Campaign To Keep Islands Wild And Pristine

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South Little Hen Island
A campsite on South Little Hen Island; photo by Dan Smith, Scenic New England

Islands cared for by those who love them will maintain their fragile environments better than those left entirely alone.

That simple idea lead to the formation of the Maine Islands Trail Association (MITA) in 1987. Since then, the group has cleaned and maintained more than 200 islands and coastal sites along 375 miles of the Maine coast.

Maine Trail Association Cleanup
A volunteer hauls old traps out of the ocean; photo courtesy MITA

The Maine Islands Trail is a path through the rich costal waters that bridges public and private land for the enjoyment of boaters who hop along the coast, camping and enjoying nature along the way.

MITA manages these visitors, encouraging leave-no-trace visitation and providing minimal infrastructure for sustainable recreation. Thanks to a recent $100,000 donation by L.L. Bean, as well as other sponsors such as Rising Tide Brewing Company, the group is well on the way to being perpetually endowed.

Main Island Trail Boats
Boats and volunteers haul trash out of the waterway; photo courtesy MITA

L.L Bean’s donation to the group’s Wild Islands Campaign brought the endowment to $900,000 raised over the last two years. Proceeds from the endowment support a fleet of five boats working to maintain the marine trail system. A sixth boat will be added soon to facilitate work by more than 200 volunteers who put in nearly 5,000 hours of work each year.

Boat hauling trash
Volunteers haul old lobster traps out of the waterway; photo courtesy MITA

“It will pay for the operation and maintenance of those boats, trucks and trailers,” said Doug Welch, executive director of the Association. “You need the right kind of donor, which is why we were really excited about L.L. Bean. Some companies are interested in naming buildings, but for us, the end is keeping the islands clean.”

Old rope is recovered during a coastal cleanup.
Old rope is recovered during a coastal cleanup; photo courtesy MITA

The group hopes to build the endowment to $2 million, enough to fully support the group’s mission perpetually.

Current members enjoy access to Trail properties for day use or overnight visits in return for observing low-impact techniques and guidelines outlined in MITA’s annual 250-page trail guide.  For more information contact MITA at 207-761-8225, or visit

Kristen Roos, Dick Gilbane, and Doug Welch enjoying breakfast on Ram Island in the Sheepscot River.
Kristen Roos, Dick Gilbane, and Doug Welch enjoy breakfast on Ram Island in the Sheepscot River; photo by Dan Smith, Scenic New England
Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.