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News Feature

State of Maine
Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 9, 2018 and Island Ad-Vantages, August 9, 2018 and The Weekly Packet, August 9, 2018
MCHT fundraising campaign ‘far reaching’
Rivers, marshes, stewardship

by Anne Berleant

Maine Coast Heritage Trust announced the launch of a $125 million fundraising campaign August 2, with $90 million already raised in the “quiet phase” of its campaign, according to a MCHT press release. Of the $35 million left to reach its goal, $10 million is pledged as a matching grant. The statewide nonprofit hopes to complete its campaign by the end of 2019.

“This campaign is focused on stewardship, not land acquisition,” Senior Project Director Ciona Ulbrich said. “A lot of what we’re focused on is paying for what we already take care of.”

The campaign is already being used towards ongoing projects, like the Bagaduce River alewife fishway projects and Caterpillar Hill parcel purchase, in partnership with local land trusts.

The fishway projects fall under the Trust’s River Initiative. Another initiative is Marshes for Tomorrow, which partners with towns, local land trusts and other nonprofits “to try and really focus resources on planning ahead for future sea level rise and storm surge,” Ulbrich said. “Partnerships are key.” MCHT is currently working with the town of Stonington, which has applied for a grant to plan ahead for areas where potential sea level rise would impact roadways.

“[Stonington] knows it’s going to be really expensive to deal with infrastructure in town, if and when sea level changes,” Ulrich said.

Earmarked for stewardship is $42 million. “One of the things that land trusts have learned with time [is] taking care of land in perpetuity for use by the public, which is not always a light user, costs a lot of money, more than we anticipated,” Ulbrich said.

Bittersweet and other invasive plants mean a continual battle to keep trails clear, Ulbrich said. “Witherle Woods [in Castine] in particular is a good example where we didn’t anticipate [invasive plants] in thinking of stewardship of that place.”

The campaign “will help put some real resources behind key work [undertaken] by MCHT and with the many partners it takes to get this work done.”