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Next FOSI Meeting

FOSI Next Meeting 

The next FOSI meeting will be Sunday, April 13, 1:30 PM, at GreenWays Center, 17 A Main St. in Belfast.  Meetings will continue to be held on the second Sunday of the month.

Information - 548-0142

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Directions to the Island

From Rte.1 North & East of Downtown Searsport

Turn onto Sears Island Road and continue on it across the causeway to the gate. Park on the causeway but please note the parking restrictions close to the gate.

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Welcome to Friends of Sears Island

Aerial View of Sears IslandAerial View of Sears IslandThe mission of the Friends of Sears Island (FOSI) is to support permanent protection of Sears Island's environmental and cultural resources; preserve its marine, shoreland, and forest ecosystems; and encourage educational and low impact recreational uses of the island.

In 2009, when then Governor John Baldacci signed into law the Conservation Easement on 601 acres, FOSI agreed to assume the role of volunteer stewards, in partnership with Maine Coast Heritage Trust, holder of the easement.

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About Sears Island PDF Print E-mail

Sears Island Homestead TrailSears Island Homestead TrailAt the head of Penobscot Bay one island, accessible to the public, reveals the richness of natural resources shared by the off-shore islands that have given our bay its world acclaimed reputation for unusual beauty.

There are sandy and cobbled beaches, dunes, rugged cliffs and ledges, diverse forests and wetlands, streams and gullies, abundant plants and animals, and beyond all that, a rich cultural heritage dating back thousands of years.

. . . . . This is Sears Island . . . . .


Sears Island provided camping, hunting and fishing grounds for the First People of what is now Maine. Some artifacts suggest that fishermen from distant shores may have discovered the bounty of this coast in the 15th and 16th centuries, preceding the known European explorers who arrived in the 17th century and who were soon vying for land grants and recruiting settlers to the rich land. Fishing, farming and periodic timbering sustained the landowners, then shipbuilding and shipping increased their wealth through the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Although Sears Island was not known to be directly involved in the Revolutionary War, one of the ships from the failed Penobscot Expedition, the brig Defence, was followed by the British and scuttled in the harbor between the island and Cape Jellison.

At the turn of the 20th century residents and investors began to realize the recreational potential of Sears Island. The owners of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad began purchasing land on shore for a rail terminal, then created the Bangor Investment Company, which purchased Sears Island in 1905. The plan for a resort on the island never came to fruition but the on-shore Penobscot Park was a popular destination point until World War I. During prohibition years Sears Island was used to drop off and hide liquor being smuggled into the country and during World War II arms were shipped out from its docks to the European Allies.

In the '20s and '30s farming waned as people found more fertile fields inland, but some timbering continued. The farm buildings fell into disrepair and were razed in the '30s.

Cellar WallCellar Wall Homestead Cellar StepsHomestead Cellar Steps

Proposed Industrial developments threatened Sears Island every decade of the last half of the 20th century – nuclear power plant, aluminum smelter, coal fired generator, and cargo/container ports. In the 1980s, in preparation for a proposed port, the causeway was built, replacing the sandy bar that had provided access at low tide. Archeological digs prior to the construction indicated that there were too few undisturbed artifacts remaining to merit conservation measures. Later, in the '90s, the State of Maine purchased Sears Island from the Bangor Investment Company, with potential future development in mind. However, all of the previous proposals were defeated by environmental concerns.

Then in 2003 a Liquid Natural Gas terminal was being considered; this resulted in a strong coalition of organizations and individuals who opposed it (in the Town of Searsport alone the opposition prevailed 10 to1).

Finally, after three years of negotiations during then Governor Baldacci's Planning and Joint Use Initiatives, the Conservation Easement was signed into law, preserving almost 2/3 of the island in perpetuity.

The most common recreational uses – picnicking, swimming, hiking, fishing, clamming and hunting endure. With responsible use and stewardship these activities and the wealth of natural resources will continue to be available for future generations.


The First People called it Wassumkeag, for the bright sands that could be seen from a distance as they paddled on the bay, and that connected the island to the mainland at low tide. In the 18th century Wassumkeag was renamed Brigadier's Island in honor of Brigadier General Samuel Waldo, a major landowner in the area. After four generations of ownership by the David Sears family the official name became Sears Island, some years after the town was named Searsport.

Based on information from A HISTORY OF SEARS ISLAND, Searsport, Maine, by Joel Eastman, Searsport Historical Society, 1976 , and from personal interviews.

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Upcoming Events PDF Print E-mail
Written by Aleta McKeage   
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 12:07

Some other DATES TO REMEMBER: Be sure to pick the dates that interest you and write and write them in on your calendars:

Tuesday, April 8, 12:00 PM -- at Hutchinson Center, Belfast--- PUBLIC INPUT SESSION ON DREDGING IN SEARSPORT HARBOR

See article below for more information.


Saturday, April 26, 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM -- at UMaine Orono -- HOPE FESTIVAL --
We opted not to have a table this year, for valid reasons, but suggested that some people attend and roam (it's a really
good, interesting event), wearing a FOSI hat or badge, and having some handouts with them.


Sunday, April 27, 10:00 AM - 12:00 Pm, SIGNS OF SPRING ON SEARS ISLAND--. Enjoy a varied and entertaining nature walk with an expert naturalist Todd Miller to look for spring activity on the island. This walk will be appropriate for children and adults. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy after the walk if you'd like. Rain date is May 3rd.


Saturday, May 10, BIRD WALK ON SEARS ISLAND, Co-sponsored withh BBWC (Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition) -- For more details, check with BBWC's Newsletter on line.


OTHER ACTIVITIES April and May -- MID COAST FROG WATCH --We'd like to get any FOSI members or volunteers that would like to help survey amphibians on Sears Island to participate. 

It's easy, fun, and only requires a few visits to small wetland areas. If you'd like to work at another wetland off the island, this is a chance to do the work in other areas, as well. The more we know about what frogs and toads are present on Sears Island now, the greater the likelihood we can become aware of declines in populations or loss of species diversity in the future.

Contact Aleta if you have questions or would like training to participate.



Enjoy a spring walk (easy to moderate pace) around Sears Island - the jewel in Penobscot Bay.  Sierra Club Maine and Friends of Sears Island will cohost the walk, led by Sierra Club Outings Leader, Linda Murray and Bill Briggs, from 2–4 p.m. on Saturday May 31st.  Parking and access is at the causeway at the end of Sears Island Road off of Route 1 in Searsport.  Sears Island offers a wonderful opportunity for an easily accessible island experience, with abundant botanic and geological features to explore on the trails in the woods and along the shoreline.  

This event is one of many being planned around the state to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Celebrate nature and wildness, as well as some of the history of Sears Island, which the Sierra Club, Friends of Sears Island and others have worked for over 30 years to protect. 

Advance registration is not required.  For more information, contact Linda Murray at 207-205-4467 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 13:01
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