Fri, 06 March 2009 14:04
While the communities of Penobscot Bay deliberate on the feasibility, practicality, and need of a cargo port on Sears Island, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust has secured an easement to protect about two thirds of the island.
from http://www.mcht.org/featured/2009/02/conservation_success_at _sears.html:
Conservation Success at Sears Island
Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) was recently granted a conservation easement by the State of Maine through its Maine Department of Transportation that permanently protects 601 acres of Sears Island, a prominent landmark in upper Penobscot Bay. Commenting on the agreement that granted the easement, MCHT president Paul Gallay remarked, "Maine Coast Heritage Trust is honored to have been entrusted with the responsibility of holding this permanent conservation easement. We admire the community planning efforts that led to this historic agreement, we are glad to play a role in the Island's future, and we are truly enthusiastic about the opportunities that this conservation success will create for the local community."
Governor John Baldacci congratulating MCHT president Paul Gallay on acceptance of a conservation easement on 600 acres of Sears Island.
The easement is part of an agreement crafted by the State and local partners that allows for development of the remaining 334 acres of the island, possibly as a cargo port. James Gillway, Town Manager of Searsport commented on the easement saying, "The Town of Searsport is thrilled at this result--one that has the potential to provide so many benefits to our community. We look forward to working with Maine Coast Heritage Trust as a partner for many years to come."
The conserved portion of Sears Island contains a highly unusual combination of marine and freshwater habitats including beaches, tall and low shrub zones, softwood forests, hardwood forests, fern meadows, grassy meadows, coastal salt marshes, and freshwater wetlands including numerous vernal pools. More than 160 bird species have been spotted on Sears. The island is also home to a number of state and federally listed rare species of mammals and amphibians, including the ribbon snake.
In addition to its ecological significance, Sears has a long tradition of low impact recreation that has now been secured for future generations thanks to the conservation easement. There are more than 5 miles of traditional trails on the island that include stunning views of Penobscot Bay, and there are plans for trail expansion and improvement by local stakeholders such as the Town of Searsport and the Friends of Sears Island. The island also affords the possibility for people to recreationally fish and clam on its 5 miles of coastline.
Maine Coast Heritage Trust will further its relationship with the Maine Department of Transportation (the owner of the island), as it works to uphold the terms of the conservation easement. MCHT's regional stewardship staff will be making regular visits to the property and will be a point of contact for those interesting in providing educational and recreational opportunities.