Monday, July 24, 2017

Governments buying Islands

United States: Another Conservation Group Raises Funds for Island Purchase

Wilderness in popular Kennebunkport is in increasingly short supply, but an organization has just successfully fundraised enough to preserve an island and almost 100 mainland acres.

(Image Courtesy of John Dalton)

In July, the Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization, issued a strong plea for donations to purchase an island and a rare untouched parcel of wilderness on the mainland. It looks like their calls have been answered; thanks to an enthusiastic public response and the efforts of numerous government bodies and NGOs, the Trust is set to move forward with its ambitious conservation program. The director of the Trust, Wolfe Tone, has announced that the group has raised the US $5,125,000 needed to purchase 97 acres of land and a small island. “We are elated with the support this project has received, and can now position ourselves to close this project later this fall,” he said.

The land was a strategic acquisition for the Trust, given that in the popular cottage region, few totally undeveloped coastal parcels remain, and in fact, the property known as Timber Point is thought to be one of the only such consolidated pieces in the 55-mile stretch between the towns of Kittery and Cape Elizabeth. Located off Granite Point, the 13-acre Timber Island is sheltered in Goosefare Bay, and is completely untouched by development.

In 2008, the Ewing family, the owners of both the island and mainland property, agreed to sell it the land to the Trust if they could raise the $5M+ required, as long the family could retain 13 acres, including their traditional farmhouse. Conservation of these lands was a priority of local environmental groups for more than a decade, and when given this opportunity to purchase them, the Trust and its partners set about on years of active fundraising efforts.

With assistance from other conservancies like the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, with additional support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, federal funds were procured to the tune of $3.2M by June of 2011. The remainder of the purchase price was raised over the summer; in addition to government funding, more than 600 individuals and businesses ultimately contributed. Now that the Trust has reached its goal, Timber Point and Timber Island will become part of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, and an important part of Maine’s coastal ecosystem will be preserved for future generations to come.

Visit the website for the Trust for Public Land: http://www.tpl.org/

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