About Our Work

A woman in a wetsuit crouches by a creek and studies something she's holding over a collection bucket.
Swimming with the Fishes Molly Payne Wynne studies young Atlantic salmon in a Maine river. © Jerry and Marcy Monkman/EcoPhotography

Since 1956, The Nature Conservancy in Maine has been conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends—and now we’re doing so much more.

TNC in Maine is The Nature Conservancy’s fourth oldest chapter, founded in 1956 by Rachel Carson and other leading Maine citizens concerned about the loss of wildlife habitat. Since that beginning, TNC in Maine has helped protect almost 2.5 million acres in the state and currently owns and manages more than 300,000 acres, constituting the largest system of nature preserves in the state.

Today, with a mission to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends, TNC in Maine is taking action to protect land, restore waterways, work toward a healthy and sustainable ocean, address and mitigate the effects of climate change and connect people and nature—in Maine and around the world.

Our Conservation Priorities

Click the boxes below to explore the initiatives we’re undertaking to make a difference for people and nature.

Landmark Moments in Maine

Rachel Carson studies something in a jar.
Seaside Study Biologist and author Rachel Carson examines a specimen in a jar. © Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images


A chapter is formed in Maine

Maine becomes The Nature Conservancy’s fourth chapter, with Rachel Carson as Honorary Chairman.

A view looking down the rocky slope of a waterfall with mountains beyond.
Tumbling Waters The beautiful view from near the top of Step Falls. © Richard Joyce


The first TNC preserve in Maine

Step Falls in Newry is purchased as TNC in Maine’s first preserve.

A view looking along a rocky shore out toward the ocean.
Great Wass Shoreline Dramatic clouds hover over the ocean in a view from Great Wass Island Preserve © Ian Patterson


Conserving a Maine island

1,579 acres of Great Wass Island purchased, the first of 16 islands in the archipelago that will eventually receive protection from TNC.

Looking up toward the top of a large beech tree.
Giant in the Woods Big Reed Preserve is home to New England’s largest contiguous undisturbed forest. © Mark Berry/TNC


Protecting old growth

Through land swaps and a million-dollar-plus fundraising campaign, TNC purchases New England’s largest contiguous undisturbed forest—the 5,000-acre Big Reed Forest Reserve.

Two young people stand in a field of purple flowers.
Kennebunk Plains Northern blazing star in bloom at Kennebunk Plains. © Tim Paul/The Nature Conservancy


LMF passes for the first time

Maine passes landmark $35 million Land for Maine’s Future Bond. TNC negotiates the Land for Maine’s Future Board’s first purchase the following year, 1,041 acres at Kennebunk Plains.

Sunrise creates a bright orange sky over the St. John River.
St. John sunrise Incredible sunrise colors over the St. John River. © Hadley Couraud


Critical conservation at a scale never attempted before.

TNC in Maine purchases 185,000 acres of remote forest along 40 miles of the upper St. John River for $35 million, the largest single financial commitment TNC has made anywhere in the world.

A view from behind a woman paddling a canoe across a lake tinted purple in the sunset.
Lovely Evening Paddling toward the sunset in the Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area. © Ian Patterson


A unique conservation effort

An unorthodox conservation approach results in a 195,000-acre working forest easement and acquisition of the 46,000-acre Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area, as TNC works with Great Northern Paper in a deal to save trees and jobs.

A fisherman tosses a fish into a bin aboard his boat.
Gulf Fisherman Bryan Bichrest throws a pollack into a fish bin on board his boat. © David Hills.


Working in the Gulf

To build resiliency back into the Gulf of Maine, TNC in Maine launches an innovative permit banking initiative—a strategy that leverages acquired fishing permits to promote sustainable fishing practices.

An aerial view of the bypass channel at a dam.
Bypass A nature-like stream allows fish passage at the Howland Dam. © Brandon Kulik


Restoring the Penobscot River

Along with many partners in the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, TNC celebrates the purchase of three dams on the river. Two will be removed and a third bypassed with improvements on several other dams beginning in 2012.

A man walks across a log in a swampy area.
Wet Walk Exploring Number 5 Bog. © David McLain


A landmark easement is completed

TNC in Maine closes on a landmark 363,000-acre Moosehead Conservation Easement. It stands as the largest contiguous conservation easement in the nation.

A view of the entryway of the Maine TNC offices.
Feeling WELL Maine's Field Office was updated to meet LEED and WELL certification standards. © Sandy Agrafiotis


Bringing efficiency to work

After more than 30 years of occupancy in the historic mill in Brunswick, TNC installs solar panels and remodels the space to meet LEED certification and WELL standards—the first office space in New England to do so.

A view from above of a vast forest in autumn colors.
St. John Forest Trees View of autumn trees in the St. John forest. © Joshua Royte/TNC


Increasing carbon storage

TNC enrolls 124,000 acres in the St. John River Forest in a forest carbon project—increasing carbon stocking, accelerating forest restoration and expanding ecological reserve land.

A woman uses a tape measure to measure a culvert pipe while another takes notes.
Data Capture Measuring one of thousands of road-stream crossings in Maine. © Tim Paul


A groundbreaking survey is completed

TNC and partners complete a 13-year stream barrier survey, documenting information about 26,328 culverts and dams in Maine. The result is one of the largest databases of its kind in the world.

A view from above of forested green mountains.
Peaks An aerial view of 3,648-foot Caribou Mountain in Boundary Mountains Preserve. © Jerry and Marcy Monkman/EcoPhotography


Addressing climate change through conservation

TNC purchases an important link in a large swath of contiguous forest and creates the 9,608-acre Boundary Mountains Preserve along the border with Canada—part of a strategy to address climate change through conservation.

An underwater view of alewives swimming in a school.
Alewives Every spring, millions of these fish return to Maine's rivers. © Bridget Edmonds/TNC


Swimming in good results

Thanks to the years-long effort to remove barriers to fish passage all around the state, more than 10 million fish were counted migrating this year.

A group of men and women pose around a trail they've been maintaining.
Job Well Done TNC Maine staff get time out of the office to repair a trail at The Basin Preserve. © Bea Hesselbart

Staff and Trustees

Our team of scientists, conservationists, communicators and fundraisers is well positioned to take on the challenges we face. We’re focusing the power of people to make positive changes for nature—in Maine and beyond.

Meet the Team

Read TNC in Maine’s Equity Statement

Read Our Commitment to Indigenous People

Support Our Work

Join us to ensure that Maine’s natural legacy endures for future generations.