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Hartley Conservation group places boundary markers in disputed intertidal zone

By Kendra Caruso | Oct 24, 2019
Courtesy of: Andrew Stevenson A new sign marking the southern end of the Harriet L. Hartley Conservation Area in Belfast Oct. 19.

Belfast — Friends of Harriet L. Hartley Conservation Area board members have planted signs on the north and south ends of the intertidal zone granted several months ago in a conservation easement to local advocacy group Upstream Watch.

The Oct. 19 event drew a crowd of over 70 people, according to Friends of Harriet secretary Andrew Stevenson. People weren’t able to walk the full 12-acre area because the tide was rising, but it can be walked in its entirety at low tide.

Board members and property owners Jeffrey Mabee and Judith Grace placed the intertidal zone in the conservation easement to respect Harriet L. Hartley’s wishes to keep the area development-free. Their hope is that people will use it for leisurely strolls and the scenic beauty.

Hartley and her husband bought the house and land in front of the intertidal zone in 1924 as a summer home. She was one of only a few female pediatric doctors at that time.

Before her death in 1950, she sold the land in several parcels, using the high tide mark as the property boundary. She left the whole intertidal zone attached to Mabee and Grace’s property deed at the conservation area’s southern end, according to historic deeds Paul Bernacki and Attorney Kim Ervin Tucker approached them with.

Nordic Aquafarms, a large fish farm being proposed beside the Little River, wants to run a discharge pipe through the intertidal zone in front of Richard and Janet Eckrote’s property. Mabee and Grace claim to own the intertidal zone in front of the Eckrotes’ home.

Hartley wrote a covenant in all property deeds that prevents the land from being used for development purposes, according to other deeds the fish farm opponents have uncovered.

Mabee and Grace claim Nordic is using a slanderous title — a false statement disparaging a property title — to acquire intertidal zone access in front of the Eckrotes’ property. The most recent deed claims the Eckrotes’ property line is at “said bay,” which is interpreted as low tide.

Mabee and Grace have filed a lawsuit against the Eckrotes and Nordic about the allegedly slanderous title based on the historic deeds. They said that all other deeds before the Eckrotes’ most recent one say “high tide.”

The lawsuit is still being processed and the conservation area’s fate is unknown. Mabee and Grace watched their children and grandchildren play in the bay and said they hope that Hartley’s vision for the area will be protected so people can enjoy it.


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Comments (6)
Posted by: Susan Guthrie | Oct 30, 2019 22:29

I am a friend of the Harriet L. Hartley Conservation Area

All over this country, foreign and domestic corporations are aggressively seeking to access municipal water supplies and natural waterways for short-term international investor's profits.

Many of us in Belfast and all around Waldo County are passionate about protecting our water resources and natural waterways for future generations.

Waldo County is world-famous for its return to sustainable agriculture and aquaculture as a direction to save our environment.

If preserving the natural world that we have left is important to you, please become a friend of the Harriet L. Hartley Conservation Area and support the fight to keep it safe, forever.

Susan Guthrie, Belfast

Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Oct 25, 2019 20:31

Ownership means ownership. The public has access over the tidal flats as they have historically. The Moody Beach case outlined ownership and the public use of the submerged lands. Old law that has been visited in Maine in the past. Thayer would like to park his carcass in the Mabee's driveway and stroll on down. Can't imagine he would figure another way onto the flats but parking would suit his largesse.

Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Oct 25, 2019 19:11

"unofficial conservation area"? It is called a conservation easement. No dispute here. The pipeline crew seek ownership via the courts as that is their only recourse. They have not been able to show ownership from the beginning. The State has coddled this group to show RTI and it has failed to do so at every turn. They don't have it and they will not get it. You "guess" the judge will not look kindly on a ownership claim? Why would a judge care about that in any event? So you guess and you wonder big guy? Do you play the guessing game all by your onesies?  Lonely at the top of your heap.

Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Oct 25, 2019 13:30

What are you talking about Seth? They own it. You can post private property. Snarky.

Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Oct 25, 2019 11:27

Can we dig clams there?

Posted by: Seth Thayer | Oct 25, 2019 06:28

My guess is that the Judge will not look kindly on a bunch of people creating an unofficial conservation area on disputed land (particularly since the dispute is being raised by the same group of people) . So, do we all park in the Mabee's driveway to access the Scenic walk?

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