2021 Annual Report
In 2021, Maine Coast Heritage Trust protected 16,646 acres—that’s more than the previous seven years combined. This record-breaking year was made possible by the generosity of thousands of donors.
When so much feels uncertain and fleeting, it’s satisfying to know you’re making a lasting difference for the Maine coast.
This is one thing that makes land conservation exceptional: once land is protected, it will always be protected—and it will sustain more lives and livelihoods than any of us can imagine, now and far into the future…
Together we protected 29 new places, creating more public access to the coast, supporting Maine communities, and making the coast more resilient to climate change.
More places conserved
29 places comprise 16,646 newly protected acres (nearly the size of the town of Camden!), including more than 20.85 miles of shoreline (the distance from Ellsworth to Bar Harbor!). Of those 29, 14 were partnership projects.
More lands cared for
MCHT stewardship staff monitored and cared for 41,498 acres (about the size of the city of Portland) in 2021, including maintaining over 100 miles of trail (the distance from Kittery to Damariscotta).
Click the arrows, below, to see 2021 highlights.
Not only is Erickson Fields Preserve in Rockport a great place to take a hike, it’s also a source of food for folks in the Midcoast. Members of our Teen Ag Crew and staff at Erickson Fields Preserve worked with volunteers to grow, harvest, and distribute more than 22,000 pounds of food to local hunger relief organizations in 2021.
A lot has changed over the past couple of years, but, as Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields Preserve Manager Heidi Baker says, “Cows don’t care about pandemic protocols.” Once again, baby Belted Galloways filled the barnyard and pastures last spring and, after a year hiatus, members of the Midcoast community were able to join us in-person for Calf Unveiling Day to celebrate spring and the baby Belties.
Protecting Maine’s salt marshes—including the lands surrounding them that will become marsh as sea level rises—is a priority in our effort to make Maine more resilient to climate change. To help us better understand how Maine salt marshes are responding to sea-level rise, Bates College students collected marsh core samples at Cousins River Fields and Marsh in Yarmouth, a property that will be officially purchased and transferred to MCHT in 2022.
Legislative leaders from both parties and Governor Janet Mills joined together to approve a four-year, $40 million Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) appropriation. MCHT co-led this effort and, in the coming years, land trusts, state agencies, and communities will be able to conserve dozens of publicly accessible natural areas, as well as working farms, forests, and waterfronts throughout Maine with these funds. Pictured here is the Height of Land property conserved by Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust with LMF support in 2007.
In 2017, MCHT’s Ciona Ulbrich (right) and Penobscot resident Bailey Bowden (left) began to work on a plan to restore fish passage for alewives in the Bagaduce River Watershed. Over the next five years, working with numerous partners, MCHT co-led the effort to install five nature-like fishways, bringing back thousands of the ecologically important sea-run fish. The final fishway project was completed in 2021, making the Bagaduce the first fully restored watershed for fish passage in the state of Maine.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of its former owner, who gifted the island to us, Enchanted will become our eleventh island preserve in the waters off of Stonington—an archipelago of over 50 islands beloved by boaters and paddlers the world over. Enchanted Island was first protected through a conservation easement (a legal agreement to limit development) 15 years ago. Now it’s available for people to land on and enjoy.
We’re deeply grateful to long-time volunteers like Tom Carr, who helped MCHT steward Amanda Devine with just about everything on our Midcoast preserves in 2021. One day while trail building, Tom took down a rotten leaning tree and shrimp-sized grubs came tumbling out of the hollow main trunk!
Freeport-based Maine Beer Company gave $50,000 to help protect Casco Bay’s Little Whaleboat Island (officially conserved in November of 2021) and a couple of months later released a beer by the same name to help raise awareness for MCHT’s mission. Cheers to a new public preserve in Casco Bay!
Through the conservation of a 1,700-acre property known as Schoodic Forest, we made significant progress in our effort to protect one of the last places on the Eastern Seaboard where wildlife can roam to and from rocky shores and inland woods seeking food and refuge. Large-scale conservation becomes increasingly important in a changing climate, as animals and plants will require broad swaths of land to move within to find food, water, and shelter as temperatures warm.
