Land trust seeks to preserve Clark Island

Nov 29, 2017
Courtesy of: Ken Woisard Photography Maine Coast Heritage Trust is working to conserve Clark Island in St. George.

Topsham — Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a statewide land conservation organization, is working to assure permanent public access to the majority of 175-acre Clark Island in the town of St. George. MCHT has entered into an option agreement with the current landowners, which gives it until March of 2020 to raise the $4.8 million required to purchase and assure its long-term future as a public preserve. If successful, this effort will result in 85 percent of the island being permanently protected, with 120 acres secured for public access.

Clark Island has long been a destination for people who live in and visit the Midcoast as a place to walk, hike and beachcomb while enjoying the natural surroundings. According to a Nov. 27 press release from MCHT, the current landowners hope to sell Clark Island to MCHT to conserve it, and ensure that the tradition of public access and recreation they have voluntarily granted for decades will be permanently assured.

The original settlement of the island dates back to the 1780s, and quarrying operations began in the 1830s. By 1890, 100 stonecutters and their families, plus supporting crews of quarrymen and sculptors, along with 51 children, lived on Clark Island. In 1892, the town of Saint George paid for a granite causeway from the mainland to Clark Island, and by 1900, 400 people – 300 of them stone cutters – were employed in the quarry operation. Today the island is mostly undeveloped, with just a few remaining residences.

More recently, the island has been a destination for those seeking unique  recreational experiences. Visitors can access the island by boat or via the granite causeway from the mainland to enjoy hiking, birding, hunting, beachcombing, swimming, kayaking and cross-country skiing. The island trails have been used in the past for organized birding trips and annual artist retreats. As one of the few remaining unfragmented coastal habitat blocks in the region, Clark Island supports a diversity of marine and terrestrial wildlife as well.

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