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.”
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.