Beloved Views Protected on MDI

So often land conservation goes unnoticed. We still catch a glimpse of open land and sparkling water on the way to work; vernal pools still appear and fill with life every spring, and deer still bed down in the woods every winter. We’re not inclined to notice what doesn’t change—and who can blame us? 

This less noticeable conservation work is often the result of conservation easements, which are legal agreements between a landowner and a land trust to permanently restrict development on an extraordinary piece of land and protect its natural integrity in perpetuity. These privately-owned lands might provide important refuge for wildlife, or be a key component of a larger ecosystem; or they might offer a special view and a sense of place to all who pass by. (Or all of the above.)

At the tail end of 2018 and in early in 2019, landowners worked with Maine Coast Heritage Trust to donate easements on two very special properties on Mount Desert Island, limiting future development, and forever protecting habitat and iconic views. 

The view from Beech Mountain; Carter Nubble can be seen off to the right.

If you’ve enjoyed hiking on MDI, you’ve likely enjoyed views of a place called Carter Nubble. This hilltop is visible from many places on the west side of the island, including from Beech Mountain, Mansell Mountain, and the Long Pond Trail. Up until this past December, it was also the highest point of unprotected land on Mount Desert Island. 

When this 26-acre property was listed for sale, many were concerned about the possibility of significant development (zoning would have allowed up to eight lots and 40-foot-tall structures). Fortunately, a generous conservation buyer purchased the property and worked with MCHT to limit any future development to one carefully-sited area. Now and forever, locals and visitors to MDI can still enjoy a largely forested view of Carter Nubble.

Travelers along Route 3 in Mount Desert have long enjoyed the bucolic view of the Old Bordeaux Dairy.

Early in 2019, Marty and Russ Lunt donated a conservation easement on their special property on Somes Sound—formerly home to the Bordeaux Dairy. Where cows once roamed, the Lunts now regularly see and delight in a wide array of wildlife. “I just love nature,” says Marty Lunt, “and I want to do what I can to protect it.”

Over the years many have stopped along Route 3 to photograph or paint this view of rolling fields and water winding to the open sea, flanked on either side by the stately mountains of Acadia. It is the kind of roadside water view we sometimes take for granted, that would have eventually been lost if the landowners hadn’t decided to donate a conservation easement. 

Often MCHT acquires land and manages it as a public preserve, but these two privately-owned lands serve a different purpose. These lands are not open to the public, but thanks to the generosity of these landowners, those hiking Beech Mountain will still enjoy the forested dome of Carter Nubble, and commuters along Route 3 will still enjoy that breathtaking glimpse of Somes Sound. These natural lands are a part of the character of Mount Desert Island, and now will be for generations to come.

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