Maine Coast Heritage Trust has about $200,000 left to raise by year’s end to conserve the Cousins River marsh and field in Yarmouth. Rachel Vitello / The Forecaster

Maine Coast Heritage Trust is about $200,000 away from the $2.19 million it needs to conserve 82 acres of land and marsh along Cousins River in Yarmouth, a project that organizers say is vital in the face of climate change.

About $400,000 is actually needed to meet the fundraising goal, but a $200,000 match has been pledged, leaving the trust confident it can meet a Dec. 31 deadline, according to Project Manager Keith Fletcher.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust has teamed up with Royal River Conservation Trust and Freeport Conservation Trust on the Cousins River Fields and Marsh Project.

“We’ve had some very generous gifts,” Fletcher said. “Royal River Conservation Trust and Freeport Conservation Trust have been generous with their time and donors and putting in many hours on our local fundraising committee.”

The town of Yarmouth may contribute $20,000. The proposal received positive feedback at an Oct. 14 council meeting, according to Town Councilor David Craig, who said the matter would likely be voted upon at the Nov. 18 meeting.

Once the trust reaches its fundraising goal, the property will be purchased from Conservation Limited Development. The limited liability corporation is associated with MCHT and serves to keep parcels of land off the market for conservation purposes to ensure they do not get developed. The Dec. 31 deadline is included in the purchase agreement, but could be moved if both parties agree, Fletcher said.

About $1.3 million of the total funds raised will be used to buy the land. The rest will be used for stewardship, new signage, trail development and a parking lot to help make the area more accessible.

Royal River Conservation Trust Executive Director Alan Stearns said the project holds great importance when it comes to the potential impact of climate change on the area in coming years.

“The clear opportunity here is to save the marsh for whatever the future might be with predicted sea level rise,” Stearns said. “This particular marsh is very likely to survive, even if Casco Bay rises a few feet the marsh will either survive or migrate because it’s relatively untouched and has some room to grow. Looking at the coastline of Casco Bay, it is so important that we keep some intact saltwater marsh for the unknowns of the future.”

The original Oct. 31 deadline to raise the funding was pushed back to align with the timing of a grant application for the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Program. Fletcher said that, with the exception of the Casco Bay Estuary Project grant of $5,000, which is federal funding, all the money has been privately raised.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust is hosting a harvest community event and bonfire to raise awareness for the project from 2-5 p.m. Nov. 14, at the corner of East Main Street and Granite Street in Yarmouth in partnership with Liquid Riot brewery. The rain date is Nov. 21. More information about the event, the project and how to donate is available on at mcht.org and on Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Facebook page.

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