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Bailey Island’s Mackerel Cove: A Community Landmark

By Ed Robinson

There are scenes that stick in your mind and sights that are worth visiting many times. This description certainly describes the view of Bailey Island’s Mackerel Cove from Harpswell Islands Road (Route 24). Residents and visitors alike can enjoy the picturesque view of this working harbor thanks to community-driven preservation efforts. Looking to the south toward the open ocean, we are reminded both of the iconic beauty of such coastal havens, and of their importance to traditional ways of life in Maine.

As Harpswell entered the 21st century, the 3.5-acre field over-looking Mackerel Cove was at risk of being sold for development as a private home site. Spurred by the potential loss of public enjoyment of the site, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust launched a “Special Places for Harpswell” campaign to raise funds to purchase the property. In an outpouring of commu-nity support, 850 people and the Town of Harpswell made dona-tions to the campaign. With the addition of some federal and state grants, the field was purchased in 2002.

In 2006, the field was named Johnson Field Preserve in memory of Frances and Glendon Johnson, a couple who lived on Bailey Island for many years and worked hard to preserve the unique beauty of the island, along with public access to its shoreline. Johnson Field Preserve is available for a variety of uses, including picnicking, swimming, walking on the beach and photography. The property may also be rented from HHLT for a modest fee for weddings, receptions and parking for local events. This summer has been a busy one for weddings, as this iconic spot is being discovered by more and more happy couples.

West of the field, the Town owns a nearly one-acre parcel. The Mackerel Cove Town Lot is designated as open space and is available for water-related recreational and commercial activities. There is a well-maintained parking lot here, and fishermen use a section of the lot for parking and to store small boats in the winter months. Along with a profusion of wild roses, you will also find a Red Cross Monument. Since 1986, HHLT has held a conservation easement on the lot to ensure it is never lost to public use.

For more information on Johnson Field Preserve or any of HHLT’s properties, visit the interactive map on our website, call 207-721-1121 or send an email to info@hhltmaine.org. I also encourage you to sign up for HHLT’s monthly email newsletter to hear about upcoming events, HHLT projects and to read a series of articles I write about local wildlife.

October 2014