Former board president Al Creighton passed away peacefully at the age of 100 on September 17th. He is survived by his wife Hilary of 57 years, four children, and several grand-children.
Al’s passion was preserving open space, and his leadership in this area was influential and ahead of its time. He encouraged conservation organizations to be aggressive in protecting land; to reach out, inform, and encourage landowners; and to establish working partnerships with land trusts and state agencies.
Although Al was well-traveled, it was his summers in Vinalhaven that he treasured most of all. He would, along with his children spend hours cutting paths on their property, giving them such names as “Skelton Gulch” or “Double Diamond”. In 1986, Al was instrumental in helping to establish Vinalhaven Land Trust. He served on the board from 1986-2008, and as president for many of those years. The resource room at Skoog Park is named in honor of both Al and Hilary. He played a big role in VLT’s first conservation projects, both easement and owned properties, and even after he stepped down from the board, he encouraged and often generously supported VLT’s acquisition and protection of many of our well-loved preserves. He also helped start or had a leadership role in other conservation organizations, such as the Manchester Conservation Trust (MECT), Essex County Greenbelt Organization, and was a long-time board member of Maine Coast Heritage Trust.
Vinalhaven will miss Al, but his memory will live on for generations to come in all the beautiful land he worked hard to protect for us all to enjoy.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Robert Schoenherr, has arrived on the story trail. Written in 1987 and the recipient of many awards, including the Caldecott Metal for its illustrations.
The story is about a father that takes his young daughter owling on a cold winter's night for the first time. Along their way, they encounter a great horned owl. A peaceful story with beautiful watercolor illustrations for the whole family.
Come take a leisurely hike to the shores of the Basin while following this lovely story. The full-color pages are framed and mounted on granite boulders and ledges along the path, tucked neatly into the natural landscape so you can appreciate our island's nature while delving into this sweet father daughter tale.
This family friendly trail is perfect for readers of all ages. Find it at location 2C on our trail map.
The biggest news of the year was opening the Marcuse Wetland Preserve to the public, complete with a half-mile loop trail, boardwalks, benches, kiosk, preserve brochure, and a parking lot for visitors. We had two very well-attended programs there this summer with Nat Wheelwright and Javier Peñalosa as presenters. Special thanks to David “Tiny” Arey, who did a bang-up job on the parking lot there, as well as an enlargement of the parking lot at our Whitmore Pond Sanctuary. Hikers should bear in mind that the forest and swamp at Marcuse have long been popular spots for island hunters, and that’s a tradition VLT wants to see continue. So, put on your orange vest and hat before you venture out on the trails this fall.
Benches were an especially big item this year. We now have benches at fifteen different scenic locations around the island, if you count the picnic table at Skoog Park (which the public is always welcome to use, by the way). Whether you’re just looking to take a load off your feet and enjoy the view for a minute, or planning to sit for half an hour with a book or binoculars, the benches can add a lot to your hiking experience.
We also keep trying to make the trails safer. This includes widening them slightly to reduce the chances of hikers getting ticks, but also addressing things like steep grades and water crossings. We’ve rebuilt a set of steps at Granite Island, and we’ve also heard many thank-you’s regarding the set of timber steps at the steep pitch on Tip Toe Mountain’s loop trail. We’ve cut a new section of trail that allows hikers easier and safer access to the summit of Big Tip Toe, with a bench near the top where one can sit and enjoy the view of the Fox Island Thorofare and the Camden Hills beyond.
At the Andrew Smith (Fox Rocks) Preserve, landowner Louisa Ives has graciously allowed us to install two benches as well. One is at the high point of the property and will offer gorgeous panoramic views as the fall foliage gets colorful; the other looks down on Perry Creek from high ledges, and is a great place to sit and watch the ospreys and eagles at work.
These are the high points of this year’s trail work, but it’s good to also remember the basics—old bridging has been replaced, signs and on-site maps have been freshened, and as always friends of VLT have been great about volunteering to help us keep the brush back and the fallen branches picked up. We always smile when we see that some conscientious hiker has been trampling the rogue bracken ferns along a trail’s edge, so that they don’t spread their fronds out over the trail; or breaking back balsam fir tips that are crowding in on a trail. We welcome, and really appreciate, everyone’s help in this regard.
Thank you to all who participated in making our 33rd Annual Meeting a success. The weather was lovely, the company wonderful, and the food and refreshments a complete treat.
This year, VLT steward Kerry Hardy was our speaker. Ask Kerry Hardy what he “does for work,” and you’re liable to get a very long explanation that involves a lot of different disciplines—writing, art, history, ecology, linguistics, and of course making maps and clearing trails for Vinalhaven Land Trust. You might also get an earful about his other ventures, like working with Maine’s Indian tribes or with other historians across the Northeast; or testifying in Augusta at public hearings on environmental issues. In short, almost anything that involves land and the creatures that live on it, including people, is of interest to him—and sharing those interests and insights with others is the essence of his work.
