Monday, July 24, 2017

Governments buying Islands

USA: Land Trust Aims to Preserve Private Islands in Maine for Future Generations

After securing a substantial grant from the US government, a prominent land trust has moved closer to securing the future of the Goslings – a trio of uninhabited private islands in Maine

The Gosling Islands, Maine - Photo Courtesy of PressHearald.com

The Gosling Islands, Maine – Photo Courtesy of PressHearald.com

The Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) has this week moved one step closer to its goal of transforming three uninhabited private islands into a permanent public preserve, after US Government officials at the Land for Maine’s Future programme voted to award the trust’s bold cause with a substantial grant of USD 265,500.

The islands in question are the Goslings – a trio of privately-owned islets located within Maine’s famous Casco Bay sailing region, just minutes from the town of Harpswell. Despite their diminutive stature, East Gosling (8.6 acres), West Gosling (4 acres) and the tiny Irony Island (1 acre) have a big significance throughout the local community.

For generations, families have been travelling to the wooded islands to enjoy the unmistakable sense of solitude they present.”The Goslings represent the last little place where folks without a million dollars can go to relax on the coast,” explained Brunswick-based island fan and long-time visitor of the Goslings, Chris Davis.

It is feared that should the Maine Coast Heritage Trust not succeed in securing the future of the precious Gosling Island group, a new private landowner may put a stop to this long-standing tradition of unrestricted public access, potentially by means of a drastic development.

A total of USD 925,000 is required to secure the islands, and the government grant provided a much-needed boost to morale. Whilst project manager Keith Fletcher remains confident that the MCHT will match its target prior to the August 31st deadline, the trust’s fundraising efforts have had something of a slow start.

Despite a widespread grassroots effort, in over two months of fundraising, only USD 135,000 was raised – barely scratching the surface of the USD 925,000 target. With the arrival of the Land for Maine’s Future sponsorship money, however, a sense of cautious optimism is once again creeping in.

“I think in a month’s time the picture should look very different,” promised MCHT Project Manager Keith Fletcher, as he explained the trust’s reasons for taking action. “The Casco Bay region represents the backyard of about one-third of Maine’s population. The long tradition of access to these islands is part of what makes Casco Bay so popular, and it’s what we hope to preserve.”

Whilst the efforts to conserve the Gosling Islands are by no means the biggest fundraising drive in the history of the MCHT, it is certainly one of the tightest schedules they have experienced. “It’s a big mountain for us to climb, but we’re inspired by the community support,” said Rich Knox, Director of Communications.

To donate to the Gosling Islands campaign or to find out more about the Maine Coastal Heritage Trust’s previous conservation efforts, please head over to www.mcht.org

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