Gulf of Maine Coastal Program
Northeast Region

Funding success stories

Large NAWCA grants

Small NAWCA grants

Large NAWCA grants

Merrymeeting Bay and the Lower Kennebec River

Picture of a bird shrouded in mist.
  Credit: USFWS

Merrymeeting Bay and the Lower Kennebec River provide freshwater and salt water tidal marshes and mudflats that offer some of Maine’s highest value feeding and resting habitat for thousands of migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds. The region also provides habitat for rare, threatened and endangered species, including nesting osprey and eagles, short-nosed sturgeon, piping plover and roseate terns. In addition, the region provides important habitat for all 12 species of searun fish that reside in Maine. This biologically productive area is located close to the state’s largest population centers and its habitat values are threatened with increasing development pressures.

Since 1992, the Maine Wetlands Protection Coalition, a consortium of federal, state and NGO conservation partners, have used a collaborative, voluntary approach to permanently protect high value wetland habitat in the Lower Kennebec River and Merrymeeting Bay. To date, four federally funded Large NAWCA grants, three National Coastal Wetland Conservation grants, a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant, and a state-funded Land for Maine’s Future Program grant – totaling $4.7 million -- have been awarded in the region. Combined with another $4.6 million in non-government funding (private philanthropy and private landowner contributions), and supported with technical expertise from Coalition members, we have permanently protected more than 6,300 acres. Protected lands are being managed by Maine Dept of Inland Fisheries, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, Lower Kennebec Regional Land Trust, and Phippsburg Land Trust. The Coalition submitted a fifth Large NAWCA grant and a National Coastal Wetland Grant in the spring of 2006 to continue building a network of contiguous protected lands in the region.

Greater Pleasant Bay

Aerial photo of Pleasant Bay.
Aerial photo of Pleasant Bay. Credit: USFWS

High biological productivity, extensive intertidal mudflats and the still relatively pristine nature of the shoreline support outstanding concentrations of wintering and migrating black ducks, other waterfowl, wading birds and migratory shorebirds in Maine. Nesting islands in the region provide important habitat for bald eagles and seabirds, including some species that nest in no other states in our country. Rivers in the region provide habitat for searun fish, including river herring, shad, smelt, searun brook trout and federally endangered Atlantic salmon. Although significant work has already been carried out to protect offshore islands in the region, 25 of the 48 nationally significant nesting islands have no permanent protection. In addition, relatively little of the highest value habitat for wintering and migratory waterbirds, concentrated in the long, narrow tidal embayments, has been protected. Key shorefront parcels are now being discovered by developers, bought and subdivided for second homes, creating negative impacts on abutting wetlands that may threaten waterbird habitat values.

In 2004, the Maine Wetlands Protection Coalition submitted its first Large NAWCA proposal to help protect additional nesting islands and the tidal embayments in the Greater Pleasant Bay region. The $650,000 grant, in combination with non-federal matching funds is being used by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Greak Auk Land Trust and Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge to permanently protect 878 acres. The Coalition submitted a second $950,000 Large NAWCA grant in the spring of 2006 to continue protecting waterbird habitat in the region.

Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership

Photo of a kayaker.
Kayaker. Credit: USFWS

This ambitious landscape-scale project, completed in 2005, protected 342,000 acres – including 30,099 acres in fee ownership by the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, and 312,000 acres with a conservation easement transferring development rights from a limited liability investment company to the New England Forestry Foundation. The project protects 445 miles of shoreline on over 60 lakes and ponds and includes more than 54,000 acres of wetlands. Partners raised $35 million to complete this project, which permits sustainable forestry operations on most of the property and maintains undeveloped lands to support traditional economies and lifestyles in the region. Downeast Lakes Land Trust and New England Forestry Foundation received federal funding from multiple sources – a $1 million Large NAWCA grant, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funds, and oil spill settlement funds from Rhode Island.

The region supports large numbers of nesting black duck, at least 150 pairs of common loon, numerous bald eagle nests and 75 documented species of breeding birds. The lands support numerous furbearers, and a project of this scale is likely crucial to the long-term viability of Canada lynx and potentially, to the long-term recovery of gray wolf and cougar in northern Maine.

Small NAWCA grants

Bryant Island, Deer Meadow Brook, Newcastle

Picture of Bryant Island.
View of Bryant Island. Credit: USFWS

Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association (SVCA) received a $47,000 Small North American Grant to permanently protect Bryant Island, located in one of mid-coast Maine’s most ecologically significant tidal estuaries. The Small NAWCA grant provided matching funds needed to protect 52 acres of salt water tidal marshes and 73 acres of forested upland that empty into the Sheepscot River – a region of high value habitat for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds and searun fish. This project was part of a larger land effort that protects nearly 1000 acres of contiguously protected land. This remarkably pristine area is located close to the state’s largest population centers and like so many other places in Maine, its habitat values are threatened with increasing development pressures.

Crowley Island, Addison

Photo of Crowley Island.
Crowley Island. Credit: USFWS

Pleasant River Wildlife Foundation received a $50,000 Small North American Grant to help permanently protect Crowley Island. Crowley Island is located in Pleasant Bay, a region of downeast Maine long recognized for its exceptionally high value habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, diadromous fish and federally endangered/threatened species. The Small NAWCA grant provided funds to help protect 183 acres of the island, along with 129 acres of adjoining salt marsh and tidal mudflats, and 10,700 feet of shorefront. The southern quarter and northeastern quarter of Crowley Island had previously been protected by conservation easements, and this grant helped protect another quarter of the island. Connected to the mainland by a bridge, Crowley Island has relatively great development potential, so this land protection effort is particularly important in maintaining undisturbed habitat.

Lobster Cove Meadow and Penny Lake, Boothbay Harbor

Photo of Lobster Cove.
Lobster Cove. Credit: USFWS

Boothbay Region Land Trust received a $50,000 Small NAWCA grant to help fund the permanent protection of Lobster Cove Meadow and Penny Lake, the only two major freshwater wetlands in Boothbay Harbor. The 65.8 acres of wetlands, fields and wooded upland buffer protected with the grant and other matching funds offer significant habitat values for waterbirds and other migratory species. Both properties offer excellent passive recreation and outreach opportunities for residents and visitors. Lobster Cove Meadow has been part of a local trail system for more than 50 years, and Penny Lake is bordered by public schools, the YMCA and two retirement complexes. In 2005, a boardwalk trail was constructed to Penny Lake, making its wetland values more accessible. Prior to their permanent protection, both wetlands had been threatened by filling and development.

Last updated: September 5, 2013

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