A History of Success: Conservation in Coastal Mountains Land Trust’s ‘Focus Areas’
Since its founding, Coastal Mountains Land Trust has focused its efforts on conserving our region’s most spectacular landscapes. They provide wildlife habitat, clean water, clean air, and scenic vistas. They are places to find peace and explore. They define our region’s remarkable sense of place.
Because of our work, these areas remain natural and open to public use. These are our ‘focus areas’; large natural landscapes that contain the highest priorities for conservation in our service region. Conservation in focus areas is the priority of our land protection work.
We have adopted specific focus areas as the result of conservation planning, first in 1995, after we expanded our service region in 2001, and most recently in 2019. Many landowners have generously donated land and easements in these areas. Once land is identified, we usually establish a campaign to secure the land and ensure both ongoing stewardship and access.
Strategically pursuing focus areas has been tremendously successful. While there is still work to be done in each area, we have conserved the vast majority of the Ducktrap River, the Bald & Ragged Mountains, and Mount Tuck. We have conserved four properties, and have helped build the Belfast Rail Trail, along the Passy Greenway and conserved 500 acres in our Hurd’s Pond focus areas.
The Ducktrap River
As a leader of the 26 organizations in the Ducktrap Coalition, we have conserved a total of 1,941 acres along the Ducktrap River and its three major tributaries through 27 unique projects, since 1995. We have protected over 85% of the river’s shorefront. 1,136 of acres form the Ducktrap River Preserve, that is open to the public for hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, fishing, and hunting, with a further 805 acres transferred to the State of Maine or protected with conservation easements.
Bald and Ragged Mountains
Since 2003, we have conserved over 3,000 acres on Bald and Ragged Mountains, including the ridgeline of both mountains and the shores of Mirror Lake and Grassy Pond. We maintain an extensive trail network for hiking, biking, and skiing on the mountains and are currently constructing the Round the Mountain Trail on Ragged Mountain.
In the Passy Greenway, the area along the Passagassawakeag River estuary, we have created three preserves: Stover, Head of Tide, and Stephenson, all within five minutes’ drive of downtown Belfast, and helped create the Belfast Rail Trail. The Belfast Rail Trail is likely the most popular trail in Midcoast Maine, with hundreds of visitors daily, rising to thousands on busy summer days.
In and around Hurds Pond in northern Belfast and southern Swanville, we have conserved 511 acres around Hurd’s Pond and its wetland system as part of the Meadow Brook Preserve. Combined with 330 acres of land conserved with our partner, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, we are making progress to protect this special resource.
Mt. Tuck Focus Area
Since June of 2019, Coastal Mountains Land Trust has conserved 244 acres on Mt. Tuck in Prospect and Stockton Springs, adjacent to more than 1,150 acres of existing conservation land. Together, these conservation areas protect the habitat core of a 2800-acre area of undeveloped land, well-suited for public recreation, in close proximity to Route 1 and the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.