The Islands Initiative

The Maine coast is famous around the world for its islands.

From spits of rock to vast, wild places like Marshall Island—these thousands of islands in all their variety and beauty define the character of the Maine coast.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust is working from Isles of Shoals in Kittery to Cobscook Bay along the Canadian border to protect priority islands from development, permanently open them to the public, and ensure birds and other wildlife will always find refuge on the coast.

Since 1970, MCHT has worked with local, state, and federal partners and generous landowners to protect more than 330 entire coastal islands, and we now own and steward 89 coastal island preserves with public access.

Through the Islands Initiative, we’ve identified more than 100 coastal islands as top priorities for future protection through conservation easements and direct acquisition. To learn more about specific projects and fundraising goals, please be in touch. Contact info can be found below.

Key Components of the Initiative

Recreation & Public Use

For thousands of years, people have found adventure and respite on Maine’s islands, and in today’s fast-paced world we need these places and the transformative experiences they offer more than ever. Through the Islands Initiative, MCHT will create more recreational opportunities on the coast, and build and steward island trail systems and campsites for boaters in cooperation with local land trusts and recreational groups like Maine Island Trail Association (MITA).

Nesting Birds

MCHT plays a vital role in the conservation of seabird nesting islands by purchasing and stewarding them or transferring them to Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. To date, MCHT has had a hand in protecting dozens of National Refuge islands and helped restore Arctic, common, and roseate terns, Atlantic puffin, and razorbills to Maine islands.

Wildlife Habitat

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, islands account for less than 5% of the Earth’s land, yet are home to an estimated 20% of all bird, reptile, and plant species, and 40% of all critically endangered species. Maine islands provide critical shelter and feeding, roosting, and nesting habitat for birds of all kinds, including wading birds, seabirds, shorebirds, and migrating birds.

Scenic Beauty

MCHT was founded by people who recognized the singularity of the Maine coast and could not stand to see it squandered by overdevelopment. Our experience of the coast would be a lot different today if it weren’t for their foresight and generosity. Your gifts will keep more iconic viewscapes whole and accessible, and ensure Maine’s world-class cruising waters remain forever beautiful.

Your gift to the Islands Initiative will help save Maine’s iconic islands from development, protect habitat, and ensure the Maine coast remains forever beautiful and open to all.

Nicky Blanchard
Director of Engagement


Betsy Ham
Director of Land Protection