Stone tools like this adze, used for making dugout boats thousands of years ago along Maine's coast.
The Land for Maine’s Future Coalition, the Maine Land Trust Network, and L.L. Bean are encouraging people to enjoy Maine’s Great Outdoors this summer and beyond. There are many ways for you to participate. Begin by visiting mainepassport.org and requesting your Passport to Maine’s Outdoors. Featuring 36 conserved destinations around the state, the passport invites you to visit LMF-conserved properties, land trust preserves, and public lands in Maine. There are destinations located in all sixteen counties. While exploring the website, look for information on hundreds of other conserved areas you can explore with friends and family.
The website also provides an opportunity to enter a drawing for prizes donated by L.L. Bean, including a deluxe camping set, trail chairs, and tote bags. Winners will be chosen at random in the fall. There is no purchase necessary. To enter the drawing, one simply needs to enter their name, email address, and the name of their favorite passport destination by October 8, 2018.
Every day you enjoy a conserved property in Maine this year, be sure to share your adventures on Instagram with #MainesGreatOutdoors. Visit a photo gallery at landformainesfuture.org/gallery/ to view images from others discovering the incredible beauty of Maine’s conserved lands.
Granite Island Preserve, photo by Norbert Lesser
Vinalhaven Land Trust is proud to announce that its accreditation as an officially recognized land trust has been renewed by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, a program that promotes the highest national standards for ensuring permanence in the conservation of American lands. The accreditation seal we have been awarded recognizes VLT's sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship of our lands.
This recognition would not have been possible without the support of our members and community. Thank you for helping to conserve the nature of Vinalhaven.
The Maine Department of Marine Resources have brought the third batch of mature alewives to rebuild the spawning run on Vinalhaven. Dropped into Old Harbor Pond in late May, these adult fish will quickly spawn in the shallows before heading back out to sea. Their juveniles will stick around until August, when they will have grown large enough to start their own four-year odyssey through the ocean, before returning once more to repeat the spawning cycle on Vinalhaven.
Keep an eye on the pond this summer for some great wildlife activity. While they spawn, you'll see the water boil with moving fish, a sure sign that otters, loons, cormorants, ospreys, herons, and eagles will be dropping in for a snack.
Photo by Sheri Romer-Day
Established by Maine voters in 1987, the Land for Maine’s Future program has since conserved more than 150 special places, totaling over 600,000 acres. As the State of Maine's primary funding vehicle for conserving land, the program has made Maine a more desirable place to live while strengthening some of the state’s most important industries, including tourism, forest products, agriculture, and fishing. Unfortunately, the program has faced political setbacks over the past few years and needs public support to ensure that it can continue helping land trusts like us invest in Maine's future by preserving its nature.
Show your support for conservation and this important state program by getting out and enjoying the incredible work that LMF has accomplished. Learn more about the program, its projects and its hopes for the future at landformainesfuture.org.
You might remember the talk Dr. Heather Deese of the Island Institute gave in 2015 that explored the causes and consequences of tides. She recently recommended a brand new book by Jonathon White to all VLT members and island residents. The book, titled "Tides: Science and Spirit of the Ocean," chronicles White's voyages across the world--from the Arctic Circle to the Qiantang River in China--and comments on the implications of tides on cultures and societies around the globe. Learn more about this relevant read at the author's website: jonathanwhitewriter.com.
Low Tide Walk, with Amy Palmer
You can keep up to date with the latest "sightings" on Vinalhaven by following Kirk Gentalen's Sightings Report. Kirk reports his findings with enthusiasm and humor, and welcomes your observations, photos, and questions. His blog is jointly sponsored by Vinalhaven Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust.
We're not the only ones getting outside and active to make the most of this warm weather. Ticks are plentiful in Vinalhaven, and where there are ticks, there is Lyme Disease. Read more about Lyme Disease here. Don't forget to perform frequent tick checks on yourself, your friends, and your pets, and follow these rules to help avoid ticks altogether:
Read here about other types of ticks found in Maine.
When the flag is up, visitors are welcome in the office to peruse the many maps of island ecology and visit the Al and Hilary Creighton Resource Room. Official office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
12 Skoog Park, PO Box 268, Vinalhaven, ME 04863, US
Vinalhaven Land Trust promotes the conservation and appreciation of our island's significant plant and wildlife habitat, our water resources, and scenic or traditionally valued spaces in order to preserve the character of the community for generations to come.
Click here for membership forms.