Update on Sears Island

February 2024 – The Mills administration recently announced Sears Island as the preferred location for an offshore wind hub to facilitate deepwater ocean wind energy development in the Gulf of Maine. Decades ago, Sears Island was acquired by the Maine Department of Transportation to support marine transportation as part of the state’s three-port strategy.

In 2007, a consensus agreement was reached calling for 600 acres of the island to be conserved, with the other 330 acres remaining available for future transportation needs. Maine Coast Heritage Trust became the conservation easement holder on the 600-acre parcel in 2009, which means we have a unique role as the state determines future uses on the island. Upholding the easement is our top priority, an easement that ensures public access to the land and the protection of its ecological benefits.

MCHT also supports Governor Mills’ efforts to position the state as a leader in ocean and wind energy, and we believe it is critical that this goal be achieved in a way that balances the needs of Maine’s people, the environment, and the Searsport community.

We will continue to follow this process closely and will evaluate any proposed activities on Sears Island for their potential impact on the public values outlined in the conservation easement.

A Community Embraces Sears Island

(Story as it appeared on mcht.org in 2018)

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.

Sears Island 265x400

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.

 

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