Wallamatogus Mountain is the second-tallest ridge top on the Blue Hill Peninsula, located at the core of an 11,000 acre unfragmented natural area. In 2010, we completed the acquisition of a large parcel of land that includes the northern and eastern slopes of Wallamatogus. In July, we closed on an adjacent 273 acres that includes most of the Great Heath, the largest and most remote peatland on our Peninsula. Primary project funding was provided by the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program, with additional funding from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act Program and private donors.
The wetland values on this property are outstanding. The Great Heath is a large, intact peatland ecosystem comprised of a mosaic of wetland communities that host a variety of plant and animal species. It is a significant natural feature and freshwater source in the Bagaduce River watershed, an estuarine system of statewide significance.
This property includes habitat for inland wading birds and waterfowl designated as ‘high-value wildlife habitat’ by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Many of the wetland types have been identified as decreasing and of high priority for protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Maine Natural Area Program has also identified the Great Heath as worthy of conservation protection in a regional landscape analysis.
It addition to its wetland values, this parcel also includes a large area of upland forest on its eastern side that provides a buffer for the wetland and additional wildlife habitat. This upland complements the upland buffer provided by the parcel we previously purchased on the western side of the Heath. These upland areas provide us the opportunity to offer areas for low-impact recreation.
Our efforts to protect Wallamatogus flow from a conservation planning report prepared for us by a prominent independent conservation planner in 2009. This report identified a series of ‘conservation focus areas’ on the Blue Hill Peninsula that are worthy of conservation because they encompass one or more intact landscapes and include a concentration of important conservation values. We are using the report to help guide our new land project work. The Wallamatogus area is one of these conservation focus areas.
Jed Island, at the mouth of Morgan Bay, is now conservation land, and will remain available as productive habitat for eagles, seals, and other wildlife and as a place where people can enjoy a strikingly beautiful island experience. Our partnership with Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) to raise the necessary funding to purchase the island and to ensure its future stewardship has been successfully completed. MCHT, which specializes in island conservation, will hold title to the island. Our Trust will assist MCHT with the future stewardship of this island gem. THANK YOU to the many local residents who contributed to this project.
Jed Island is a forested 14-acre island with an easily accessible shoreline. The Island has a long tradition of local recreational use by boaters. It also has important wildlife values. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has identified the island as a bald eagle nesting site and the waters and ledges around surrounding it as coastal wading bird and waterfowl habitat. Nearby ledges also host a large harbor seal population.
A new conservation easement gift extends the protection of the scenic views enjoyed by the public from the Newbury Neck Road in Surry.
The easement prevents future development on nine acres of blueberry fields that run from the public road to the shore of Union Bay, providing easterly views over the water to the mountains of Acadia National Park. The land abuts other fields to the north that have been previously protected by conservation easements donated to our Trust by Marshall and Peggy Smith. Together the easements on these lands will ensure that the continuing development of the shorefront land along the Newbury Neck Road will not erase the public’s opportunity to benefit from the beautiful and inspiring views that it has long offered those who ride, bike, run and walk there.
We are grateful to the trustees of the William H. Shafer Trust for their decision to join their neighbors in protecting this scenic resource.
Small can be good. With conservation land, it just depends on its location. A recent gift of a small parcel of land in Brooksville proves the point.
This four-acre parcel, with rugged rock outcroppings, towering trees, and nearly 1,000 feet of tidal shore frontage, is located on a small cove that forms part of a larger waterbody known as Horseshoe Cove. The cove provides high-quality waterfowl and shore bird habitat.
Although a parcel this small might have questionable conservation value if it were isolated from other conservation land, this parcel faces land across the cove protected by a conservation easement and is near our Bell’s Farm Preserve. It is also located near our John B. Mountain Preserve and, with the cooperation of an abutting landowner, may provide us the opportunity to create a new walking trail from John B. Mountain to the shore that would allow the public to enjoy the quiet beauty of this place.
The land was originally part of a small subdivision, but Brooksville’s shoreland zoning ordinance identified the land as resource protection and thus prevented its development. The owner, looking for an appropriate new owner for the land, contacted us. We were grateful for that call.
Because it includes tidal wetland and provides waterfowl habitat, this gift has an additional value— it may serve as a portion of the match required by the NAWCA grant describe elsewhere in this newsletter, thereby leveraging the protection of other wetland habitat.
We are grateful to the Davis Family of Brooksville for their gift of a trail easement in late 2012. This easement will allow the Trust to construct a new trail to our John B. Mountain property by connecting two recently conserved parcels, one along Horseshoe Cove and the other near the mountain.
BHHT closed out the year with a gift of a 113-acre parcel of land in North Brooklin. The land was donated by Stephen Winthrop and M. Jane Williamson, summer residents of Brooklin, where Winthrop’s family has owned a home for 90 years. It is mostly forested, with a diversity of tree species, and includes small streams, wetland, blueberry ground, and an assortment of ledge outcroppings near the town’s highest point.
“When we sold our house in North Brooklin 12 years ago, we kept the land behind the house because we had fallen in love with its trails and varied habitat,” said Winthrop. “We couldn’t stand the idea of it being chopped up for house lots. Now we have the peace of mind that the land will be protected forever, and that the public will now enjoy the recreational use of the land as much as we have.” The family has affectionately referred to the land as “Hundred Acre Wood,” after land in the classic children’s story Winnie-the-Pooh.
This is a wonderful natural area, with lots of evidence of its use and value to a variety of wildlife. It will also be a great place for a series of walking trails, which we look forward to making available to the public.