The Clark Island Project
Many in the Midcoast know Clark Island in St. George. Like Mackworth Island in Falmouth or Sears Island in Searsport, Clark is one of those rare islands connected by a causeway. You don’t need a boat to experience this marvelous Maine island—and that’s only part of what makes it so special.
For decades Clark Island’s owners have graciously allowed visitors to enjoy the sandy beaches, tide pools, trails, and swimming hole, and many have done so without realizing access is not guaranteed, that a “no trespassing” sign might appear any day.
Maine Coast Heritage Trust is working to make sure that doesn’t happen.
In the fall of 2017, Maine Coast Heritage Trust entered into an option agreement with the landowners to purchase and conserve the majority of Clark Island and open it to the public as a preserve. Now, the effort to raise $4.8 million by March of 2020 is underway. If successful, this effort will result in 85% of the 175-acre island being permanently protected, with 120 acres secured for public access.
Beyond ensuring people will always have access to this special place, conservation of Clark Island would be a boon for the incredible diversity of wildlife currently seeking refuge here. Many of the natural community types, including intertidal salt marshes, mudflats, and beaches, are designated as Significant Wildlife Habitat by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
While the island is now mostly undeveloped, original settlements date back to the 1780s. Today, the landscape holds clues about the life and times of the scores of stonecutters, quarrymen, and sculptors and their families who called Clark Island home in the late nineteenth century.
MCHT is far from alone in recognizing this as an extraordinary conservation opportunity. “This area would be a wonderful recreational asset for the townspeople,” said Richard Bates, St. George Head Selectman.
Joanne O’Shea, owner of the nearby Craignair Inn & Restaurant says conservation of Clark Island would benefit her customers and business—and ultimately the local economy. “Many of our return guests stay with us specifically because of the beauty and diversity the island offers,” she says. “It is our feeling, as well as that of our neighbors here in the Village of Clark Island, that MCHT’s conservation of the island would benefit the area tremendously.”
Despite the chorus of support for conservation of Clark Island, MCHT is facing an uphill battle. The $4.8 million price tag is steep. It will take a concerted effort and generous gifts to keep this place undeveloped and permanently open it to the public, but the Trust is hopeful and hard at work.
Town/County: St. George, Knox County
Project size: 120 acres
Project cost: $4.8 million
Would you like to support the effort to conserve Clark Island? For more information, please contact:
Maine Coast Heritage Trust
1 Bowdoin Mill Island #201
Topsham, ME 04086