This Land is Your Land
“I’m wary of the notion of ownership. These aren’t really Maine Coast Heritage Trust preserves—they belong to everyone. And we’re not the only ones caring for them. Up and down the coast, there are people who love these preserves like we do. We couldn’t do this work without their support.”
– Jane Arbuckle, Director of Stewardship
MCHT Steward Kirk Gentalen teaching kids in the Perspectives After School program in Vinalhaven all about spiders
Imagine having a 12,760.92-acre back yard.
The attempt makes your back hurt, right?
It takes a lot for Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) to take care of its conserved land—and that’s not all stewards do.
Stewards build trails, campsites, parking lots, and kiosks. They collaborate with schools, other nonprofits, and outing clubs to get kids out on the land. They also run more than 50 field trips per year.
The work is fun, dirty, difficult, and downright rewarding. Out in the field, stewards hear it again and again, from locals to first-time visitors to Maine: Access to the coast matters to us. These natural places make Maine, Maine. And people go out of their way to pitch in when they can.
In the summer of 2016, when illegal campfires spread on three islands throughout Maine, coastal communities stepped up in a big way to help mitigate the damage.
Forest Service Rangers, firefighters, and students from Maine Maritime Academy helped in a several-days-long effort to put out a fire off the coast of Castine. A fire on Vinalhaven was kept in check thanks to the local volunteer fire department and the visitors who reported it, and The Harpswell Fire Department and The Forest Service were critical in helping to keep a fire on Whaleboat Island under control.
So, too, was Harpswell resident and lobsterman Loren Eiane. Days after the flames on Whaleboat Island were extinguished, roots continued to smolder underground. When MCHT staff went back to check on the fire, a couple of times they ran into Eiane and his son hauling buckets of water into the woods, tacking a couple more hours on to an already long work day.
“I heard about those red hot embers and I couldn’t just sit there and watch the island burn,” says Eiane. “I’ve lived here too long. I care about this place too much.”
On any given summer day, you’ll find MCHT stewards out on the land, building bog bridges on the Bold Coast, navigating the tides in Casco Bay, or growing vegetables in Rockport. But in truth there are far more people who care for these protected places. We thank you all.
More Stories from the Coast
This interview with Donald Soctomah, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Passamaquoddy Tribe, is part of the Voices from the Coast project to celebrate peoples’ deep connection to the Maine coast and MCHT’s 50 years of land conservation.Read More
MCHT Conservation Intern Claire Pellegrini spent the summer of 2020 working with Boothbay Regional Land Trust.Read More