Grandson donates L.L. Bean’s old hunting island for conservation, public access

Posted Jan. 13, 2014, at 11:07 a.m.
Lanes Island, seen here in a photograph by the Freeport Conservation Trust, has donated by Leon and Lisa Gorman for conservation. Leon Gorman is the grandson of L.L. Bean, founder of the iconic outdoor apparel company.
Courtesy of Freeport Conservation Trust
Lanes Island, seen here in a photograph by the Freeport Conservation Trust, has donated by Leon and Lisa Gorman for conservation. Leon Gorman is the grandson of L.L. Bean, founder of the iconic outdoor apparel company.
An aerial photograph provided by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust shows Lanes Island, near the mouth of the Royal River in Yarmouth. The island was an important hunting spot for L.L. Bean, and was donated for conservation by his grandson, Leon Gorman, and his wife.
Courtesy of Maine Coast Heritage Trust
An aerial photograph provided by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust shows Lanes Island, near the mouth of the Royal River in Yarmouth. The island was an important hunting spot for L.L. Bean, and was donated for conservation by his grandson, Leon Gorman, and his wife.

YARMOUTH, Maine — Lisa and Leon Gorman have donated for conservation a Casco Bay island once used by Gorman’s grandfather, iconic Maine outdoor clothier L.L. Bean, as a favorite hunting spot.

The 28-acre Lanes Island is located near the mouth of the Royal River in Yarmouth. Bean — whose now nearly 102-year-old Freeport company is one of the world’s best-known retailers of hunting, fishing and camping supplies — often hunted on the island during the 1930s with George Soule, a renowned decoy carver of the era.

“This is great news for all who love Casco Bay,” said Roger Berle, Cliff Island resident and longtime conservationist, in a statement released Monday by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, which will oversee conservation efforts on the property. “Lanes is a special place and it’s great to know it will continue to be a home for wildlife as well as a place that people can enjoy.”

Gorman began acquiring parts of the island in 1968 and finally secured full ownership of the property in 2010, according to the trust.

Lanes Island is “easily accessed from the mainland” with “more than a mile of shoreline, including sand beaches,” the trust’s release states. The property is home to nesting bald eagles, has been recognized by the state as ecologically significant because of its waterfowl and shorebird populations, and is surrounded by mudflats used by local clammers.

“For those of us who live and work near Casco Bay, we understand what a precious resource the islands are,” said Maine Coast Heritage Trust president Tim Glidden in Monday’s statement. “With more people realizing what a unique quality of life and place there is in this region, it is essential that we continue the important work of maintaining and expanding public access to the land. We are grateful to Leon and Lisa Gorman for their vision and generosity in making this gift.”

Gorman led the company bearing his grandfather’s name in various capacities for 45 years before stepping down last spring and turning the board chairmanship over to his nephew, Shawn Gorman.

“The conservation of Lanes Island is a great help to all of us working to restore and protect the Royal River, its connection to Casco Bay, and the economic vitality of Yarmouth’s harbor,” said Eugenie Francine, board president for the Royal River Conservation Trust, in a Monday statement. “Our gratitude to the donors and to Maine Coast Heritage Trust cannot be overstated.”

The Maine Coast Heritage Trust will now turn its attention to developing a long-term management plan for the island “that seeks to balance the ongoing need for ecological protection with opportunities for public recreation, including visits by small boats, exploration and duck hunting,” the organization stated Monday.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust is also working with community partners to raise money to secure public access to the northern part of Clapboard Island near Falmouth for the first time since the 19th century, as well as to purchase the two small Gosling Islands near Harpswell.

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