The Harpswell Heritage Land Trust exists to preserve the natural and cultural resources of Harpswell; to educate and promote the study and understanding of local natural, architectural and cultural resources; to use all resources of the Trust for the benefits of the inhabitants of the Harpswell region; and to cooperate with other organizations dedicated to the achievement of the same purposes.
As of the end of 2007, the Trust had conserved 256 acres of lands through its 11 preserves—lands the Trust owns—and 956 acres through its 18 conservation easements on privately owned lands. The Trust holds preservation easements on five historic structures. The Trust also sponsors a variety of educational and recreational events for the community, runs an annual Nature Day Camp for kids, and a Community Gardens Program.
Operating with a volunteer Board of Trustees and a part-time Executive Director and supported by membership contributions and volunteers, the Trust continues to pursue new projects designed to protect Harpswell's special places and to provide public access to Harpswell's natural world.
A Brief History
The Harpswell Heritage Trust was incorporated in 1983 by the Harpswell Historical Society. Its initial purpose was to serve as a vehicle to acquire a preservation easement on the historic Tarr-Hackett House in Harpswell Center. That house, having been purchased by the Historical Society, was sold with facade easements. The money from the sale was dedicated to a revolving acquisition fund for the new land trust.
For nine years the Trust played a supporting role to the Historical Society, which controlled the governance and the funds of the Trust through an interlocking Board of Directors. After the success of the Tarr-Hackett project in 1983, the Trust progressed steadily through the 1980's acquiring 5 new easements and 1 new preserve. As the land conservation movement in Maine and across the nation became more active, the directors realized that the missions of the two organizations were quite different. The decision was made to separate the two.
The independent Harpswell Heritage Trust came into being in 1992 with its first town-wide membership drive. At first board members acted as staff, pursuing conservation projects and developing membership. In 1999 the word "Land" was inserted in the Trust's name to reflect its primary activity of preserving lands. With part-time administrative assistance, a membership database was set up and notebooks were developed for each Trust property. The conservation work of the Trust continued throughout this period with the acquisition of 4 preserves and 6 easements.
In 2001 the Trust hired its first Executive Director. In 2002, after working out of private homes for many years, the Trust rented its first office space in Harpswell Center. Prevailing on the generosity of the Elijah Kellogg Church, board and annual meetings were held in the church's parish hall. In 2004, due to the sale of the rented office space, the Trust moved its headquarters to a rented room in the Homes and Harbors office building on Orr's Island. Conservation projects undertaken during this time included 4 new preserves and 3 new easements.
In 2006, the Trust received a gift of a 1.5 acre lot in North Harpswell on which the Trust began construction of a permanent home. Besides an office and small conference room, the Trust building contains a community meeting room for Trust educational events and programs and for use by other community groups. In 2006, the Trust also acquired one new preserve and one new easement, and initiated its Community Gardens Program. In 2007, the Trust completed construction on its permanent home and converted one of its easements into its 11th preserve.
Over the years the Trust has undertaken a variety of educational events and programs. In 1998 the Trust opened the Explore Harpswell Nature Day Camp. Held annually for children ages 7 to 11, the camp uses Trust and other properties to introduce the campers to the geography and flora and fauna of Harpswell's varied ecology. The Trust has sponsored walking and nature tours of island and mainland properties, public talks on Harpswell's natural world, and family oriented events at various properties.
In 2002-2003, the Trust ran its first capital campaign, the "Special Places for Harpswell Campaign". The goal of the campaign was to raise $1.7 million for the simultaneous acquisition of the 19 acre Skolfield Shores Preserve and the 3.5 acre Johnson Field at Mackerel Cove, both signature open spaces that were threatened with imminent development. Thanks to the dedication and generosity of its many donors and other supporters, the campaign succeeded in just 15 months. The Trust relies on annual membership contributions to meet its operating expenses.
The Trust participates in the Maine Land Trust Network and the Sagadahoc Region Rural Resource Initiative. The Trust assisted the Holbrook Community Foundation with its efforts to purchase the Cundy's Harbor landmark property of Holbrook's Wharf and preserve it as working waterfront.
Harpswell Heritage Land Trust Conserved Lands
|1983||Tarr-Hackett House||2||Harpswell Neck|
|1986||Mackerel Cove Town Lot||1||Bailey Island|
|1986||Old Union Hotel||1||Cundy's Harbor|
|1986||Whaleboat Island||63||Middle Bay|
|1990||Kellogg-Dunning House||0||Great Island|
|1990||Yarmouth Island||190||Quahog Bay|
|1994||Big Hen Island||25||Quahog Bay|
|1996||Long Reach||213||Great Island|
|1996||Liberty Farm||90||Harpswell Neck|
|1996||Shelter Island||7||Middle Bay|
|1999||Spy Rock Farm||50||Harpswell Neck|
|1999||Spruce Point||16||Harpswell Neck|
|2000||Wilson's Point||50||Harpswell Neck|
|2000||Lookout Lot||100||Harpswell Neck|
|2002||Birch Island North||52||Middle Bay|
|2004||Gallows Island||1||Middle Bay|
|2005||Charles Norton||17||Harpswell Neck|
|Total acreage under conservation easement: 911 acres|
|1988||Birch Island South||43||Middle Bay|
|1995||McIntosh Lot||1||Bailey Island (Giant Stairs)|
|1996||Doughty Point and Doughty Island||42||Great Island|
|2000||Stover's Point||4||Harpswell Neck|
|2000||Pott's Point||2||Harpswell Neck|
|2000||Long Reach Preserve||95||Great Island|
|2002||Skolfield Shores Preserve||19||Harpswell Neck|
|2002||Johnson Field||3||Bailey Island|
|2002||Crow Island||3||Middle Bay|
|2006||Houghton Graves Park||3||Orr's Island|
|2007||Hackett Land||40||Harpswell Neck|
|Total acreage under conservation preserves: 255 acres|
|Total HHLT Conserved Lands: 1166 acres|