The Maine Island Trail Association is a membership organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the wild islands of coastal Maine. Founded in 1988 to administer America’s first water trail, MITA embraces the powerfully simple idea that care of the islands can be left to the users of these treasured and fragile places. Our ability to turn island users into island stewards is why islands visited by members tend to be in better shape than those left alone.
Our members include paddlers, sailors, motorboaters, and land-lubbers alike. They form a powerful force of people actively committed to the care and protection of the wild islands of Maine. We hope you’ll join us and the many like-minded people who keep the Trail, and the islands, alive and well. MITA members receive comprehensive information about the Trail, helpful tips for safe and responsible boating, and guidelines for low-impact recreation. Our members also support ongoing stewardship and education efforts aimed at preserving Trail sites and experiences for future generations.
The mission of the Maine Island Trail Association is to advance a model of thoughtful use and volunteer stewardship of Maine’s wild islands, creating an inspiring recreational water trail that is cared for by the people who use it.
Ideas that drive and distinguish MITA
The MITA model is simple and effective: Stewardship is the key to island owners allowing Access, which is key to attracting Members. Members, in turn, volunteer and financially support the Stewardship which completes a virtuous circle: “SAM”.
Serve the members
As a membership organization, the board, staff, and programs of MITA ultimately exist to serve the Association.
Complement, don’t compete
MITA pursues its own distinct mission leaving land trusts, guides, outfitters, schooners, and others to pursue theirs. We do not own land; we do not guide. This complimentary, non-competitive approach has yielded excellent partnerships for over 30 years.
Adhere to the Trail Vision
MITA is building a water trail for all boaters in all regions, adding and maintaining trail sites with a wild character where owner preferences can be honored and stewardship requirements are within MITA’s capabilities.
Earn trust through action
Handshake relationships, not legal relationships, are key to the Trail’s success. This uniquely Maine-style arrangement allows landowners to try the Trail experience without feeling obligated for the long term or binding their heirs or successors. By earning landowner trust each year, the Trail remains intact and continues to grow.
Issue guidelines and trust users to follow them
MITA conveys island owner wishes regarding the use of their property, but has no authority to enforce those wishes and thus no grounds to declare them as rules. Happily, most people do adhere to the guidelines, so early fears that the islands would be “loved to death” have not occurred.
Support access as an independent pursuit
Outside of organized stewardship work, Trail users may utilize MITA trip planning products but are ultimately on their own to visit the islands safely and responsibly, whether visiting on their own or with a guide.
MITA is fundamentally an optimistic organization that believes in the transformative power of recreating in nature and entrusts people to behave responsibly. We aspire to have this positive attitude permeate everything we do.
MITA’s governance documents now have their own page. Please visit mita.org/governance to view.