News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, December 5, 2013
Blue Hill Heritage Trust acquires Wight Pond parcel
141 acres preserved on Bagaduce Watershed

Wight Pond, newly conserved land

A southward view of Wight Pond, from McClasin Stream. Blue Hill Heritage Trust recently acquired 106 acres on Wight Pond, plus an adjacent 35 acre conservation easement. The purchase is one of a series of acquisitions aimed at preserving the Bagaduce Watershed.

Photo courtesy of Jim Dow

by Anne Berleant

As part of a series of land acquisitions aimed at preserving the Bagaduce Watershed, the Blue Hill Heritage Trust purchased 106 acres on Wight Pond last week, with an additional conservation easement on 35 adjacent acres.

The Trust had already acquired easements on the remaining abutting properties.

“This is like the last piece,” said BHHT Executive Director Jim Dow in a recent phone call.

The access point to the parcel is off McCaslin Road, which forks off of Route 199 heading toward North Penobscot.

“The whole north end of the pond is a wildlife-rich area, particularly for waterfowl and wading birds, but also for a variety of other species,” Dow said. “[It’s] an important element in the whole Bagaduce Watershed, from a wildlife perspective and other perspectives.”

The 106-acre parcel and adjoining easement was purchased by the Trust for $225,000.

“This was part of our Bagaduce Watershed Project that is in partnership with Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Conservation Trust of Brooksville, Castine and Penobscot,” said Dow.

Blue Hill Heritage Trust, MCHT and The Conservation Trust won a $1 million matching federal grant in March of 2012. The grant was awarded to the trusts to further wetland habitat conservation and land protection efforts on 1,200 acres of wetlands and buffer habitat in the Bagaduce River watershed. They must raise $1.5 million to receive the full grant amount, which may include donated land and easements.

The grant, with funds raised to match it, has paid for three previous parcels. BHHT purchased the Wallamatogus Mountain Raptor Preserve, a 273-acre parcel in Penobscot off Route 175 in 2010. It followed that up with the Great Heath in 2012, a large peat land that abuts Wallamatogus Mountain. The heath supplies fresh water to the Bagaduce River and hosts waterfowl and shorebirds.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust purchased two-acre Battle Island in 2011, which lies just above the “narrows” between Castine and Penobscot. The trusts were allowed to apply the grant retroactively to the two purchases made prior to the grant.

The Conservation Trust has helped with fundraising and has provided some easements for the Bagaduce Watershed parcels.

The Bagaduce River is a 15-mile long tidal estuarine river that empties into the town of Castine. It is home to waterfowl, shorebirds and otters, and is one of “only a few places where horseshoe crabs are known to breed,” according to Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

An access trail to Wight Pond will eventually be created off McCaslin Road, said Dow, although it’s not a high-priority project.

“It’s really wildlife protection, not a park.”