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Responding to the needs of communities up and down the coast

“We don’t have movie theaters and shopping malls around here, we have incredible places to go outside. I want these kids to realize what they have around them. Through MCHT’s Lubec Outing Club, I see kids become bigger risk takers, and developing an appreciation for the outdoors and wildlife.”

—Tina Wormell, principal at Lubec Consolidated School

Maine Coast Heritage Trust fosters relationships with municipal officials in coastal towns and serves as a resource for conservation and restoration opportunities—including creating permanent public access to places people care about and helping communities adapt to a changing climate.

Our field staff look for ways to connect with local community members to tap into the sustainable resources our lands provide as and where appropriate, and have made connections with local harvesters including clammers, oyster growers, fishermen, hunters, and folks who tip fir trees on MCHT preserves. We also provide robust agricultural programming and education through direct work and partnerships.

The way we manage conserved lands is directly informed by community members through listening sessions and ongoing dialogue and collaboration with individuals and organizations.

The Challenge

People in Maine’s coastal communities are under stress.

Food security in Maine is at an all-time high. With more and more local farms converting to housing or other development, our collective capacity to address this is at greater risk.

Access to our coast is gradually being cut off, and more and more seasonal visitors and Maine residents are looking for places to go. In some communities there’s a real shortage of opportunities for accessing the land. This is especially an issue for our children, who are spending less time outdoors for a variety of reasons and missing out on the corresponding health benefits.

Lack of access is also in an issue for those who make their living from the land. Access to the coast for commercial uses such as fishing is down to around 1% of our coastline.

Reversing these trends by conserving land and opening them up for community use is more important than ever.

The Response

MCHT is working with communities throughout Maine—listening to their needs, and responding through direct work and creative partnership.

Since 2014, we have expanded access to land in over 45 Maine towns, increasing access to Maine’s natural resources and providing opportunities for schools and other institutions to reap the health benefits of being outdoors. Every year, MCHT connects with around 3,000 people through one-of-a-kind community events, fields trips, and nature walks

Our Teen Ag program has connected local teens with meaningful work experience and generates about 25,000 pounds of produce annually for distribution to local food pantries, school, and restaurants. We’re partnering with hunger-relief agencies to continue to find new ways to address this pressing issue. Our Aldermere Achievers 4-H program has impacted the lives of hundreds of local youth, some of whom have gone on to careers in veterinary science and agriculture.

Through partnerships with local land trusts and others we work to protect clean water supplies in communities. Land conservation is proven to be one of the most effective methods to secure clean water supplies.

MCHT staff live where we work. MCHT is comprised of four offices and field staff living in six coastal counties. Our passion for a healthy Maine coast and healthy Maine communities runs deep. We’re active locally and strive to make our communities better for our children and the generations to come.

Conservation and Programming Examples

Through our ongoing conservation and programming work at Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields preserves, MCHT has made a positive impact in several mid-coast communities—most recently by partnering with the Knox County Gleaners to address food insecurity.

We’re actively working to get kids outdoors and have worked with schools and other educational institutions across the coast to more closely connect youth with the land. Our partnership with the Lubec Outing Club includes participation of between 50 and 75 percent of the student body for activities ranging from hiking MCHT preserves and other local conserved lands to kayaking to downhill skiing.

In another community success downeast, MCHT also recently conserved Bailey’s Point in Lubec, which offers water access for fishermen and the general public alike.

MCHT is working with Native-led groups in a variety of ways to advance the needs of Maine tribes. We supported a Native-led non-profit in its efforts to secure sacred lands. And we’re actively engaged as a partner in the First Light Learning Journey.

Maine still faces daunting social challenges. Land conservation and conservation programming can help build stronger, healthier communities. For MCHT to continue its successes in partnership with communities, ongoing donor support is critical. We welcome your involvement in keeping Maine’s coastal communities strong!