Brooksville’s Bakeman Beach has Public Access Guaranteed
If you’ve visited or lived in Brooksville, chances are you know Bakeman Beach.
This slice of sand on Cape Rosier has long been a place where people gather to picnic, take a dip, or collect seaweed for gardens, and where some fishermen unload their traps. In the 1950s, the Bakeman family ran a hot dog stand on the road beside the beach, and remnants of the building’s chimney still can be found there today.
“Bakeman Beach has always felt accessible to locals,” says Ciona Ulbrich, Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Senior Project Manager working in this part of the state. “But the reality is that we now see places like this get closed off along the coast. That’s what MCHT and a number of people around Brooksville were afraid of when the larger property was listed for sale. We worked together to make sure that didn’t happen here.”
A few years ago, the beach was put up for sale as part of a larger residential property, and locals worried the future owners might shut off public access. Eventually the sellers decided to separate the beach from the rest of the land, and Maine Coast Heritage Trust successfully purchased the beach in October of 2019. “It is important to remember that a key part of the design of any land conservation transaction is the landowner—the transaction has to work for all sides,” notes Ciona.
Many people around the community were behind the effort, including a number who gave generously to make the purchase possible.
In December, the town held a well-attended Special Town Meeting, in which citizens vote on Articles. At the meeting, Brooksville’s select board welcomed the healthy discussion about the importance of access to water, and, ultimately, the town voted overwhelmingly to accept the gift of the beach from MCHT.
In January of 2020, MCHT turned the land over to the town to own and manage. MCHT retains a conservation easement—a legal agreement that ensures the beach will always remain open for recreational and commercial fishing access.
When it came time to sign transfer papers at the town office, Select Board members John Gray, Hal Snow, and Richard Bakeman offered this statement: “It is wonderful to finally get a piece of land that the town has always used, into Town of Brooksville ownership. We want to thank Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Ciona for making this acquisition possible. It will be available for the public’s enjoyment from now on, without any contention.”
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Twenty years ago, MCHT projects and partner projects made up roughly 10% of the total number of publicly accessible shore sites along the coast of Maine. Today, land trusts own and manage 46% of those sites.Read More