Storm left trail of damage on Falmouth's Clapboard Island

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FALMOUTH — A work crew spent the day Monday clearing downed trees and repairing damage done to the trail system at the 15-acre Clapboard Island East Preserve.

Managed by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the preserve off the coast of Falmouth was damaged during the Oct. 30 rain and wind storm that knocked down trees and power lines throughout Maine.

Caitlin Gerber, a regional steward for the trust, said “roughly 30 trees fell on the trails … (with) root balls pulling the trail up in places.”

She said a large tree also fell on the small writer’s cabin on the island, “but thankfully didn’t do any damage.”

The island is about a mile off Falmouth Town Landing, accessible by sail, paddle and motorboat.

“The preserve is great for picnicking and a casual hike,” Gerber said. “The gentle paths connect the preserve’s four beaches and lead to scenic vistas of surrounding islands.”

Along with hiking, Gerber said other activities visitors to Clapboard Island can enjoy include taking a swim in Casco Bay or “enjoying the rich bird life.”

While the preserve may not get that many visitors over the winter, Gerber said the downed trees had to be removed and the trails repaired because “it’s important to us that the public has a positive experience while visiting (our) island preserves.

“In order to deliver that, we need to maintain our trails and campsites to the highest standard,” she said. “At Maine Coast Heritage Trust we pride ourselves on thoughtfully managing our properties so that they maintain their wild charm and their accessibility.”

There are two private homes on Clapboard Island, but the northeastern half of the island is home to the preserve, which “features mature hardwoods, towering pines, abundant bird life, a quartet of gravel beaches and pleasant views of Casco Bay,” according to the trust website.

The preserve is open from dawn to dusk and no camping is allowed. The island is unique, according to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, because the forests there “exhibit very few signs of human activity.”

As a result, the trust website says, “This habitat has attracted osprey and a nesting pair of bald eagles.”

Among the rules for island visitors are taking care not to disturb any nesting ospreys and eagles, keeping dogs leashed, removing all trash and dog waste, and not starting any fires.

Founded in 1970, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, headquartered in Brunswick, has conserved 150,000 acres, protected 322 coastal islands, built 81 miles of trails and created 129 preserves that are all open to the public.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Amanda Devine, left, and Tom Carr work Monday to clear hiking trails at Clapboard Island, off the coast of Falmouth. The Clapboard Island East Preserve is maintained and managed by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Clapboard Island off the coast of Falmouth is home to four gravel beaches and a series of public walking trails.