The wait is over for the Maine Coast Heritage Trust – after several months on the campaign trail, the group has succeeded in transforming 3 uninhabited islands into a permanent public preserve
The Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) has this week announced that it has succeeded in meeting its fundraising target of USD 925,000 in order to secure the future of the Gosling Islands – a group of three uninhabited islands, located just minutes away from the town of Harpswell, in the heart of Maine’s famous Casco Bay sailing revier.
It is hoped that the purchase of the island group will go a long way to ensuring that the Gosling’s long-held tradition for public access will be upheld in perpetuity. A stewardship program is reportedly already being drawn up, and is said to include responsibilities such as signage, maintenance of campsites, and – most importantly – maintaining the islands’ natural habitats.
Despite suffering a slow start to the campaign, the MCHT’s fundraising efforts were considerably boosted by a USD 265,000 grant from the Land for Maine’s Future programme. This substantial donation proved to be a turning point in what was the tightest schedule in the group’s history, triggering a flurry of fundraising activity which saw them succeed against all the odds.
When news broke that the group had succeeded in securing the island trio, the sense of relief was palpable. As MCHT Project Manager Keith Fletcher explained, “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.”
The sale came about after the Goslings’ long-term owners – the LeMaistre family – chose to place the islands on the market earlier this year, sparking fears that the picturesque island group could land in the hands of a developer – putting an end to the long-held tradition of unrestricted public access and jeopardizing the unspoiled scenery of Casco Bay.
The MCHT sprang into action straight away, taking up the LeMaistre family’s generous offer of a first right of refusal and embarking on a whirlwind of fundraising activity which culminated on August 31st with the brilliant news that the Goslings’ long-held tradition of public access would be upheld in perpetuity.
“The incredible outpouring of generosity for these islands demonstrates how important it is to protect public access to the places people love,” said MCHT President Tim Glidden. “We thank all who played a part in this success, and we look forward to caring for The Goslings for generations to come.”
Maine Coast Heritage Trust is a statewide land conservation organization committed to protecting the character of Maine. Since 1970, Maine Coast Heritage Trust has helped conserve more than 141,000 acres in Maine, from the Isles of Shoals to Cobscook Bay, including more than 300 entire coastal islands. For more information, visit www.mcht.org.
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