Heads of the Estuaries Partnership

In early 2008, Pleasant River Wildlife Foundation helped bring together a consortium of governmental agencies, regional conservation organizations and local land trusts in a landscape scale collaboration to protect the heart of the Downeast Coast of Maine. The Heads of the Estuaries Partnership Region extends northeastwards from the Schoodic Peninsula to Machias Bay along a largely undisturbed coastline characterized by deep coastal embayments with gently sloping uplands. Together, the Partnership members are undertaking a series of projects over five years to preserve more than:
  • 25 miles of coastal wetland frontage
  • 5,000 acres of coastal uplands
  • 2,500 acres of intertidal and freshwater wetlands 
Active HEP partners include:
  • Local land trusts (Pleasant River Wildlife Foundation, Downeast Coastal Conservancy, Downeast Rivers Land Trust, Frenchman Bay Conservancy)
  • Statewide land trusts (Maine Coast Heritage Trust, The Nature Conservancy – Maine Chapter)
  • National conservation groups (Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl)
  • State agencies (Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, The Land for Maine’s Future Program)
  • Federal agencies (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program, the Regional U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office, Hadley, MA)

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The HEP partners are focusing their efforts in six Priority Areas selected for their pristine and extensive salt marshes and intertidal mudflats.  The uplands in these Priority Areas are covered by mixed growth forest and typically drain into the estuaries through networks of small streams, beaver flowages and other fresh water wetlands. These Priority Areas are:
  • Gouldsboro Bay/Dyer Bay
  • Back Bay/Flat Bay
  • Pleasant Bay/Crowley Island
  • Mason Bay/Chandler River
  • Little Kennebec Bay
  • Machias Bay
The varied and interconnected upland and wetland habitats of the Priority Areas support abundant shorebirds, waterfowl and wading birds as well as woodcock, grouse, songbirds and raptors -- over 250 bird species in all.  A host of mammals, amphibians, fish and other wildlife also depend on these wetlands or their adjacent uplands.  Public access on these lands remains critical for local residents who make their living from the sea and for residents and visitors who enjoy coastal recreation.

Human footsteps have been light on this landscape and today’s visitors can still experience remote coastal lands with abundant wildlife, where small rural communities have stayed in balance with their natural surroundings.  However, the next wave of housing development already threatens.  The Heads of the Estuaries Partnership is committed to meeting this challenge and preserving forever some of America’s most biologically rich, gorgeous and intact coastal habitat. 


PO Box 154 • Addison • Maine • 04606 • [email protected]