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Great Heath


Photo: Sheep laurel - dwarf shrub bog at Great Heath

Vital Statistics

  • Size: 5,681 acres
  • Regulated: 0 acres
  • Non-Regulated: 5,681 acres
  • Upland: 1,156 acres
  • Forested Wetland (NWI): 1,075 acres
  • Non-Forested Wetland: 3,439 acres
  • Open Water: 20 acres
  • Roads: trails-4 miles
  • Biophysical Region: Eastern Interior
  • BPL Region: East
Map showing location of Great Heath Ecoreserve

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Exemplary Natural Communities

Scientific Name Common Name State Rank Global Rank
Domed Bog Ecosystem Domed Bog Ecosystem S3 GNR
Sheep Laurel - Dwarf Shrub Bog Dwarf Shrub Bog S4 G5
Huckleberry - Crowberry Bog Maritime Huckleberry Bog S3 G3G5
Bluejoint Meadow Tall Grass Meadow S3 G4G5

Rare Plants

Scientific Name Common Name State Rank Global Rank State Status
Galium labradoricum Bog bedstraw S2 G5 SC
Piptatherum canadense Canada Mountain-ricegrass S2 G5 SC
Polemonium vanbruntiae Jacob's ladder S1 G3G4 E
Photo: Image of Dragon's Mouth Orchid and Huckleberry in flower

Rare Animals

There are no documented occurrences of rare animals within this Ecoreserve. For more information on rare animals in Maine, visit the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.


At over 7,000 acres, the Great Heath is the largest peatland in the Downeast region, and it is one of the largest multiple-unit peatlands in all of Maine. It extends on both sides of the Pleasant River as it meanders through the confluence of the Taylor and Ingersoll branches in Columbia and T18 MD BPP. The Great Heath has been studied by several researchers, most notably Davis and Anderson in 1982.

Photo: Cow moose at Great Heath

Huge and diverse, this multiple-unit peatland is noteworthy for its variety of peatland types. It encompasses an unpatterned stream drainage fen, an unpatterned open basin fen, and a level bog. Morphologically, the peatland is composed of seven coalesced areas, each consisting of two or more raised units. Some of these raised units are visibly domed and exhibit concentric patterns. There are also scattered secondary pools.

The large raised portion is intermediate between coastal plateau bogs and inland raised bogs. Plants characteristic of coastal peatlands include lichen lawns, deer-hair sedge (Trichophorum cespitosum) communities, abundant black crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) and dwarf huckleberry (Gaylussacia dumosa var. bigeloviana), as well as scattered dragon's mouth (Arethusa bulbosa) and baked appleberry (Rubus chamaemorus).

Photo: Hummocks in bog at Great Heath

The geologic features surrounding the peatland complex are also outstanding. The west side of the peatland is bordered by an esker. The Pineo Ridge, a terminal moraine of a late-glacial origin, borders the south side of the peatland and grades into a glaciomarine delta. These glacial features likely played a role in the peatland's formation.


  • Calijouw, C. 1982. The Great Heath: A Natural Areas Description, Bureau of Public Lands, Augusta, Maine. 43 pp.
  Photo: Area of ecoreserve vegetation survey plot at Great Heath   Photo: Ecologists determining location of ecoreserve vegetation survey transect line at Great Heath   Photo: Ecologists surveying vegetation data along transect line at Great Heath   Photo: Ecologists surveying vegetation data along transect line at Great Heath   Photo: Ecologist pointing towards the general direction that a vegetation survey transect line will follow at Great Heath