For the first time in more than 100 years, the public will be able to hike, picnic and go birding on Clapboard Island.
The Maine Coast Heritage Trust paid $1.4 million to purchase 15 acres on the northeast corner of the island Friday. The property includes an oak and pine forest, a woodland path and more than 4,000 feet of shoreline with sand and pebble beaches.
The western half of the island in Falmouth will remain private. There will be signs and maps to clearly mark the public and private areas.
Although the purchase closed Friday, the trust still needs to raise about $100,000 to help pay for it. The balance of the purchase will be financed with proceeds from the sale of a five-bedroom house on the island, currently on the market for $769,000. The house is under contract to be sold to Bill Gilliss, a member of the family that has owned the property since 1898.
Three years ago, this stretch of Clapboard Island came on the market, prompting the formation of the Friends of Clapboard Island to help raise money to acquire the island. Members approached Maine Coast Heritage Trust, which spearheaded a 15-month campaign to raise $1.4 million to purchase the island parcel, plus $200,000 to pay for ongoing stewardship. The Falmouth Land Trust also provided assistance to the project.
More than 175 individuals and organizations contributed to the effort, according to trust officials. Though they fell somewhat short of their fundraising goal, directors voted to move forward with the purchase, drawing the amount needed from the trust’s $3 million revolving loan fund.