Issue 57: Monroe Island – Preserving the Future

By: David Warren

If you’ve been to Owls Head you’ve seen Monroe, the large, spruce­covered island that sits so close to shore, beckoning.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT), a statewide non­profit land trust with a focus on protecting coastal properties and islands, hopes that soon you will be able to act on your impulse to discover and explore Monroe. Right now, MCHT is fundraising to acquire Monroe Island and open it to the public as a preserve.

As you might imagine, conserving and creating an island preserve is not an inexpensive endeavor. The total cost is $1.9 million to turn all 225 acres of Monroe Island into a public preserve, which will be open to the public and stewarded by MCHT in perpetuity.

Fortunately, fundraising for Monroe got off to a strong start with a deeply meaningful and tremendously generous bequest gift from a local woman who wanted to help conserve an island near where she lived on the coast. Long­time Maine Coast Heritage Trust donors and others in the local community have also stepped up with generous gifts. Still, the goal hasn’t been met and the option to purchase the island runs out this summer.

To help in the final phase of fundraising for Monroe Island, a special opportunity was announced earlier this year. If MCHT can raise $150,000 from the Midcoast community, the Partridge Foundation will match that amount dollar­-for­-dollar.

Currently, nearly $114,000 has been raised toward the goal of $150,000 to receive the matching gift from the Partridge Foundation. MCHT is very thankful to all of those who have made a gift for Monroe. Generous donations ranging from $25 to $25,000 have been provided – including one from the Owls Head Garden Club!

In addition to making Monroe’s fabulous trail network, beaches, meadows, ponds, and campsites accessible to all, MCHT is also now working with the town to create a mainland waterfront park and boat launch site. You’ll be able to put in a boat and paddle to Monroe before your Rock City coffee gets cold!

As Dick Carver, fishermen and former Owls Head selectman, says, “You’re always worried about the town losing revenue when land is conserved, but in this case the upsides far outweigh the down. We’re not making any more land, but there are a lot more people, and waterfront property is only going to become more expensive to put into conservation to make sure it’s available for everyone.”

There’s a wonderful opportunity at hand right now – for the Midcoast community to come together with gifts of all sizes to be part of creating one of the single largest publicly accessible island preserves on the coast of Maine. Every dollar counts toward the $150,000 match. If successful, current and future generations will always be able to enjoy this special Maine island.

If you are interested in learning more about MCHT’s effort to conserve Monroe Island and possibly helping out with a contribution – or if you know someone who might– please contact David Warren at dwarren@mcht.org or 522-­9228.