Islesboro Islands Trust acts as an environmental advocate for Islesboro and the surrounding Penobscot Bay region. As a Trustee once said, IIT is “the environmental conscience of the community.” This is most often evident in a variety of island partnerships and watershed connections. IIT will occasionally engage in local and regional environmental issues of considerable controversy and importance.
IIT supports Islesboro municipal efforts that have a conservation or environmental component. Beginning in 1985 with a grant to the Town of Islesboro for help with its comprehensive plan, IIT has helped fund or otherwise supported shellfish, groundwater protection, GIS and additional municipal planning. Working with the Islesboro Harbor Committee, IIT purchased Warren’s Landing for public access to the shore. In 2015 wehelped organize the Islesboro Health Fair and supported the Historical Society’s climate change event. IIT sponsors the Islesboro Energy Team and helps the Islesboro Forum find speakers with ecological expertise.
The Penobscot Bay Land Trust Alliance, a very loose coalition of eleven land trusts in the region, began in 1991 when IIT and the Island Heritage Trust of Deer Isle called these like-minded groups together. In 1992 IIT joined with several governmental and nongovernmental organizations to form the Penobscot Bay Network, which went on to sponsor three regional conferences and other regional initiatives. In 2016, IIT led fifteen organizations in planning and presenting the Penobsot Watershed Conference and provided support for an ecosystem-wide analysis called the Fresh and Salt Water Fisheries Research Project.
Consistent with IIT’s mission and its history of championing local planning and thoughtful land use regulation, we actively opposed the environmentally suspect components of a Northeast Point development plan in the community. Chief concerns revolved around adverse impacts to wetlands, significant wildlife habitat, public scenic value and most especially groundwater.
IIT spearheaded a successful partnership with the Sierra Club of Maine, the Conservation Law Foundation and other Maine environmental organizations and stopped the construction of a major cargo port on Sears Island between 1989 and 1996. In 2004, IIT learned of secret state negotiations to use Sears Island for a LNG terminal and energized efforts to expose and then eliminate that threat. Subsequently, IIT and others permanently protected approximately 600 acres of Sears Island for education, recreation and public access usesIn 2012 and 2013, IIT worked with local grassroots groups to prevent a large propane storage tank from being built in Seasport. IIT, local lobstermen and others thwarted a proposal by the Maine Department of Transportation and the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge nearly one million cubic yards of sediment, some contaminated with heavy metals and carcinogens, and dispose of it just off Islesboro’s northwest shore between 2013 and 2014.