BAR HARBOR — Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) announced June 15 that it has started construction on a new parking lot, has begun renovations on the historic barn and has hired local community leader as part of a multiyear effort to purchase, protect and restore Stone Barn Farm and open it to the public.
The $2.5 million campaign began in 2019 when MCHT purchased the property and sought community support to transform the Stone Barn Farm property into a public preserve. The 128-acre Bar Harbor property features nearly 2 miles of trails, expansive fields and woodlands, and has been well-used by locals for decades.
An expanded parking lot, largely unseen from the road, will accommodate up to 35 cars. Construction of the new parking area is expected to be completed by early July. The next phase of the project is the renovation of the 19th century barn. Work is currently underway and expected to be completed in 2023. These renovations will maintain the barn’s status on the National Register of Historic Places while making it safer for visitors.
Over 200 individual donors from the Mount Desert Island community rallied behind the effort to turn the property into a public preserve. Prior to MCHT purchasing the property, Stone Barn Farm was owned by Harry and Cindy Owen.
“The Owen’s had always treated this place as if it were a preserve. They kept the trails open for everyone,” said MCHT Regional Stewardship Manager Douglas McMullin. “They wanted to ensure that Stone Barn Farm was kept open forever.”
MCHT has also hired Renee Duncan to be community outreach coordinator at Stone Barn Farm Preserve. Duncan, who spent the past 11 years working for College of the Atlantic as the director of summer field studies, will be responsible for looking after the preserve as well as coordinating community outreach on the property and the MDI region. This is a newly created role at MCHT.
“I’m trying to kindle and nourish that little spark we feel when exploring a place like the Stone Barn Farm,” said Duncan. “I hope to illuminate the values and work of those who have cared for this land across generations.”
Thanks to its location, varied natural features, extensive trail system and historic infrastructure, the preserve is a potential resource for educational programming, walking, birding and community events. Since MCHT purchased the property, it has continued to be used by the community, including school groups, birders, the MDI Historical Society, scouts and artists. MCHT is currently drafting a management plan for the preserve and is expecting to get programming started this summer.
With Duncan leading community outreach and the construction of a larger parking lot, MCHT plans to collaborate with schools, organizations and others in the area to help address local needs and continue to connect people with this special place.
MCHT’s initiatives range from preserving coastal access for communities to high impact ecological work focused on reconnecting waterways and improving coastal resiliency to climate change. Since 1970, MCHT maintains a network of almost 150 coastal and island preserves free and open to everyone and leads the 80-member Maine Land Trust Network.
For more information, go online to www.mcht.org.