Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary A Brief History… Somes Pond is one of the natural treasures of historic Somesville. Generations of local residents have appreciated the pond and its surrounding landscape for plentiful wildlife, clean waters, scenic beauty, recreational opportunities, and for its place in the history of Somesville.

A direct descendent of Somesville founder Abraham Somes, Dr. Virginia Somes-Sanderson (photo below), wanted to further preserve the natural beauty of the area and protect it from further development. The idea became a reality in 1985 with the formation of the Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary.

Virginia grew up in Somesville and maintained a residence and land on Somes Pond until her death in 1990. Ms. Sanderson donated her Somes Pond cottage and surrounding land to create the Sanctuary. During her lifetime, Virginia Sanderson worked in the field of education as a professor of special education. Upon her retirement in 1982, she wrote and published a history of Somesville titled, “A Living History.”

The Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary was incorporated for charitable, educational and scientific purposes; namely: (a) the preservation, maintenance, management and enhancement of the natural and historic values and habitats; (b) the care and protection of the wildlife of the Sanctuary and its environs; (c) the education, enlightenment, and enjoyment of the residents of Mount Desert Island and the Public of the values of ecology, conservation and natural history through Sanctuary activities and nature interpretation; and (d) conservation of the Somes Pond Watershed; wildlife habitats and natural resources (taken from the By-Laws of the Sanctuary, Article II, Purposes). Through the vision and work of its trustees, staff, friends, and neighbors the Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary has grown since its founding, now consisting of 230 acres in fee ownership and many more acres protected by conservation easements on private property in the Somes Pond Watershed.

Some of the long running programs and activities of the Sanctuary include loon nesting success studies on all the lakes of MDI, alewife (river herring) fish passage and population monitoring for the annual migration from Somes Sound to Somes Pond and Long Pond, water quality monitoring, invasive aquatic plant patrols, courtesy boat inspections for aquatic invasives, public recreation and education programs, and school programs of many types. The Sanctuary collaborates with many partner organizations including Acadia National Park, College of the Atlantic, Lakes Environmental Association, and the Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program to accomplish its work. A large number of great volunteers help with everything from trail maintenance to loon and alewife monitoring.

The Sanctuary depends on the generosity of members from all over the country who value this place and work to help fund our operations. The organization was successfully led by David Lamon as Director for 15 years. Billy Helprin, formerly the MDI Regional Steward for Maine Coast Heritage Trust, became the new Director in summer 2015. The Sanctuary has a dedicated Board of Directors who provide guidance, support, and work to accomplish our goals.