Two communities on opposite coasts fight to preserve their waterfront properties.

By Allen B. Bunting
April 29, 2008
Two communities on opposite coasts fight to preserve their waterfront properties.
Courtesy of Holbrook Community Foundation

Holbrook's Wharf
According to the Island Institute, all but roughly 10 miles of Maine's mainland coast is privately owned and subject to development. That's a sobering reality for the fishermen who depend on a commercial waterfront to give them access to the water. One of the state's few remaining working waterfronts, Holbrook's Wharf in Cundy's Harbor consists of a fishing wharf, general store, snack bar, and two apartment rentals. When owners decided to sell the ¾-acre parcel in 2005, a group of concerned citizens formed the Holbrook Community Foundation (HCF) to save the property and its fishing tradition. A hefty $1.25 million price tag didn't sway the HCF. Instead, it joined forces with The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and gathered monetary support through grants, loans, and donations. In December 2006, HCF was granted ownership. Since then, volunteers have run the foundation and organized contractors to restore Holbrook's Wharf and buildings, providing the threatened area with a self-sustaining economy.

For more about Holbrook's Wharf, visit

Ellwood Mesa
With native grasslands, seasonal pools, and tall bluffs, this undeveloped stretch in Goleta, California, is a vital habitat for wildlife. Thousands of migrating monarch butterflies stop here each winter, and the area serves as a playground for travelers exploring the Gaviota Coast. But when Ellwood Mesa's landowner decided to sell, plans were set in motion to transform the 137-acre site into a residential community of luxury homes.

The City of Goleta, The Trust for Public Land, Friends of the Ellwood Coast, and the community entered an almost 30-year battle to save the land. After countless negotiations, donations, and grants, the parties agreed to rezone the development away from the shorefront, reduce its acreage, and designate a portion of the property as the city-owned Sperling Preserve. Today, visitors can explore the protected land and enjoy unobstructed views of the Pacific.

To donate to Sperling Preserve, visit