Woodie Wheaton Land Trust purchases and preserves East Grand Lake’s Greenland Island
2008 – Greenland Island – The Woodie Wheaton Land Trust has purchased scenic Greenland Island, in East Grand Lake. The purchase was undertaken for the benefit of the general public — for the aesthetic and recreational enjoyment of all lake users. The land trust is committed to preserving the natural character of East Grand Lake for future generations.
Located near the Greenland Point Landing in the Town of Danforth, Greenland Island has long served as a place where local residents and visitors can enjoy a quiet respite under its dense forest canopy, while enjoying the expansive view across the lake. Consisting of over one half mile of rugged, undeveloped, forested shoreline, the island also contributes greatly to the natural beauty of East Grand Lake.
To ensure that this local landmark will forever provide public benefit, and that development rights are extinguished, the Woodie Wheaton Land Trust has responded to the property’s appearance on the real estate market by purchasing it with a mortgage loan from Machias Savings Bank. The land trust has purchased the property and created a stewarship endowment for the island. We are still in the process of raising money for the endowment.
Saving Greenland Island
The Woodie Wheaton Land Trust has long viewed Greenland Island in East Grand Lake as a critical component of lake conservation. When the island came on the market in 2008, the trust acted quickly to purchase it via a mortgage loan. The next summer, WWLT board ,staff and members gave the island an interior makeover. Filling plastic garbage bags with decades-old rubbish, they tidied up the grounds and transported the debris to the Danforth landfill. They also repaired the picnic table and improved the pathway on the south side.
For all lake users, Greenland Island is a precious oasis. WWLT is committed to permanently maintaining this scenic site for primitive picnicking and camping. The island can once again be enjoyed by all––guides who spin their stories at lunch, visitors who want to enjoy the natural setting, and local folks who wish to have a few moments “away from it all.” Such special spaces and experiences are only made possible through the efforts of members; members like Ben Garson, who was moved to youthful fundraising and volunteerism as the 4th generation of family sportsmen to ply the waters of East Grand Lake. You too can help extinguish the mortgage by making a donation to WWLT, 2 Grove Rd., Forest City, ME 04413.
The Two Lobes of Greenland Island
This property is an island located in East Grand Lake in Danforth, Washington County, Maine. East Grand Lake is situated in the headwaters of the East Branch of the St. Croix River and serves as the international boundary between New Brunswick, Canada and Maine, USA. East Grand Lake is a large cold water fishery of approximately 16,070 acres with a maximum depth of 128 feet. It is stocked with landlocked salmon and contains a natural population of lake trout and smallmouth bass. The property is situated near Greenland Cove, a neighborhood containing seasonal shorefront camp lots and a commercial campground. There is a public boat launch and public parking area about 1/4 mile east of the island that can serve as an access point. Greenland Island is irregular in shape and depending on the water level (the lake drawdown can be as much as 6.5 feet) varies in size and shape. At high water, the subject can appear to be two separate islands. For this reason, the island can be described as being in two segments referred to as the “east” and “west lobes”. The entire parcel is about 6.1 acres. The east and west lobes were estimated to be 2.8 and 3.3 acres, with 1,400 and 1,600 Waterfront Footage respectively. The waterfront footage is estimated to be 3,000 feet. The island is relatively flat and rocky with shallow soils. The shoreline is rocky and shallow, making it challenging to approach by motor boat.
A Brief History:
Compiled by Art and Dale Wheaton
Viewing the glittering 16,070 acres of East Grand Lake from the air, one immediately notices distinctive, kidney-shaped Greenland Island abutting the lake’s largest open-water expanse. On the water — unlike Billy and Nan Islands, which are occupied by herring and black-backed gulls — Greenland’s forested profile invites fishermen and picnickers to come ashore, its double lobes boasting 3,100 feet of rocky shoreline.
Why do we think so much of this special place? It is one of the landmarks of East Grand Lake, and those of us who see it up close and personal have fond memories of this little pearl and its intriguing history.
Bud Brooks, at 82 years young and a font of historical knowledge, remembers being towed on a sled across the slick, gleaming ice by his dad, Waldo, a superb skater. On their way home from Danforth, they stopped and visited Billy Springer, locally known as “the hermit of Greenland Island.” Mr. Springer was a lanky fellow who lived alone in his sturdy cabin with a team of work horses in a nearby shed — his sole company through the long Maine winter. His old block chimney and root cellar remain as part of the island’s heritage. Bud also tells of sheep grazing on Manley (also known as Snow’s) Island which, like nearby Fosters Island, was practically barren of trees a century ago.
In 1953, Woodie Wheaton landed on the overgrown island with his fishing party to make lunch, and was surprised to find the derelict building of the old hermit, now dead for many years. Woodie also found a narrow channel where the woodsman had used his horses to carve a boat landing through the rocky shore. Later Woodie built a rustic table and fire pit, and the island became a regular lunch site for local fishing guides until the mid-l 990s, when someone erected a small structure and occupied the site during the summer months. From the open and vacant cabin — and the hermit having no known living heirs — Woodie removed an old rifle, a diary, and a family bible with many dates inscribed. The diary listed the number of steps (in thousands) across the ice to distant Forest City, Billy and Nan Islands, and other landmarks.
The Woodie Wheaton Land Trust has long viewed Greenland Island as a critical component of lake conservation to benefit residents and nonresidents alike. When the island came on the market in 2008, the trust acted quickly to purchase it via a mortgage loan. The next summer, the WWLT board and staff gave the island an interior makeover. Filling plastic garbage bags with cans and bottles, bent iron, and decades-old rubbish, they tidied up the grounds and transported the debris to the Danforth landfill. They also repaired the picnic table and improved the pathway on the south side.
Not often does a developed property have a chance to revert to its natural character with public access assured. For guides and their sports, the availability of a lunch spot with south wind protection near Greenland Cove is welcome indeed. For all lake users, Greenland Island is a precious oasis. WWLT is committed to permanently maintaining this scenic site for primitive picnicking and camping. The island can once again be enjoyed by all — guides who spin their stories at lunch, visitors who want to enjoy the natural setting, and local folks who wish to have a moments “away from it all.”