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Updated: February 22, 2023

On Mount Desert Island, workforce housing will be paired with conservation land

pink sunset and skaters on ice Courtesy / Nate Hanson Skaters are seen along conserved shoreline at Northeast Creek.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust has sold an acre of marshland to Acadia National Park and donated 3 adjoining acres to the Island Housing Trust to create year-round workforce housing. 

The land is fronted by Route 3 leading into Bar Harbor. The acre transferred to Acadia includes 234 feet of shore frontage on Northeast Creek.

The parties involved did not specify how many units of housing might be built on the land. 

The initiative is driven by real estate values that have climbed sharply on Mount Desert Island, and access to year-round housing that is affordable has become increasingly challenging for many people who work on the island and earn an average income. 

“All along the coast, communities are in desperate need of housing,” said Marla O’Byrne, Island Housing Trust’s executive director. 

Over the past few years, both trusts have facilitated year-round housing through partnership projects — most recently through the joint acquisition of 60 acres at the head of Mount Desert Island, where MCHT conserved 30 acres of Jones Marsh wetlands. Island Housing is also building a new workforce neighborhood there that will provide 10 energy-efficient, year-round homes. 

Island Housing Trust is a nonprofit working to advance permanent workforce housing on Mount Desert Island. Since 2003, Island Housing Trust has completed 54 homeownership projects serving over 150 adults and children on Mount Desert Island. Its homes are protected by covenants, keeping the homes affordable to MDI’s workforce in perpetuity. The trust holds covenants on 43 homes and has overseen the re-sale of several of these properties at below-market prices to qualified households working on MDI.  

The National Park Service is authorized to acquire land by donation, exchange, or purchase for addition to Acadia within the boundary established by law in 1986. 

The area provides ecologically important salt marsh habitat, which is a top priority for MCHT and its Marshes for Tomorrow Initiative. The initiative protects undeveloped areas surrounding marshes so as the sea level rises, marsh systems can migrate inland.

“The addition of this land to the park will enhance the visitor experience and help protect the Northeast Creek estuary, which is one of the most biologically productive and diverse ecosystems on Mount Desert Island,” said Kevin Schneider, superintendent of Acadia National Park. 

“Northeast Creek and surrounding Fresh Meadow are treasured ecological resources in our community and although this parcel is small, it’s an important piece of the puzzle,” the trust’s senior project manager, Misha Mytar, said in a news release. “Most all of our marsh-related projects involve numerous stakeholders and yield both ecological and economic benefits for our communities; this project is no different.” 

map with lines and color blocks
Courtesy / Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Island Housing Trust received 3 acres of land outside of Bar Harbor to build workforce housing.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust began on Mount Desert Island in 1970 and encompasses more than two dozen preserves in the area. It also maintains a growing network of almost 150 coastal and island preserves coastwide and leads the 80-member Maine Land Trust Network.

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