Monhegan Associates; inspiring generations in a timeless, unspoiled sanctuary.
Monhegan Associates, Inc (“MAI”) is a private nonprofit land trust that owns and manages approximately two thirds of Monhegan Island, including the Island entire Eastern coast. Nearly 400 acres and more than nine miles of trails that make up the wildlands of Monhegan Island, Maine. MAI is dedicated to the ongoing preservation of the natural wild beauty and biotic communities of its lands, and to which it welcomes visitors.
MAI provides reasonable accessibility to its undeveloped lands in a consistently natural manner. At no cost to the public, we maintain over nine miles of natural walking trails through deep forest and along rugged coastal cliffs, while working to preserve the natural ecosystem. This is an ongoing challenge as the Island’s location is replete with substantive weather and elevation changes.
MAI spends considerable time and resources each year on conservation and maintenance projects. Our annual budget of roughly $80,000 supports our wildlands-based and community-based efforts, including:
- Protecting the natural character of the Island’s wildlands
- Maintaining and rehabilitating trails
- clearing of forest blowdowns, removing trash and general trail cleanup
- maintaining bridges and stepping stones and controlling erosion
- collecting and recording information on flora and fauna and controlling of poison ivy
- Developing consistent and detailed policies for land use and protection
- Overseeing Fire and safety initiatives related to the Wildlands
- Paying Monhegan property taxes
- Acquiring other undeveloped land that should be protected as part of our sanctuary.
As highlighted in the graphics below, approximately 70% of our annual budget funds the Monhegan-based staffing and resources necessary to keep the Island in its natural state. Our resources also support the Monhegan island community. For example, though MAI is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, we pay our share of community property taxes to Monhegan Plantation.
Our annual operating budget is supported largely through voluntary contributions, including memberships. Additional sources of revenue include foundation grants, sale of ancillary items (such as trail maps and nature guides) to the public, and educational and fundraising events, when possible.
We accomplish all of this, and more, with the help of one part-time Wildlands Coordinator who works with a Forest Stewardship Crew, plus the substantial efforts of volunteers.
Over the past several decades various species of plants of concern have spread through significant areas of the Monhegan forest that pose a potential threat to the biodiversity of the Island’s native ecosystem. Through GIS mapping done by MAI’s Wildlands Coordinator, we map the dynamics of these species and monitor the health of native flora. We selectively work cutting back areas of plants of concern, concentrating our efforts in areas where we can most effectively contain the spread of these species while we seek to learn more about them and effectively nurture native species.
Climate change means that Monhegan’s waters are warmer, certain insect populations (such as ticks) are increasing, and the hotter climate is increasing the risk of fires on the island. The impact of climate change will continue to evolve, though we remain true to our long term objectives and retain alliances with local universities and organizations in ways that are consistent with our mission.
The overall profile of Monhegan’s seasonal population has shifted away from families spending full seasons on the Island toward multiple segments of the family spending shorter stays. This change has made it more difficult to rely on volunteers as our primary workforce, as families are often unable to dedicate time to MAI. While we will always welcome and receive volunteer help, we have met our needs by transitioning several activities to part-time employees from the local community who can more consistently undertake major projects in other seasons of the year.
A Plan for the Future
Monhegan Associates seeks to preserve for posterity the wildlands of Monhegan Island while fostering collaboration with the Island communities. Consistent with this mission, MAI has operated in a reliable and trustworthy manner for almost 70 years and has many accomplishments for which we can be proud. Since Theodore Edison gathered Monhegan landowners and established the land trust in 1954, we have acquired, protected and maintained nearly 400 acres of unique wildlands for the enjoyment of Monhegan Island residents and visitors. The conserved area attracts many visitors to the Island annually who, in turn, support local businesses. MAI contributes to a vibrant life on the island through support of the ecology, safety and economy of Monhegan.
Through the continued annual support of our 350+members and many visitors, we thus far have been able to fulfill our mission-centric activities each year. However, we do not want the future of Monhegan Associates to be contingent on whatever changes might occur in the US economy or negatively impacted by unforeseen events. Through increased planned giving, as well as continued Annual support, we therefore want to secure our long term sustainability for generations to come.