A Community Embraces Sears Island
If only Maine islands could talk, imagine the stories they’d have to share! Searsport’s Sears Island could regale us with tales of hardscrabble farming families, ancient campfires, and alcohol smuggled ashore during Prohibition. Or perhaps, even, the complicated story of the conservation of two-thirds of the island in 2009.
After a lengthy public stakeholder process, the state of Maine owns the island, Maine Coast Heritage Trust holds the easement ensuring the protection and public use of the 601-acre conservation area, and Friends of Sears Island is the Land Management Entity for the conserved land.
Lately, talk would be of the local kids who honed their winter survival skills in the woods and on the beaches in February, or the 100 people who came together on the island to celebrate the winter solstice last December, while music and the aroma of steaming hot chocolate filled the frigid air.
All this activity happening on Sears Island of late is thanks to Friends of Sears Island, the nonprofit that has done so much to make this place integral to community life in and around Searsport.
Last year the nearly all-volunteer group worked with a part-time outreach coordinator and touched over 450 people through robust, year-round programming. In addition, they steward the island, keeping it safe, clean, and enjoyable for the thousands who visit each year.
It was MCHT’s honor to help conserve most of this special island nearly a decade ago, and it is our joy to watch Friends of Sears Island bring it to life. It’s a good reminder: the story doesn’t end when a place is conserved, that’s just the beginning. Or, rather, the middle.
- To learn more about Friends of Sears Island, visit: friendsofsearsisland.org
More Stories from the Coast
Over the past six years, Maine Coast Heritage Trust has worked with partners to complete 36 marsh protection projects from York to Washington counties, conserving a total of about 1,800 acres of marsh and upland buffers.
MCHT collaborates with The Community School to protect important habitat and create permanent outdoor education space on Mount Desert Island.
Protecting connected habitats is key to making the coast more resilient to climate change, and healthy, free-flowing rivers are among the most important types of connected habitats.
MCHT helped conserve a few downtown acres in Milbridge in 2017. Four years later, this land has been transformed into the Milbridge Commons Wellness Park—a place where people can walk by the water, play, and pick free produce.
With the conservation of Sheep Island, MCHT offers a trio of great island preserves in Owls Head.