Over the past two years, Maine Coast Heritage Trust has unveiled a handful of new preserves in Casco Bay, increasing the number of destinations for local boaters to explore. This spring, with support from local businesses and volunteers, MCHT has improved infrastructure on these and other conserved lands throughout the region.
Generous landowners donated Lanes Island in the winter of 2013. Located in Yarmouth, this 28-acre preserve is easily accessible at mid-to-high tides from Freeport’s Winslow Park or the Town of Yarmouth’s Royal River boat launch. Back in early May, an intrepid group of Boy Scouts and their leaders camped on the island and scoured its shores for trash, leaving them pristine. In early July, MCHT teamed up with Linkel Construction and Island Services to create a stone staircase that leads to a campsite on the western shore. MCHT staff and volunteers also created a second campsite further to the east to increase overnight options. Visitors are invited to explore the island, picnic along the shore, or scan the surrounding water for osprey and other resident wildlife.
Just to the south, eleven volunteers from Farm Credit East in Auburn spent a day picking up trash along the shores of MCHT’s Clapboard East Preserve. This 15-acre preserve in Falmouth includes half a mile of trails and four beaches that are ideal for skipping rocks and cooling off on a hot summer day. On June 27, MCHT partnered with the Friends of Clapboard Island and Falmouth Land Trust to invite the public for some “Bagels on the Beach.” Free boat rides were provided to more than 60 visitors, many of whom enjoyed the island for the first time. The Clapboard East Preserve, which is open for day use only, has two neighbors; please respect their privacy.
Farther east, in Harpswell, MCHT has invested time and resources improving the newly acquired preserve on The Goslings, as well as our 13-year old Whaleboat Island Preserve. New kiosks and signs were installed to welcome visitors. In addition, old campsites were cleaned up and improved, and a new group site was carved out of the Whaleboat’s northwestern shore. Those venturing to either island will appreciate the volunteers from Patagonia who spent two days removing tires, plastic, and other debris from the shore.
If you are planning to visit these or other MCHT Preserves be sure to plan ahead. The group campsites on Lanes Island, East Gosling, and Whaleboat are available by reservation only, but other sites on all three preserves are on a first-come, first-served basis. Be sure to check tide and weather information in advance. More information, including visit guidelines, can be found here.