The Maine Island Trail Association (MITA), which oversees a 375-mile waterway for small boaters from the New Hampshire border to Canada, just got a shot in the arm from L.L. Bean. The venerable outdoor gear and apparel maker, founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean, recently gave MITA and its Wild Islands Campaign a $100,000 grant to support its efforts to protect the trail system.
It’s far from the first funds the company has awarded to the association. In 1987, L.L.Bean issued a grant to create the association, in partnership with the Maine Department of Conservation and the Island Institute. It was from this that both MITA and the Maine Island Trail — America’s first recreational water trail, an establishment founded on the notion that visitors could be entrusted with the islands’ care — were born.
“For decades, L.L.Bean and the Maine Island Trail Association have shared the common goal of being good stewards of the environment,” says L.L.Bean chairman Shawn Gorman. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to ensure that we all have clean, pristine and accessible places to recreate in the outdoors. The Maine Island Trail Association is to be commended for their efforts to make the great outdoors even greater.”
The campaign establishes an endowment to indefinitely support MITA’s stewardship work on the trail’s 212 different islands. So far, with L.L.Bean’s gift, the Wild Islands Campaign has generated $900,000 for island stewardship.
“This is truly an honor,” says MITA executive director Doug Welch, whose organization includes 4,000 members dedicated to the protecting and enjoying the wild islands of Maine. “This grant reinforces L.L. Bean’s commitment to stewardship of the natural resources on which recreation depends. The Maine Island Trail would not exist without volunteers caring for the private- and public-owned islands that comprise the Trail. The Wild Islands Campaign will ensure that those volunteers have the tools needed to get the job done each year.”
In the past five years, L.L.Bean has donated over $6 million toward conservation and land stewardship. Invested with the Maine Community Foundation, MITA’s Wild Islands Campaign fund pays for the purchase, operation and upkeep of MITA vehicles, skiffs, motors, and trailers, plus a portion of the staff expense of coordinating volunteers. Anticipated to grow to $2 million, the fund will ensure that Maine’s beautiful coastline will be managed by a volunteer corps of citizen stewards for decades to come.
–Read more about paddling the MAINE ISLAND TRAIL.