The Clark Island Project
The effort to forever protect and open this beloved island to the public is underway.
For decades Clark Island’s owners graciously allowed visitors to enjoy the sandy beaches, tide pools, and trails, and many have done so without realizing access is not guaranteed, that the property could be sold, developed, and cut off to the public.
Maine Coast Heritage Trust is working to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Ensuring public access
In the fall of 2017, Maine Coast Heritage Trust entered into an option agreement with the landowners to purchase and conserve the majority of Clark Island and open it to the public as a preserve.
Now, the effort to raise $4.8 million by March of 2020 is underway. If successful, this effort will result in 85% of the 175-acre island being permanently protected, with 120 acres secured for public access.
A haven for wildlife
Beyond ensuring people will always have access to this special place, conservation of Clark Island would be a boon for the incredible diversity of wildlife currently seeking refuge here.
Many of the natural community types, including intertidal salt marshes, mudflats, and beaches, are designated as Significant Wildlife Habitat by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
A rich history
While the island is now mostly undeveloped, original settlements date back to the 1780s. Today, the landscape holds clues about the life and times of the scores of stonecutters, quarrymen, and sculptors and their families who called Clark Island home in the late nineteenth century.
Locals show support
MCHT is far from alone in recognizing this as an extraordinary conservation opportunity. “This area would be a wonderful recreational asset for the townspeople,” said Richard Bates, St. George Head Selectman.
“While we are still new to the area, we were quick to notice the value that Clark Island brings to the Craignair and to the local community,” say Greg and Lauren Soutiea, owners of the nearby Craignair Inn and Restaurant. “Having a space like Clark Island permanently protected and open to the public would allow guests of the area and the local community to enjoy a quiet and beautiful place in nature. Clark Island is also an important resource for local artists and photographers who take in the beauty and serenity that the island has to offer on a regular basis.”
Clark Island receives federal grant
Numerous individual donors have generously given to conserve Clark Island, and in the spring of 2019, the project was awarded $1 million through U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coastal Wetlands Grant Program.
“I’m excited to see that the Department of the Interior understands just how special Clark Island is—and how important it is to protect it,” says Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “Clark Island is a wonderful treasure on Maine’s coast and is readily accessible to the general public.”
Every dollar counts—and will be matched!
Despite the chorus of support for conservation of Clark Island, MCHT is facing an uphill battle.
We have less than $400,000 (of the $4.8 million total) to raise before the spring of 2020, which is the cost of acquiring the land and turning it into a public preserve. Right now, every $1 donated will be matched by an additional dollar—making your gift go twice as far. Many have already stepped up and made generous gifts toward the project. Thank you!
Would you like to support the effort to conserve Clark Island?
For more information, please contact:
Town/County: St. George, Knox County
Project size: 120 acres
Project cost: $4.8 million