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MITA Community Member Highlight: Island Adopters

Island Adopters are volunteers who agree to check on an Trail sites on their own schedules and in their own boats. They provide valuable information to MITA about the state of the Trail.  We recently asked these folks to tell us more about why they volunteer. We hope you enjoy a selection of the responses.

If you are interested in learning more about MITA’s Island Adopter program, click here!

These responses were lightly edited for grammar and clarity. 

Mark Hanks, Hungry Island, Muscongus Bay

I care for two sites on Hungry Island,  one on the North East and one on the SW, as well as the trails in between sites. I adopt as an opportunity to give back to the Coast of Maine.  It has given us endless hours of basking in her beauty. If I can contribute in a small way to preserve that beauty then yay!  It’s also an opportunity to become intimately familiar with an island, the wildlife, plants, trees, terrain, trails and sometimes it’s visitors.  Additionally, I get to meet people of like minds either visiting the island or cool MITA folks like Chris Wall.

 Thanks to MITA one does not need to be a yacht or coastal land owner to enjoy the wonder of the Maine coast.  35 years ago my wife and I bought an old 29 sailboat, fixed it up and sailed the coast, falling in love with the desolation, beauty, protected harbors, wildlife and people that call the coast home. At that time access to the islands and coast was more difficult for those without a sea going vessel.  Now, those with the fortitude and desire for a seagoing adventure, it is available for all. MITA has made it possible for ocean lovers to access the islands and coastal waterways of ME.  That’s a pretty cool success story!

View of field on Hungry Island.

Dan Barrett, East Barred Island, Penobscot Bay

Having adopted East Barred Island helps give a focus to my time on the water. I had spent a great deal of time on salt water from a very young age as my dad progressed though a series of wooden powerboats — a 16′ open skiff, a 24′ cuddy cabin skiff, and finally a 36′ sedan cruiser. In high school, I took up single-handed dinghy sailing, and as a young married couple my wife and I spent a great deal of time sailing a Cape Dory Typhoon.

Now, with more free time, 6 young grandchildren, and a new way (Pulsifer Hampton 22) to get them on the water, my Maine Island Trail interest has been rekindled. But riding around aimlessly without a higher purpose — so to speak — would feel too self-indulgent. Taking up a role to help the Trail gives my self-indulgence positive focus and value.

I first joined MITA in the late 1990s as a developing kayaker. A friend and I had set out to paddle the Maine coast in sections, and the Trail concept seemed like something that would be useful in that pursuit. Also, I had long been an avid backpacker, and island camping seemed like an interesting variation on that theme. But this time also coincided with a growing family and the attendant time demands, leading to abandonment of those hopes at that time. But we did manage to reach Reid State Park from Kittery Point!

As with backpacking, it’s always fun to interact with other users of the outdoors. And in addition to it giving me a focus for my boating, it also gives me a chance for outdoor work. I have enjoyed the labor and camaraderie of contributing to wilderness projects since college, where the outing club I was a part of maintained a Maine section of the Appalachian Trail.

East Barred Island, courtesy of Karen.

Esther Parson, Campbell Island, Penobscot Bay

A few years ago MITA put on a breakfast in Brooklin at the Morning Moon Cafe. The Cafe had closed but opened to do a small fundraiser for MITA. We were excited to simply go have breakfast again at the Morning Moon. Two fellows were there, pitching MITA, and I signed up. 

I’ve enjoyed a lifetime of summers in Maine, and rowing or sailing to the many islands is always a favorite adventure. We adopted Campbells Island. The Maine Coast Heritage Trust trained us years ago to always bring a garbage bag to fill when visiting islands. MITA reinforces that habit, which seems like the least we can do – to give back to the treasure which is the coast of Maine.