2014-01-13 / Front Page

Gormans gift island off Yarmouth to Trust

Leon L. Bean hunted on 28-acre island with sand beaches
The Times Record

TOPSHAM

Leon and Lisa Gorman have gifted Lanes Island near the mouth of the Royal River in Yarmouth to Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a statewide land conservation organization based in Topsham.

Land Trust officials said the gift of Lanes Island is the "latest chapter in its ongoing island protection efforts in Casco Bay, including two active projects to conserve part of Clapboard Island in Falmouth and the Goslings Islands in Harpswell," according to a news release.

Leon Gorman's grandfather, Leon L. Bean hunted on the island in the 1930s with renowned decoy carver George Soule. The 28-acre island is easily accessed from the mainland, and has
more than a mile of shoreline, including sand beaches, Trust officials said this morning.

"For those of us who live and work near Casco Bay, we understand what a precious resource the islands are," said MCHT President Tim Glidden.  "With more people realizing what a unique quality of life and place there is in this region, it is essential that we continue the important work of maintaining and expanding public access to the land. 

"We are grateful to Leon and Lisa Gorman for their vision and generosity in making this gift."  

Gorman began acquiring fractional interests in the island in 1968 and came into complete ownership in 2010, Glidden said.

As part of the region stretching from Maquoit and Middle Bays to the head of tide in the Royal River, Lanes has been recognized by the state as ecologically significant, due to the high concentration of waterfowl and shorebirds there. 

The island is also home to nesting bald eagles, and is surrounded by productive mudflats used by local clammers. 

"The conservation of Lanes Island is a great help to all of us working to restore and protect the Royal River, its connection to Casco Bay, and the economic vitality of Yarmouth's harbor," said Eugenie Francine, president of the Royal River Conservation Trust Board of Directors. "Our gratitude to the donors and to Maine Coast Heritage Trust cannot be overstated."

In the coming months, the Trust will consult with others to help inform the creation of a long-term management plan for the island that seeks to balance ecological protection with opportunities for public recreation including visits by small boat, exploration and duck hunting. 

"This is  great news for all who love Casco Bay," said Roger Berle, Cliff Island resident and longtime conservationist.  "Lanes is a special place and it's great to know it will continue to be a home for wildlife as well as a place that people can enjoy."

MCHT is working to protect a number of other Casco Bay islands with the goal of securing permanent public access. 

In Harpswell, MCHT is working to purchase The Goslings, two small islands with a long tradition of public use granted by the current landowner who now wishes to sell the islands.  If successful in this effort, MCHT will create a public preserve, guaranteeing continued access to this beloved recreational destination.  The islands would complement a recent conservation easement donation on neighboring Lower Goose Island. 

Since 1970, Maine Coast Heritage Trust says it has helped conserve more than 141,000 acres in Maine, from the Isles of Shoals to Cobscook Bay, including more than 300 entire coastal islands.


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