UNION and WALDOBORO — “With views of the White Mountains, Muscongus Bay, and the Camden Hills, Clarry Hill is an iconic landscape where agriculture, wildlife, recreation, and Maine’s natural splendor converge,” said Midcoast Conservancy, in a news release.
On September 15, Midcoast Conservancy purchased the 263-acre property from Coastal Blueberry Services to conserve its habitat value and to support the region’s working landscapes. Maine Farmland Trust simultaneously purchased an agricultural easement on the property.
“Clarry Hill is a unique landscape that celebrates the best of Maine,” said Pete Nichols, the executive director of Midcoast Conservancy. “A first-time visitor would immediately notice the incredible views, but more importantly, the property is lush with blueberry barrens that reflect one of our state’s heritage crops, and it supports habitat for threatened bird species. We are excited to conserve this gem for the people of the state of Maine, maintain sustainable working landscapes in the region, and improve the habitat.”
Both organizations had long held interest in the property. When it came up for sale in late 2022, they moved quickly to protect it, raising philanthropic funds to assist in the effort.
Maine Farmland Trust assisted in the project by purchasing an agricultural easement on the property.
“Clarry Hill has been on our radar for years,” said Amy Fisher, president and CEO of Maine Farmland Trust. “This is a regionally known landscape that consists of 70% blueberry barrens, with hilltop views that make it highly vulnerable to development. With the community’s enthusiastic support for this project, we’re thrilled that future farmers will be able to continue growing wild blueberries at Clarry Hill, preserving its place in Maine’s wild blueberry industry forever.”
Adam Bishop, VP of Programs for Maine Farmland Trust, was the organization’s project manager for the Clarry Hill easement. He added, “Maine’s wild blueberry harvest is especially susceptible to fluctuations in weather and growing conditions and like so many types of farming, cost inputs have gone up while market prices have remained flat, leaving wild blueberry land particularly vulnerable to nonagricultural development. Protecting this resource is vital for supporting the industry, the farmers in the region, and the future of this important Maine crop.”
Midcoast Conservancy’s acquisition of this parcel adds to the existing 87-acre Clarry Hill Preserve that is a destination for bird enthusiasts from around the state and region, according to the release. Midcoast Conservancy is also working closely with Hog Island Audubon on this project, as they visit the site frequently as part of their nature programming.
Chris Schorn, Director of Land Conservation & Ecology for Midcoast Conservancy, recognizes the significance of this project.
“Anyone who has visited Clarry Hill knows that the importance of this project speaks for itself,” said Schorn. “There are few other places in the Midcoast that offer such stunning views while also providing a working landscape and vital habitat for rare and threatened species. I could not be more excited to work to conserve this landscape – not only for the sake of what is already there, but for the community connections to this place that we can help grow and safeguard into perpetuity.”
About Midcoast Conservancy: Midcoast Conservancy is an innovative conservation organization with the mission to protect and restore vital lands and waters on a scale that matters. We do this through land conservation, water protection, and connecting people to the outdoors. Our organization serves a 28 town / 450 square mile area of rural Lincoln and Waldo counties, and has a membership of approximately 2,500. More at: www.midcoastconservancy.org
About Maine Farmland Trust: Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide, member-powered nonprofit working to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance the future for farming. Since its founding in 1999, MFT has permanently protected over 350 farms and has helped to keep over 68,000 acres of farmland in farming and support a network of over 500 farms with critical services. More at www.mainefarmlandtrust.org