Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 18, 2022 and The Weekly Packet, August 18, 2022
Wallamatogus Mountain conservation effort a success
Blue Hill Heritage Trust has announced that its collaborative project with Maine Coast Heritage Trust and The Conservation Fund to acquire 336-acres on Wallamatogus Mountain in the Town of Penobscot has reached its fundraising goal. The total project cost is $1.4 million: $800,000 for purchase and $600,000 for long-term care of the property and transaction costs, according to a press release.
This earlier-than-anticipated success happened because of two additional major grants for the project, including a $326,000 award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program. This award joined funds from a previously announced $400,000 Land for Maine’s Future grant as well as several private donations towards the project.
“I never dreamed we would be announcing successful completion of fundraising for this project less than a year from starting the effort,” said Hans Carlson, executive director of BHHT. “I think it speaks to the power of collaboration, not only between organizations like ours, but towns and their residents as well. This is a win for conservation and for a sense of community and place in Penobscot. We are grateful for all our partners in this effort.”
“We are delighted to help conserve Togus Mountain,” said Tom Duffus, vice president and northeast representative for The Conservation Fund. “This is critically important to people and nature. I applaud the community and Blue Hill Heritage Trust for their fundraising efforts and commitment to the future of this magnificent place of national importance to conservation.”
The Conservation Fund, a national land trust, currently owns and is holding the property for up to three years while Blue Hill Heritage Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust collaborated to raise the funds required to purchase the land and protect it in perpetuity. This fundraising effort has been a top priority for the Blue Hill Peninsula community and is part of a larger initiative by BHHT and MCHT to conserve land in the Bagaduce watershed. Now that fundraising is complete, BHHT will work with TCF and funders towards closing on the property by the end of the year.
“It’s inspiring to have the fundraising behind us. This is a project that brought together community members, land trusts, federal and state funders all in a focused, collective effort. But the work is not done—stay tuned for updates on the transaction steps, and on eventual building of trails and improvements.” notes Ciona Ulbrich, Senior Project Manager at MCHT.
The 336-acre property is on the south slope of Wallamatogus Mountain—or Mt. Togus. As visitors hike along roads through the blueberry fields, they are treated to spectacular views of Penobscot Bay, nearby coastal islands and the whole Bagaduce River watershed. There are also large areas of forest and wetlands around the field with a diverse range of habitat, and it is an important hunting spot for the community.
A committee of people from Penobscot has been assembled to help advise BHHT on how the community would like to see the property managed. Any future funds coming in from the community will make possible projects the committee would like to see happen on the property. These may take the form of a horizon map, benches or other small additions to visitor experiences.
Two community hikes will take place on Mt. Togus, in late August and in the fall. Check BHHT’s events calendar for more information.