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FBC and Conservation Partners Permanently Protect Additional Harvester Access in Sullivan and Gouldsboro

May 16, 2023

Frenchman Bay Conservancy (FBC) closed on two properties in Hancock County, permanently protecting additional public access for local harvesters in Sullivan and Gouldsboro, in response to growing concerns around shoreline privatization over the past several years. 

Hancock County, ME—Frenchman Bay Conservancy (FBC) has closed on two properties that protect shoreline access along important harvesting locations: Long Cove in Sullivan and Jones Cove in Gouldsboro. The two projects are a part of FBC’s commitment to preserving access to the marine shore for local harvesters who depend on it for their livelihoods.

“As the local land trust for eastern Hancock County, we prioritize projects that can bring the most benefit to our communities,” shares Aaron Dority, FBC Executive Director. “We are glad that we can help play a role in protecting public access for our friends and neighbors who depend on it for their livelihoods.”

Details for each of the projects is included below:

Long Cove Public Access – Sullivan

The Long Cove Public Access property – a small, 1.15-acre lot with two dilapidated buildings just off of Route 1 – might not have appeared at first glance to be a high priority conservation project. But for harvesters looking for a safe place to access Long Cove and nearby mudflats, the property showed promise. 

FBC worked with stewardship and acquisition partners Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) and Schoodic National Scenic Byway Committee to acquire the property – a process that started in May 2022. MCHT initiated conversations with the landowner, before handing the project off to FBC.

“Our communities in coastal Maine are deeply tied to and dependent on the ocean—this means relying on access to the ocean,” says MCHT project manager Bob DeForrest. “We’re proud to be part of these efforts to protect traditional coastal access which create more permanent public access for everyone—including harvesters and fishermen.”

Now permanently conserved, planning will start on how to best steward the property. FBC secured funding through the Maine Outdoor Heritage fund in early May to remove the two vacant buildings later this year, leaving space to create a gravel parking lot for clammers and wormers to park safely away from the busy street. Harvesters will be able to walk directly onto the mud flats, and not have to worry about losing their private access by permission.

“This property has long been a priority to add to the Scenic Byway’s assets to preserve its waterfront,” says Barbara Shanahan, Sullivan business owner and chair of Schoodic National Scenic Byway Committee. “Our plans are simple, to improve safe parking, signage and maintain access for all to use.”

FBC has offered to transfer ownership of the property to the Town of Sullivan – a decision that will be made by the Town of Sullivan during their Annual Meeting at 7:00 PM at the Sorrento Sullivan Recreation Center on June 26, 2023. 

This project was funded in part by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, in which proceeds from the sale of a dedicated instant lottery ticket (currently Cash Lines) are used to support outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation. For more information about MOHF, go to www.maine.gov/ifw/mohf.

Jones Cove Harvester Access Property – Gouldsboro

The Jones Cove Harvester Access property was owned by two Gouldsboro residents that are very familiar with how often harvesters are losing their access by permission to private land as properties change ownership. 

“Shoreline access, particularly for traditional harvesters, is rare and precious,” they shared. “Watching clammers digging and realizing the hard work that produces the ingredients for my chowder induced me to start volunteering for the Gouldsboro Shore program. I learned what sparse access to the shore for harvesters there is in our area.”

The landowners worked with FBC to review conservation options for the property, ultimately deciding on donating the land to FBC. The property will remain permanently open for harvester access.

In the News:

Land trusts secure shore access for clammers in two towns (Ellsworth American)

Conservation gift protects Frenchman Bay clamming ground (Bangor Daily News)

Video: How groups Down East are working to secure shore access for clam harvesters (News Center Maine)