Gulf of Maine Coastal Program
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2008 Archives

Aerial view of Vinalhaven
Vinalhaven. Credit: Caroline Norden/MCHT

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds seven Maine habitat protection projects

March 28, 2008

Project Coordinator:
Stewart Fefer

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that conservation groups in Maine will receive $375,000 to support five habitat protection initiatives through the Small North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant program. In addition, two habitat protection projects (totaling $150,000) were recommended for funding to be awarded after approval by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission in June. Each of these grants will receive $75,000 - the maximum amount allowed through this program. In each case, the federal funds are being matched with other funding sources. "Through the great efforts of many conservation partners, the seven Maine projects will permanently protect over 2,500 acres of wetlands and upland buffer that hold high value for waterbirds and other migratory birds," commented Ken Elowe, Chairman of the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture and Director of Resource Management for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Lands protected with these funds are located throughout Maine from Vinalhaven Island to Fryeburg, in the foothills of the White Mountains.

Local and regionally based land trusts and national conservation organizations have worked in coordination with state and federal biologists to identify habitat protection opportunities, negotiate with willing landowners, raise matching funds and finalize the nationally competitive grant proposals. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gulf of Maine Coastal Program staff supported several of these grant proposals by providing and interpreting biological data, offering strategic advice and guidance, writing biological components of the grant, editing draft proposals, and providing final maps and wetland calculations.

This year's successful Small NAWCA projects in Maine include the following:

The Basin - Vinalhaven: The Basin, located on the west side of Vinalhaven Island in Penobscot Bay, Knox County, Maine is known statewide for its ecological and scenic importance. The Basin is a five hundred acre enclosed tidal waterbody, approximately one mile long. It encompasses a great diversity of natural communities with a mix of forested uplands and wetlands, rocky pitch pine ledges, streams, and intertidal habitats with high priority tidal waterfowl and wading bird habitat and seal haul-out areas. This project will permanently protect 455 acres, 107 acres (23%) of which are wetlands. Vinalhaven Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust are project coordinators for this habitat protection effort.

Hamilton Audubon Sanctuary - West Bath: This project submitted by Maine Audubon is located on the Back Cove of the New Meadows River, virtually all of which consists of tidal wetlands that are considered exceptionally high value habitat. The project will permanently protect salt and freshwater wetlands and forested uplands, including 8,770 feet of shoreline and 58 acres of wetland. Also protected will be 91 acres of forest and meadow that buffer these high value coastal wetlands.

South Pond Conservation Area - Buckfield: The Western Foothills Land Trust's South Pond Conservation Area project will, via a combination of fee ownership and easement, protect in perpetuity 1,279 acres of wildlife habitat in Buckfield, Maine. The South Pond Conservation Area will include 383 acres of shrub and red-maple dominated forested wetlands, 230 acres of wading bird and waterfowl breeding habitat, and over 8,000 feet of shoreline on a 49-acre undeveloped pond and freshwater stream habitat. In addition, the forested uplands include early successional mixed forest, steep rocky ledges, and 85 acres of deer wintering habitat.

Upper Saco River II - Fryeburg: This Upper Saco River Project will result in the protection of rare forest floodplain habitat that could otherwise become fragmented under future ownership. This project fits into a larger habitat protection effort that includes over 5,000 acres of protected habitat. Partners include The Nature Conservancy, Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, Saco River Corridor Commission and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funded Landowner Incentive Program also contributed to this project. The project will create a uniform and permanent easement on 512 acres (including 456 acres of valuable wetlands), thus preventing damage to critical habitat values and water quality.

St. George River Coastal Wetlands - South Thomaston: This project will permanently protect 91 acres of habitat along the St. George River, 62% of which is wetlands. The area proposed for permanent protection includes uplands and surrounding wet meadows, which often have standing water and are frequently used by ducks and geese. The fields also provide suitable habitat for grassland species, including killdeer, eastern meadowlark, horned lark, and northern harrier. Freshwater streams cross the properties, draining into the estuary of the St. George River. The project also includes extensive coastal mudflats, which are highly suited to waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds. The Georges River Land Trust partnered with Maine Coast Heritage Trust and others for this important habitat protection project.

Cathance River: Head of Tide - Topsham: This project encompasses the head of tide area for the Cathance River including the waterfall that separates the tidal from the non-tidal portions of the river. The site is bound by over 1,000 feet of shore frontage, and is directly associated with a submerged freshwater tidal vegetated wetland of more than 12 acres. The Town of Topsham is taking the lead in this important project that includes many partners.

Chauncey Creek - Kittery: The Chauncey creek project is located on the southwestern-most coast of Maine in the Town of Kittery. More specifically, the parcel is situated along Chauncey Creek on the northwest corner of Gerrish Island. The south end of the focus area on Gerrish Island is a complex mosaic of upland forests, pocket swamps and vernal pools. This large undeveloped assemblage of habitats is potential habitat for a number of rare plants and animals. A conservation easement will conserve 16 of those acres: 14 acres of upland forest, 2 acres of freshwater wetlands and vernal pools, and 2000 feet of undeveloped shoreline on Chauncey Creek. The Kittery Land Trust submitted this application with many federal, town and private partners.

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Two National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grants awarded in Maine

Aerial view of Ragged Island
Ragged Island. Credit: USFWS

January 9, 2008

Project Coordinator:
Stewart Fefer

In January, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant program delivered $923,700 to two projects in Maine to support the work of the Maine Wetlands Protection Coalition. $600,000 was awarded to permanently protect important coastal wetland and upland buffer habitat in the Ingallshore Conservation Project, Tremont, and $323,000 was awarded to permanently protect Ragged Island, an important seabird nesting island in Casco Bay, Town of Harpswell. Maine Coast Heritage Trust(MCHT), a statewide land trust, holds options to purchase conservation easements on both properties. "Receiving these funds allows us to move forward towards permanent protection of these valuable properties," noted David MacDonald, Interim President of MCHT, "If all goes well, we hope to close on these easements later this year."

The federal grant for Ingallshore will help enable the acquisition of a conservation easement on 137 acres located on the southwest tip of Mount Desert Island. "This valuable wetland and upland with more than two miles of shorefront is very important fish and wildlife habitat and, if protected, will add significantly to protected lands in this area," commented Brian Reilly of Maine Coast Heritage Trust. The area is especially significant for waterbirds as the area consists of preferred beach, mudflat and salt marsh habitat amidst the steep and rocky coastline found on most of Mount Desert Island. Part of the conservation area will be open to public access for wildlife viewing and education. Partners in this project include the landowners, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited and US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The second $323,000 Coastal Wetland grant was awarded to permanently protect Ragged Island in Casco Bay, Harpswell, Maine. This 80 acre island in outer Casco Bay supports a large and diverse population of nesting seabirds, including eider ducks, black guillemots, greater black-backed gulls, herring gulls and osprey. MCHT hopes to purchase a conservation easement with the grant funds to secure the protection of the 76.6 acre natural area used by the seabirds for nesting. MCHT will also acquire an easement on the remaining 3.4 acres. "This protection of Ragged Island is extremely important because of Ragged Island's exceptional habitat in southern coastal Maine, an area with significant development pressure and loss of habitat" commented Stewart Fefer, Project Leader at the US Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program. The easement, if acquired will guarantee public access to a beach area on the island as long as activities do not interfere with nesting seabirds. Partners in this project include the landowners, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Trustees of the Julie N Oil Spill Settlement Fund, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Ducks Unlimited and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Last updated: February 28, 2020

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