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Summer 2011

MCHT Partnerships Benefit MDI Ponds

Anyone familiar with Mount Desert Island knows that opportunities to acquire shorefront along local lakes and ponds are few and far between. The stars aligned twice this spring, when Maine Coast Heritage Trust signed agreements to conserve two tracts totaling more than 50 acres and nearly a mile of undeveloped frontage along Lower Hadlock Pond and Round Pond to ensure permanent public enjoyment. Both properties will ultimately be conveyed to Acadia National Park to help complete its boundary.

“Thanks to committed landowners and a strong partnership with Friends of Acadia (FOA), we have an opportunity to conserve both properties by this fall,” said David MacDonald, MCHT’s Director of Land Protection. As part of its MDI Land Conservation Initiative (see below), the Trust will be working to raise private donations this summer to match federal dollars recently received by the Park in support of the acquisitions.

Lower Hadlock Pond is a favorite destination for hikers, paddlers and fishers. The footpath that circles its quiet shoreline has been in place for more than one hundred years and the views north to Bald and Parkman Mountains are classic Acadia scenes. And yet only half of the pond had been in conservation ownership with the rest at risk of subdivision, speculation and development. This conservation project will complete protection of the pond’s western shore.

The owner of the property, the Mount Desert Water District, has generously allowed public use of the trails for years and has been supportive of arranging a transfer to the Park. Proceeds from the conservation sale will allow the District to make capital improvements in water delivery infrastructure and ensure a clean public water supply for years to come.

Set in the woods on MDI’s western “quiet side,” Round Pond is more remote and lesser known than Lower Hadlock, but faced similar conservation challenges, with only half the shoreline in Park ownership. Fortunately, long-time landowner David Irvin has offered to sell his 14-acre tract to MCHT for well below what the land could have brought on the open real estate market. Key pledges of support from FOA and another private foundation, Eliotsville Plantation, Inc., will allow the partners to acquire the Irvin tract later this summer, with a plan to transfer the land to the Park in the future.

To learn how to contribute and help these projects succeed, please contact MCHT at 244-5100. Thanks to a partnership with the Pew Charitable Trusts, a match of up to 50% is possible for qualifying donations by the end of 2011.

Local Scouts Help Improve MCHT Preserves

MCHT’s stewardship programs on Mount Desert Island got a boost this year from two local Boy Scouts, and visitors to the Trust’s preserves will benefit as a result.

Hikers who climb the half-mile trail up Acadia Mountain, where MCHT maintains a 26-acre preserve overlooking Somes Sound, will find two picnic tables waiting for them, courtesy of Tom Reilly, a teenager from Seal Harbor working on his Eagle Scout project. Reilly and other Scouts built the tables in MCHT’s stewardship barn, conducted site preparation at the end of the trail and then worked together to move the tables up the mountain.

Another Scout, Nathan Smallidge of Mount Desert, improved the property around a small cabin on the MCHT-owned Thomas Island Preserve, north of the causeway connecting MDI to the mainland. He organized work parties to clear away an understory of dead firs in an oak grove, lined up transportation and supplies, and designed camping sites for use by Scout troops and other groups.

“The contributions of these two Scouts were outstanding,” says MCHT regional steward Terry Towne. “They demonstrated leadership and maturity as well as a true interest in conservation.” Both young men, incidentally, successfully earned their Eagle Scout ranks for their work.

New MDI Project Manager Brings Multiple Strengths to MCHT

MCHT’s Mount Desert Island office is welcoming a new land protection project manager, Misha Mytar, who not only brings a strong background in land conservation and community-based natural resource planning but also a deep knowledge of the MDI region. “We are very pleased to have Misha join our staff,” says David MacDonald, director of land protection. “With the MDI Land Conservation Initiative under way, this is a critical time for MCHT, and adding Misha really strengthens our team.”

Mytar grew up in Hancock County, graduated from Yale University with a degree in anthropology and earned her Master’s degree in community planning and development, land use and environmental planning from the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. She comes to MCHT from a position as senior planner in the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, where she worked to enhance the economic and community development potential of the Bureau’s down east properties. She has also worked for the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Friends of Blue Hill Bay and Frenchman Bay Conservancy.

“After many years of working with MCHT’s land protection staff, I’m excited to be an official member of the team on MDI,” Mytar says. “A lot of great conservation work has already taken place here, yet there is so much more to be done. It’s an area where I can bring my work in both land conservation and community planning to the table to help accomplish the Trust’s goals.”

MCHT bids a fond farewell to Brian Reilly, who left the land protection staff to work on the recovery effort for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Challenge Grants Boost MDI Land Conservation

Since its founding on Mount Desert Island in 1970, Maine Coast Heritage Trust has worked to preserve land critical to the island community — the shorefront, mountains and lakes that define MDI’s unique character. When the opportunity to protect 516 acres at Kitteredge Brook Forest arose last year, the Trust boldly launched the Mount Desert Island Land Conservation Initiative.

The Initiative targets four significant island landscapes. The woods and watersheds of MDI’s interior (including Kitteredge Brook Forest) provide recreational opportunities and sustain wildlife habitat and water quality. The western shore, between Western Bay and Bass Harbor, remains remarkably wild, thanks to conservation-minded families who have voluntarily protected their land here. MCHT’s leadership protecting productive farmland on MDI through more than a dozen completed land protection projects has boosted local agriculture initiatives. And, in partnership with Friends of Acadia, MCHT is working to build the Acadia Land Legacy to help conserve key parcels within the Acadia National Park boundary.

With the ambitious fund-raising goal of $10 million, the MDI Initiative is allowing MCHT to take timely action to protect threatened lands. More than 20 new land protection opportunities have been identified around the island, and several have already been completed. “We have had great initial success in this effort thanks to the vision and commitment of our generous supporters,” says Director of Land Protection David MacDonald.

Challenge grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts and an anonymous donor provided a 50-percent match on the first $2 million raised, including $1 million from the Martha and Alexis Stewart Charitable Foundation. The total raised to date is $7 million. Momentum remains strong thanks to a second 50-percent matching opportunity made possible by the continued partnership of The Pew Charitable Trusts and a generous new challenge grant from the Davis Family Foundation. The Davis Family Challenge is offered in honor of MCHT’s Board Chair, Tom Ireland, for his contributions to the organization during his tenure as president in 2010.

“It’s wonderful to see so many conservation-minded partners supporting our efforts to protect MDI’s most cherished landscapes,” says MCHT Director of Development, Sue Telfeian. MCHT has a little over $3 million left to raise to reach the Initiative goal of $10 million. Please contact Sue (stelfeian@mcht.org or 207-729-7366) to learn more about how to leverage your gift and join our community of supporters helping to preserve MDI’s cherished landscapes.

Conservation Planning at Kitteredge Brook Forest

With the conservation of the 516-acre Kitteredge Brook Forest parcel now complete, MCHT staff have started the follow-up work to inventory the forest’s natural resources and begin the process of developing a management plan for the property. “One of our first steps is to look for rare plants, endangered species and sensitive or special habitats that may require specific management,” explains regional steward Billy Helprin.

In the coming months the Trust will reach out to neighbors and partners to discuss potential and appropriate educational and recreational uses for the Preserve. For more information, contact Billy at 244-5100.