Introducing MCHT’s Newest, Largest Preserve: Rocky Lake
Rocky Lake is so remote you can skate across its frozen surface for miles without catching a glimpse of human life. As the sun rose pink on a cold, clear day last January, Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s downeast project manager Jacob van de Sande made that frigid trip, carving tracks along Rocky Lake’s shoreline edged in spruce and fir. As of March 2017, 2,352 acres of this dense forest and over six miles of water frontage is now permanently protected by MCHT.
While the ice thaws and the forest greens in the coming months, MCHT will be fundraising for stewardship and developing a plan to care for this preserve into the future. “I see Rocky Lake as an opportunity to work with people in the area to figure out how to make this land useful,” says Jacob van de Sande, MCHT Land Protect Manager, noting the potential for forest management of a firewood program, among other possibilities.
Situated between Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge and the Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land, protection of this land creates a wildlife corridor. It is also a critical piece of a larger MCHT initiative to restore the Orange River watershed and rejuvenate once-abundant river herring populations—an important first step toward bringing groundfishing and jobs back to the area. This project would not have been possible without The Conservation Fund, which purchased the property in June 2015 to give MCHT time to raise the necessary funds to acquire and permanently protect the property.
For his part, Tim Beal of nearby Marion Township is happy MCHT is, “keeping Rock Lake in that wild state.” Beal knows and loves this land, swims and canoes on the lake and occasionally checks up on the brook trout population. “I am looking forward to the work the land trust will do to help preserve the remote feel of the area,” he says. “And also hopefully get more people out on the water with canoes and kayaks.”
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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