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FBC Awarded $1 Million Grant towards Purchase of former Bar Harbor Golf Course in Trenton

February 24, 2023

Frenchman Bay Conservancy was awarded a $1 million grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for the acquisition of 216 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands in Trenton, ME in partnership with Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The future Jordan River Preserve will protect over 1 mile of vulnerable coastline from development and the property, once restored, will build climate resilience and critical wetland habitat for threatened and at-risk species. 

TRENTON, ME— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has awarded a $1 million grant to Frenchman Bay Conservancy (FBC) and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for the acquisition of 216 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitat in Trenton, ME. 

The property, previously the location of the Bar Harbor Golf Course, features over 1 mile of undeveloped shoreline, as well as tidal salt marsh and high value tidal wading bird and waterfowl habitat. The offshore mudflats are valuable as well, and mapped by Maine’s Department of Marine Resources as a seed mussel conservation area. Jordan River Bay includes over 1,200 acres of productive softshell clam and blue mussel beds.

“We plan to restore the property’s natural landscape from its past life as a manicured golf course, focusing on marsh migration and the protection of native plant and animal species that are rare, threatened, or endangered and species of concern,” says Aaron Dority, FBC’s Executive Director. “This is a unique project along the Maine coast and when completed, the preserve will be a resource not only for wildlife, but for the local community. We plan to build trails that highlight the property, while balancing conservation goals, and will ensure shoreline access for local harvesters.”

FBC hopes to close on the property later this year, but still needs $1 million to make up the remaining balance of acquisition cost, as well as funds for the extensive restoration required for the property, which could amount to a six-figure cost. At this time, additional financial partners include The Nature Conservancy in Maine, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and the Anahata Foundation.

The project is one of 21 selected in eight coastal states to protect, restore, or enhance nearly 14,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. Coastal wetlands provide vital services such as flood control, reducing coastal erosion, improving water and air quality, and recharging ground water, but are increasingly at risk due to development and climate change.

FBC is thankful for the support from U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee, and Senator Angus King, Chair of the Senate National Park Subcommittee, who announced the award earlier this month.

“Trenton is a beautiful gateway to Mount Desert Island, and protecting its ecological health is critical to the surrounding region, including Acadia National Park,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement.  “By preserving more than 200 acres, this conservation project will promote coastal resilience, safeguard native ecosystems and wildlife habitat, and provide economic benefits.”

In the News:

Defunct golf course could become wildlife habitat (Bangor Daily News)

Frenchman Bay Conservancy gets $1M for golf course property (MDIslander)

Collins, King Announce $1 Million for Conservation Project in Trenton (Sen. Susan Collins Press Page)

Former golf course to be preserved (Ellsworth American)

A win-win situation (Letter to the Editor; Ellsworth American)