation efforts through small voluntary contributions. “Millions of visitors come to Maine each year and many would love to help preserve its natural beauty,” notes MCHT Project Manager Brian Reilly. “Now those visitors can add a small gift to their tab at participating lodgings, outfitters and restaurants—knowing their donation will go directly toward local land conservation. Each gift is modest, but the collective revenues generated can be significant”

“We’re excited to be one of five regions helping pilot Contribute to Place across Maine,” adds Stephanie Clement, Conservation Director at Friends of Acadia. “We have many generous and visionary businesses on Mount Desert Island that recognize how important sound land stewardship is to our economic future. Now these establishments can engage their guests and customers in supporting local conservation as well.”

Please visit www.mcht.org and www.friendsofacadia.org for updated lists of participating businesses. Contribute to Place programs are also launching this summer in Blue Hill, Rangeley, Belfast/Camden/Rockport, and communities in coastal Washington County.

Protecting Scenic Views & Public Access on Great Cranberry Island

In addition to serving as Mount Desert Island’s local land trust, Maine Coast Heritage Trust helps landowners on the Cranberry Isles advance their conservation goals. Several recent projects there demonstrate the breadth of public benefits these protected lands provide.

Late last year, a Great Cranberry Island landowner generously donated to MCHT a conservation easement preserving the scenic and ecological values of more than 2 miles of highly visible island shoreline. “This spectacular property represents a large part of the viewshed along ‘The Pool’ and from Islesford and ‘The Gut,’” notes MCHT Project Manager Bob DeForrest. “It’s an important wildlife sanctuary as well, with an active bald eagle nest and many migratory and resident species.” Consequently, the easement does not allow for public access—but island residents and visitors can enjoy knowing that this prominent island property will remain unspoiled.

Another property bordering “The Pool” has been protected by four siblings of the Donald family, whose roots on Great Cranberry Island date back to 1886. The family donated to MCHT a conservation easement on 10 acres bordering “The Pool,” and sold the Trust an adjoining 19-acre oceanfront parcel at a small fraction of its appraised value. That land borders 28 private acres on which MCHT holds a conservation easement. The Trust will maintain the wild character of the new preserve, while extending an existing woodland trail so that walkers can enjoy the expansive vistas and bold cobble shoreline along the property’s southern edge.

MCHT also worked with the Great Cranberry Isles Historical Society (GCIHS) and individual landowners to create a new trail behind Cranberry House (a museum, multipurpose cultural center and café recently built by GCIHS). GCIHS and Bruce Komusin, a neighboring private landowner, donated trail easements to MCHT so that people can enjoy a one-mile walk from the Cranberry House down to Western Way, gaining access to a conserved shorefront property owned by O.P. Jackson. “Right now, there aren’t many places on the island with guaranteed shore access,” explains Phil Whitney, First Vice President of GCIHS. “This trail will make it easy for island residents and visitors to enjoy a beautiful stretch of beach.”

Help Support Our Work

For nearly 40 years, Maine Coast Heritage Trust has served as the local land trust on Mount Desert Island and the Cranberry Isles, investing in the island’s future by protecting key natural lands. To maintain this work, the Trust relies on contributions from individuals who love the MDI area and recognize how vital conservation is to sustaining its special quality. We are grateful to those who already support our work and hope that you will share this newsletter with friends less familiar with the Trust. If you are not yet a member of MCHT, please use the enclosed envelope to mail in your contribution or donate to us online at www.mcht.org.

To receive information about ways to protect your property or to learn more about planned gifts, please contact our staff in Somesville at 244-5100.

MCHT Begins Building a “Green” Office in Mount Desert

With energy prices skyrocketing and much public discussion of carbon offsets and ecological footprints, “green building” is generating great interest these days. Maine Coast Heritage Trust shares the growing commitment to green building and is using strict environmental standards in planning construction of its new office along Route 102 in Mount Desert (situated near the village center). The building site sits above Babson Creek, on a property donated to MCHT by a private investor who purchased the land at auction in 2001.

MCHT worked with local architect Stewart Brecher to design an efficient, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified office, and a traditional-style barn (across the road on the west side of Route 102) that will be used for equipment storage. Both buildings will minimize energy and water use and draw on renewable power sources such as solar energy. The builder, Nickerson & O’Day, will use materials from local and environmentally responsible providers to the greatest extent possible. The new office will be set well back from the shore and will have a low profile so that it fits visually within the natural setting—a 35-acre preserve where people enjoy hiking and bird-watching.

Construction work begins this summer, following plans carefully designed to minimize any effects on Babson Creek. If you have questions about the project, please contact our Somesville office at 244-5100.