You gave, and we got to work. Here’s what else you made possible.
We added 5 new MCHT preserves and expanded several existing preserves by nearly 300 acres.
People flocked to our island campsites! More than 250 people booked reservable campsites and hundreds of others stayed at first-come, first-served campsites along the coast.
Interns at work
10 Maine students participated in the Richard G. Rockefeller Conservation Internship Program, pairing students interested in land conservation with land trusts throughout the state. To date, we’ve had 47 graduates of the program!
Removing invasive plants
Land stewards oversaw significant invasive plant removal projects at 5 of our preserves, in addition to monitoring and managing invasives at other preserves up and down the coast.
7 entire islands were conserved.
Erickson Fields Preserve staff, volunteers, and program participants grew 26,235 pounds of produce—86% of which was donated to hunger relief organizations. Additionally, MCHT donated 1,000 pounds of Aldermere Farm beef to local food pantries.
Every plot in our community gardens at Babson Creek, Kelley Farm, and Erickson Fields preserves—76 total—was filled!
Over the course of the year, a total of 800 people joined us at Aldermere Farm for a series of COVID-friendly events.
Stewards maintained over 100 miles of trails on our preserves for the public to enjoy.
Land trust leadership by the numbers
$40 million! After co-leading a 5-year campaign, MCHT celebrated new funding for the Land for Maine’s Future program. Governor and state legislature approved, this investment builds upon a 35-year record that has conserved more than 600,000 acres.
75 representatives of land trusts throughout the state participated in a 3-part workshop series entitled: “Learning to Do Better: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and Maine Land Trusts” coordinated by the Maine Land Trust Network, a program of MCHT.
375 participants in our first virtual Maine Land Conservation Conference gathered to discuss climate resilience, Indigenous engagement, nature-based education, and responding to increased preserve use.
Learn more about our Land Trust Program—devoted to strengthening Maine’s entire land conservation community of over 80 land trusts.
Donations by the numbers
4,410 people gave to MCHT in 2021, which is nearly 25% more than the prior year!
1,027 people gave for the first time, which is over 50% more than the number of first-time donors the prior year. (Welcome to MCHT!)
312 of you are Anchors, supporting this work with a monthly gift. (A 20% increase!)
210 of you are part of Next Wave—the next generation of land conservationists.
824 of you are members of The President’s Circle, giving $1,000 or more annually.
See your generosity in action in 2021.
We value your gift to Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and we’re making sure it goes as far as possible for the Maine coast. For every $10 MCHT spent in 2021, $9 went directly to protecting and caring for coastal lands and islands and connecting people to the coast.
Where funds come from
- Private Restricted Contributions & Grants (46%)
- Investment Draw (22%)
- Annual Fund (20%)
- Public Restricted Grants (9%)
- Other Revenue (3%)
Where funds go
- Land Acquisition $5.8 Million (41%)
- Land Protection & Stewardship $5.4 Million (39%)
- Fundraising $1.1 Million (8%)
- Administration $0.9 Million (6%)
- Public Education & Outreach $0.8 Million (6%)
Where do those funds come from?
- Private Restricted Contributions & Grants (35%)
- Investment Draw (24%)
- Annual Fund (19%)
- Public Restricted Grants (17%)
- Other Revenue (4%)
The above represents a summary of how your generous contributions were spent during 2021 and the sources of funds applied. Our 2021 audited financial statements and Form 990 will be available later in 2022. A complete set of MCHT’s 2020 audited financial statements are available at mcht.org/financials.
You may notice that the percentages in the graphic above, which are approximate, are slightly different and more accurate than what appears in the print annual report. Apologies for any confusion!
Thank you for all you did to keep the coast open, healthy, working, and beautiful.
“After an extended period of isolation, the outdoors has come to be more deeply meaningful to me. It has provided comfort and solace, perspective, and retreat in a way I hadn’t fully appreciated or depended upon.
"MCHT’s work preserving coastal lands and waterways is critical to ensuring the Earth’s scarce and precious natural resources exist in a relationship of reciprocity with us humans for generations to come.”
— Emily Bruce, Board Member