Working Waterfront Initiative

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Case Study: Protecting a Working Dock with a Conservation Easement

York PierIn York Harbor, conservationists and commercial fishermen joined forces to purchase a dock threatened with residential home construction: now the dock serves the harbor's 30 lobstermen and 3 other fishing vessels. By purchasing an easement that protects the property's scenic value and limits its future use to commercial fishing, the York Land Trust helped make the newly built, 2,290-square-foot dock, and 0.15 acres adjoining Sewall's Bridge, affordable for two local lobstermen to acquire. Jeff Donnell, a lobster wholesaler and one of the new owners, says this was "the last piece of local property that could meet our needs, having both deep water and easy access for trucks." York Harbor has already lost three docks, and recently another commercial pier used by local fishermen was sold, converted to a home, and then resold.

To cover the easement acquisition costs, the York Land Trust received a loan from Coastal Enterprises, Inc.'s Working Waterfront Loan Fund, and support from area residents and foundations (such as the Libra Foundation, Island Foundation and Maine Community Foundation). This project, part of an ambitious plan to protect the region's natural and cultural assets--the Mount Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative, may inspire greater use of conservation techniques to protect Maine's working waterfronts. "Already people are clamoring for this easement language--wanting to apply it to waterfront preservation efforts elsewhere," observes Joseph C. Donnelly, a member of the York Harbor Board.

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