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The Clark Island Project

Successful three-year effort results in guaranteed public access to beloved destination

Thanks to the generosity of many, Maine Coast Heritage Trust conserved 120 acres on Clark Island in St. George in early July.

“This place is beloved by the Midcoast community, and we’re grateful to all who made generous gifts to make this project possible,” says Steve Walker, MCHT Land Project Manager. “We’re also extremely thankful to the Nickerson heirs for their long-term stewardship of this property, their generous practice of permitting public use over the years, and their willingness to sell the land at a discounted price for permanent conservation.” 

Stewardship efforts are underway

Over the past several months, MCHT stewards have been installing signage, clearing trails, and making other improvements to ready the property for ongoing use by locals and visitors. 

We’ll be keeping you up to date on stewardship efforts in the months and years to come.

Interested in visiting?

Parking for preserve visitors is currently available only at the nearby Craignair Inn, which has established eight designated spaces in their newly renovated parking lot.

We ask visitors to respect the preserve boundaries, as it borders two private residences on the island, and to use a newly built shoreline trail that bypasses the road at the north end of the island. 

A haven for wildlife

In addition to being a destination for hikers, bird watchers, and others wishing to enjoy its natural beauty, the island serves as one of the few remaining un-fragmented coastal habitat blocks in the region, supporting a diversity of marine and terrestrial wildlife including more than 100 species of migratory birds, multiple otter dens, and many vernal pools.

Much of the intertidal salt marsh, mudflat, and beach natural community types are designated as Significant Tidal Waterfowl and Wading Bird Habitat by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

At its peak in the early 20th century, about 300 stonecutters were employed in Clark Island’s quarry operation.

A rich history

Clark Island has a long and fascinating history, with original settlement dating back to the 1780s, and quarrying operations beginning in the 1830s. By 1890, 100 stone cutters and their families, plus supporting crews of quarrymen and sculptors, along with 51 children, lived on Clark Island.

In 1892, the town of Saint George paid for a granite causeway from the mainland to Clark Island, and by 1900, 400 people—300 of them stone cutters—were employed in the quarry operation. Today the island is mostly undeveloped with just two remaining residences.

Locals show support

Greg and Lauren Soutiea, who bought the Craignair Inn & Restaurant in 2018, witness daily the importance of Clark Island. The inn and restaurant are adjacent to the causeway that leads to the island.

“I see how special the place is to the local community,” Greg said. He said every day, including in the winter, people walk out onto the island. Lauren and Greg plan to operate a small concession stand offering refreshments for visitors this summer.

The conservation of Clark Island will continue to allow locals and visitors an opportunity to experience the wonders of Clark Island. Many recognize the importance of conserving this unique island, including the local land trust, George River Land Trust, which has long been interested in protecting public access to this special place.

Fundraising for stewardship continues, and gifts will be matched

MCHT has $125,000 left to raise in support of the long-term stewardship of Clark Island. Right now, every $1 donated will be matched by an additional dollar, making gifts go twice as far.

Thanks to all who supported this effort

$1 million of the $4.8 million project costs was received through a Coastal Wetlands Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and $20,000 was granted from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund.

Many individuals stepped up to make special contributions to this project. Thank you, MCHT donors. You did it! Now Clark Island will always be conserved and open to the public.

Questions?

To make a gift to support ongoing stewardship efforts, please contact:

David Warren
Development Department
Maine Coast Heritage Trust
207-522-9228

Regarding management of the preserve, please contact:

Amanda Devine
Stewardship Department
Maine Coast Heritage Trust
207-607-4585

Town/County: St. George, Knox County
Project size: 120 acres
Project cost: $4.8 million

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