A coastal land conservation group has reached its goal of raising $925,000 to purchase and preserve public access to the Goslings Islands in Harpswell.

The Maine Coast Heritage Trust announced that it will assume ownership in the coming months after raising the money needed to close the sale. It is buying the islands from the family of William E. and Jean R. “Polly” Soule.

The public is welcome to visit the islands now. The trust will preserve and expand access, including guided overnight trips to the islands starting next summer, in partnership with LL Bean, a major donor to the purchase effort. The trust will take over maintenance and management and also plans to keep the islands on the Maine Island Trail.

“The incredible outpouring of generosity for these islands demonstrates how important it is to protect public access to the places people love,” Trust President Tim Glidden said in a written statement.

Soule family member Mary LeMaistre said in the release that preservation of the islands is a way to honor and remember her parents. “I am able to transfer these beloved family islands into the safekeeping of (the trust) in perpetuity, not because of anything I have done, but rather what my parents were able to do 67 years ago,” she said.

The effort to permanently conserve the Goslings got a boost late last year when neighboring landowner Larney Otis donated a conservation easement that allows daytime public access to her property on the southern portion of nearby Lower Goose Island. Together, the conserved land on Lower Goose and the Goslings total more than 50 acres and includes fine shell beaches, open vistas and rocky shoreline in the heart of Casco Bay.

“This is great news for all who live and play on Casco Bay. There’s fewer and fewer places for folks to go to these days, and we’ve got to keep what we can,” Judy Marsh of Paul’s Marina in Brunswick said in the news release. Paul’s Marina held a lobster bake and donated all of the proceeds—more than $20,000—to support conservation of the Goslings.

In addition to gifts from more than 250 individuals and several local non-profits, major support for the project came from the Land for Maine’s Future Program, LL Bean, the R. K. Mellon Family Foundation, Fisher Charitable Foundation, Libra Foundation, and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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