The Butler Conservation Fund has announced the opening this week of its second large-scale project to provide outdoor recreation in wild and scenic locations in Maine, known as Cobscook Shores. The hope is that it might eventually draw some tourists away from heavily trafficked Acadia National Park.
Encompassing 500 acres across a series of coastal parklands, Cobscook Shores is modest in size. But Carl Carlson, director of parklands for the Butler Conservation Fund, says the shorefront properties are stunning and there are opportunities for hiking, biking, boating and skiing.
"This was intended to be a dispersed set of parks so there are a few that are close to each other but in most cases you have to go in between them either by biking or driving and we encourage outdoor aerobic recreation so we want people to come up and bike. We're hoping that this will be a popular biking destination," Carlson says.
The parklands are free to use and include 14 miles of scenic shorefront, 8 miles of biking and walking trails, several hand-carry boat launches, camping areas, vault toilets, screened pavilions and picnic spots.
Carlson says philanthropist and founder Gilbert Butler fell in love with Lubec and Cobscook Bay when a friend introduced him to the region 25 years ago.
And he said this is the most beautiful shorefront on the East Coast, so something needs to be done to protect it.
"And we were lucky that it's pretty remote and therefore relatively inexpensive compared to other parts of Maine and in the process we were able to invite the public out to use it," Carlson says.
Because Cobscook Shores is only a couple of hours from Acadia National Park, Carlson says the project may serve as an alternative or bonus destination for those who want to enjoy the great outdoors in Down East Maine.
"So go to Acadia, get that experience but then when you want to have time to yourself, away from the crowds, you come to Cobscook Shores," Carlson says.
The Butler Conservation Fund has also protected wilderness areas in Chile, Argentina, the Adirondacks in New York, coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia and the North Woods of Maine.
More information about the Cobscook Shores parklands can be found at cobscookshores.org.
This story is a production of New England News Collaborative. It was originally published by Maine Public on May 7, 2021.