Originally published in Castine Patriot, September 30, 2021 and The Weekly Packet, September 30, 2021
Wallamatogus Mountain property acquired for conservation
On September 22, the Conservation Fund announced its acquisition of the 336-acre Wallamatogus Mountain property in the Town of Penobscot, at the request of Blue Hill Heritage Trust, according to a press release. The coastal mountain property, which resides in the original homeland of the Wabanaki people, has long been a conservation priority for the Blue Hill Peninsula community. The Conservation Fund is working to pursue a permanent conservation solution for the land in collaboration with Blue Hill Heritage Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust.
“Today’s acquisition marks a critical step towards the protection of a key community resource,” said Tom Duffus, vice president and northeast representative for The Conservation Fund, as stated in the release. “Mt. Wallamatogus provides invaluable cultural, environmental, recreational and economic benefits to the Blue Hill Peninsula and the residents of the Town of Penobscot. We are committed to seeing this property protected forever.”
The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit dedicated to finding conservation solutions that make environmental and economic sense, will hold the property for up to three years while Blue Hill Heritage Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust collaborate to raise the funds required to purchase the land and protect it in perpetuity.
“When the property went on the market earlier this year, I received dozens of emails, phone calls and letters asking for us to help conserve this place for the community,” said Hans Carlson, executive director of BHHT. “It’s a daunting task—in dollars, it’s the biggest single fundraising effort we’ve undertaken in our 36-year history—but we were inspired and encouraged by the groundswell of public sentiment. With project partners like The Conservation Fund and MCHT, we will succeed.”
According to the release, Ciona Ulbrich, Senior Project Manager at MCHT, said, “This property has long been a priority to keep undeveloped and available for people to visit. By taking this key step, The Conservation Fund is giving our organizations the long-awaited opportunity to try to raise the funds to make that possible.”
The land on Wallamatogus Mountain—or Mt. Togus—has views of Penobscot Bay, nearby coastal islands and the whole Bagaduce River watershed. The project parcel includes trails through open wild blueberry fields where the view grows more stunning as you climb. The fields provide important habitat for upland sandpipers and vesper sparrows, two species in decline in Maine. There are also large areas of forest and wetlands around the field with a diverse range of habitat.
The 336 acres are near other BHHT conservation land, and together, they constitute a major block of undeveloped, unfragmented open space on Maine’s coast located minutes from Maine Maritime Academy and the historic Castine Village.
The conservation effort is a top priority for the Blue Hill Peninsula community and is part of a larger initiative by Blue Hill Heritage Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust to conserve land in the Bagaduce watershed. The local partners will fundraise jointly for BHHT’s ultimate purchase and protection of the property and for its stewardship over time.