An aerial view of kayakers paddling around Little Whaleboat Island in Maine's Casco Bay.
By Erinne Magee

Maine Beer Company may be known for brewing tasty sips, but the company was also founded upon the principle of giving back, and right now, the focus is on fundraising to preserve a trio of Maine islands in Casco Bay called Little Whaleboat.

In partnership with Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the goal is to raise $1.3 million by the time the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.

“Getting the opportunity to visit these islands was such an unforgettable and unique experience,” says Anne Marisic, Marketing and Communications Manager for MBC, who brought a number of MBC staff to Little Whaleboat for a first-hand look at their mission. “You could see the effect it had on the faces of our team as they jumped off the boat. That is an experience worth protecting and one worth sharing.”

Distance-wise, the three islands aren’t too far from shore, but Marisic says stepping onto the islands makes you feel like you are hundreds of miles away. 

“You can watch the tides change the formation of the islands, see osprey and bald eagles challenging each other for territory, seals curiously checking out what’s going on, and herons making their return to the island.”

Maine Beer Company is so committed to the preservation that they also brewed a beer after the island’s namesake: Little Whaleboat IPA is now available in the Freeport tasting room with nationwide distribution starting in 2022. While MBC works with a number of nonprofits, one percent of all sales from beer, food and merchandise is donated back to these partnerships.

Marisic notes land preservation and climate action as two big issues that MBC likes to target with their nonprofit giving and helping MCHT to preserve this Little Whaleboat was a rare and exciting opportunity.

Maine has 3478 miles of coastline, the majority of which is made up of the hundreds of islands along its coast. Currently many of these islands are private, meaning Maine residents and visitors don’t get to experience them. Also, there is little control over how the islands are utilized. 

The acquisition of Little Whaleboat will give Mainers access to the islands for recreational activities like camping but it will also prevent over-developing by committing to preserving the habitat for wildlife. 

When MCHT was founded, their goal was to address the unplanned development along Maine’s coast that, according to their website, “threatened the land and water resources [that] Maine people, plants and animals depended on.”

“By supporting Little Whaleboat,” Marisic says, “people can help create permanent access to Maine’s coast for everyone and help take some control over fighting climate change affecting our environment.”

While donations are an important aspect of this fundraising, sharing the story of MCHT’s work, volunteering and helping to care for these spaces as you enjoy them are all ways that people can become involved. 

“We hope that people learn about the broader scope of MCHT’s work and start to explore some of the places they have helped preserve,” says Marisic. “Maine is filled with secret gems up and down the coast, and MCHT is largely responsible for helping keep these places wild and accessible for visitors.”

MBC kicked off the fundraiser with a $50,000 donation. Fundraising covers land acquisition costs, MCHT’s pooled stewardship funds, as well as operational support.

“These islands are real treasures,” says MBC co-founder Daniel Kleban. “It’s easy to forget how fortunate we are in Maine to have places like Little Whaleboat that are just so close to shore and yet feel totally remote and so peaceful. It takes effort from organizations and people who are in a position to help to conserve places like this.”

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