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Summer 2010

Working to Conserve Kitteredge Brook Forest

Maine Coast Heritage Trust has been in discussions for years with one of MDI's largest landowners regarding the fate of a 566-acre tract of woods and wetlands in the heart of our island. Centrally located between the MDI High School, Acadia National Park, and the village centers of Town Hill and Somesville, this pristine forest provides many benefits to our communities, from wildlife habitat to groundwater recharge and neighborhood trails.

The owner, Shep Harris, has generously offered MCHT the option to acquire the most ecologically sensitive portions of his property for less than half the market value, while retaining 50 acres planned for residential development. To complete the purchase, MCHT must receive sufficient grant funds and community support within the coming year. "This is a remarkable opportunity to save the last large tract of its kind on MDI," observes MCHT project manager Brian Reilly. "We're pleased to be working with Shep on this important effort to balance conservation and development."

Stretching between Route 102 and Norway Drive, the forest is defined by Kitteredge Brook, the island's longest, unprotected and unimpeded stream, which feeds Babson Creek and serves as the headwaters for Somes Sound. Valuable wetlands and woodlands support waterfowl and forest interior birds (such as warblers, tanagers and thrushes), whose populations are declining due to increasing forest fragmentation. Kitteredge Brook Forest also offers promise of a network of recreational trails linking residential neighborhoods with the high school and other conserved lands--a concept that has already won broad community support.

The Trust is applying for a federal wetland protection grant to help fund the purchase, but will rely on community members to contribute substantial matching funds. Contact Brian Reilly at 244-5100 to learn how you can help.

Stewards of the Land: Students Outdoors

On Mount Desert Island as elsewhere, the landscape of childhood has changed--with children spending less time outdoors in free play or exploration. Young people now participate in a dizzying array of activities and spend--on average--30 hours each week in front of video screens, observes Richard Louv in his best-selling book Last Child in the Woods.

So when after-school ecology hikes became popular among middle schoolers this year, Mount Desert Elementary School teacher Brian Cote was thrilled. He credits Maine Coast Heritage Trust Regional Steward Billy Helprin with the enthusiastic response. "Students learned a lot and had fun," Cote says, "and their positive reports drew in more participants. Billy trained them to see things they've never noticed and helped them discover some of the science behind what they observed." As a result of the outings, Cote observes, "they look at nature differently." Several outings involved hikes through the Hadlock Pond watershed where Maine Coast Heritage Trust has worked in recent years to conserve hundreds of acres, including walking trails connecting the school and the village to Acadia National Park.

Helprin, who brings his graduate training in biology and natural history to numerous school groups around MDI, says "I enjoy being a resource for the island's teachers and classes and introducing students to parts of their island 'backyard' they may never have noticed."

Conservation Efforts Progressing at Black Island

By coordinating a series of transactions with four neighboring landowners, Maine Coast Heritage Trust has made great progress conserving the unique values of Black Island, one of the scenic, wooded gems off Bass Harbor. A favorite picnic and hiking destination for generations, 451-acre Black Island has pink granite bluffs, cobble beaches and a rich history. While the island has had no year-round residents since the 1930s, it supported a thriving community in the late 1800s, complete with a schoolhouse and a rail line that ran from a quarry site to a stone wharf (where much of the granite was shipped out to build the post office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).

A series of conservation easements now ensures that the northern two-thirds of the island will remain essentially wild (with modest building allowed in just two locations). MCHT is under a contract closing this summer to acquire a 120-acre preserve at the island's southernmost end. Last year, MCHT purchased the adjoining Little Black Island (which is barred to the new preserve at low tide).

"We appreciate the generous support we've received from many MDI families who have long enjoyed Black Island," says MCHT project manager Bob DeForrest. "We hope to complete the last piece of this effort soon so that future generations can enjoy the long-standing tradition of recreational use." To help MCHT complete protection of Black Island, please contact Bob DeForrest at 244-5100.

New MCHT Preserve at Northwest Cove

Maine Coast Heritage Trust now owns a beautiful, 82-acre preserve along Northwest Cove, thanks to the generosity of its former owners, Diana and Tom Oliphant. The Oliphants, whose family owned the land for more than 75 years, deeded the property to MCHT earlier this year, saying it was "a dream come true to work with MCHT and give this land to people who will treasure it."

"As development increased we felt there would be a growing need for places where the people of Mount Desert Island could swim, picnic and explore the shore," Diana Oliphant observed. "So we decided to share our beautiful camp with the local people. It felt like the right thing to do--making sure this little piece of Maine's coast would not change."

The Oliphant's gift will help preserve the remarkably wild and scenic "western shore" of Mount Desert Island, which extends for miles along Western Bay and Blue Hill Bay. MCHT is encouraged by the current commitment to conservation among landowners along this shoreline, with several active projects under way and neighborhood discussions planned.

"We're grateful to the Oliphants for entrusting us with this land," observes MCHT project manager Ciona Ulbrich. "Their gift is clearly inspiring other families along MDI's western shore to explore conservation options for their properties."

To help fund the long-term stewardship costs of this unique preserve, MCHT and the Oliphants agreed to sell a small house lot adjoining other residential lots along Indian Point Road well away from the shore. "The Oliphants were making an exceptionally generous gift," Ulbrich notes, "and this solution meant that we could take on a major stewardship commitment without requiring further resources from them."

MCHT will be working this summer to inventory the land's natural resources, draft a management plan, and involve neighbors and community members in the process.

From 3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 18, MCHT staff will offer public tours of the property. Please call our MDI office at 244-5100 for more details.

Help Support Land Protection on Mount Desert Island

To protect treasured lands around Mount Desert Island and beyond, Maine Coast Heritage Trust relies upon contributions from individuals who recognize how vital conservation is to sustaining the special quality of this place. 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 support our land conservation efforts, and invite you to share this newsletter and envelope with friends.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust welcomes donors interested in contributing to either general land protection around Mount Desert Island or to specific projects--such as the current efforts to protect Black Island in Blue Hill Bay or the Kitteredge Brook Forest in Town Hill (see related articles).

You may also wish to consider a planned gift to MCHT--such as a bequest, charitable remainder trust, or charitable gift annuity. To learn more about planned giving options, please contact Director of Development Sue Telfeian at 207-729-7366, ext. 128, or visit www.mcht.org/support_mcht.

MCHT Office Receives LEED Gold Certification

Maine Coast Heritage Trust's new office building in Somesville received gold certification through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED gold certification, received by only a few buildings to date in Maine, reflects how the MCHT office minimizes water and energy use, incorporates solar energy, and uses materials from local and environmentally responsible providers. To learn more about the building's green features, feel free to stop by the office at 1034 Main Street in Somesville (just north of the traffic light on Route 102).

MCHT Helps Bay Restoration Efforts

Maine Coast Heritage Trust is assisting the Mount Desert Island Biological Lab (MDIBL) in a collaborative effort to restore eelgrass in Upper Frenchman Bay. Several years ago, MDIBL completed an eelgrass restoration west of Hadley Point in Bar Harbor that appears to be successful, supporting a large population of juvenile mussels, fish and lobsters. MCHT staff members are participating in a new MDIBL initiative to create a conservation plan for Upper Frenchman Bay, and plans are underway to restore a new site near MCHT-owned Thomas Island. For more information on this project, contact MCHT's Brian Reilly at 244-5100.