The most easterly of our Project Areas is Mason Bay which straddles the Jonesboro/Jonesport town line just east of Addison and at the head of Englishman Bay. Mason Bay is 1½ miles long and ½ mile wide. Nearly the entire bay drains at low tide, exposing roughly 500 acres of mudflats. The four streams that feed into the upper part of the bay, Southwest Creek, Mansfield Creek and both branches of White Creek, all have extensive salt marsh systems.
Mason Bay and its surrounding uplands provide exceptional habitat for migratory and wintering waterfowl, migratory shorebirds, bald eagles, woodcock and sea-run brook trout. Mason Bay is a popular spot for birdwatchers who have documented at least 16 species of shorebirds and 17 species of waterfowl using the area. Occasionally, birders have been treated to the rare sight of a peregrine falcon stooping on teal or plovers.
The habitat for over-wintering black ducks is particularly impressive. Because Mason Bay’s mudflats are open to the east they benefit from both wind-driven and tidal flushing and they rarely freeze over. Black ducks can feed here even in bitter cold winter weather. The gravel bars, high bluffs and tall trees break the wind and waves in the upper bay offering welcome shelter in coastal storms. In addition, several of the bay’s spring-fed brooks never freeze, providing reliable year-round sources of fresh water.
Shorebirds staging for their long trans-oceanic migrations are especially dependent on places like Mason Bay, where feeding areas are in close proximity to undisturbed roosting sites. Particularly notable are the high concentrations of whimbrel, a shorebird Species of Special Concern in Maine.
Currently the shores of Mason Bay are largely undisturbed. However, there are a number of threats to the area’s fragile environment. When the next wave of residential development breaks on the Downeast Coast, scenic waterfront properties in places like Mason Bay will again be in great demand. Because the lands surrounding the bay are predominantly glacial deposits, gravel mining and expanded commercial blueberry farming also pose threats.
Over the last four years PRWF has acquired twelve properties in Mason Bay (contiguous areas are consolidated on the map) and has combined them into the Mason Bay Conservation Area. PRWF now protects 784 acres on the bay, comprising 559 acres of uplands and 225 acres of wetlands. The properties have over 5 ¼ miles of frontage on the north shore of Mason Bay, on Southwest Creek and along both sides of White Creek at the head of the bay.
PRWF has been very fortunate to be able to consolidate such a large block of undeveloped land and protect it from fragmentation and development. Part of the importance to wildlife comes from the fact that more different species, and more of any given species, will be protected in an integrated project than in the same amount of acreage broken into smaller lots. Another factor is that the long, continuous stretches of shore front, which are protected from development, provide a haven for shorebirds and waterfowl that have difficulty living in close proximity to people. In the fall shorebirds can feed and put on weight for their long southerly migrations and during the winter waterfowl can feed and rest without being disturbed.
PRWF’s Mason Bay Conservation Area represents a significant new public resource near both Roque Island and Roque Bluffs State Park. The parking areas shown on the map will be established by spring 2012 and visitors will be able to access birdwatching sites on both sides of the bay by the existing roads. In the next couple of years PRWF’s stewardship staff will be working to develop paths so that visitors can have greater access to the properties while at the same time paying heed to the fact that the primary goal is to protect the habitat for wildlife by minimizing any adverse impact on disturbance sensitive species.
PRWF has required a lot of help to put together the Mason Bay Conservation Area and funding to purchase these properties has come from many different sources. Bargain sale gifts from conservation–minded landowners played a vital role while major cash funding came from the Land for Maine’s Future Program as well as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grants under the National Coastal Wetlands Program and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. PRWF also received non-governmental grants from the William P. Wharton Trust, the Bonnell Cove Foundation and the Open Space Conservancy’s Saving New England Wildlife Fund established with a lead grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Additional financial and technical support has been provided by our Heads of the Estuaries Partnership members – Downeast Coastal Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy and USFWS – Gulf of Maine Coastal Program.
PO Box 154 • Addison • Maine • 04606 • email@example.com