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Effort underway to buy the Goslings islands in Casco Bay

HARPSWELL (WGME) -- They're a set of islands off Harpswell known as the Goslings; and they're up for sale. Thousands of people go to the Goslings every summer to camp and play. But for that to continue all depends on who buys the islands. (To find out more about the Goslings and how you can donate to help buy the islands, CLICK HERE.)

There are 136 islands in Casco Bay.  But for many kayakers and campers, the Goslings are their favorite. The Goslings are two islands in the bay between Brunswick and Harpswell. Dads have taken their kids camping there for years. Judy Marsh of Paul's Marina says "My father used to take me there when I was little. And we used to go camping there."

Marsh says children are always talking about their adventures on the Goslings, saying things like "We're going to hunt pirates on the Goslings." The LeMaitre family, who owns the Goslings, have allowed unlimited public access to those islands for years. Now, they're selling the islands, preferably to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Tim Glidden is President of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. He says "We are now in the process of trying to raise $925,000 to buy the Goslings and to care for it forever so that public access will be guaranteed." Glidden says the family plans to give them nearby Irony Island and sell them the Goslings for three quarters of a million dollars.

The rest of the money would be used to care for the islands. But there is a deadline; the end of summer. Judy Marsh says "They called us and said we only have so much time. Can you help us out? So we said sure, we'd give it a try." Local marinas and yacht clubs are selling t-shirts and hats and putting on regattas and raffles to try and raise the money.

The trust has raised over $400,000 to purchase the Goslings. That still leaves a half million. But many people here believe it will be money well spent to keep those islands open to the public forever. Nick Rathbone of Brunswick says "We've been really lucky with a long tradition of landowners sharing what they have here. But better to lock it in if we possibly can."

He and Chris Thomas just got back from a camping trip with their young sons on the Goslings. Nick's son, Nat Rathbone, says "We went fishing and I caught nine fish and then we went on the tube and I got frozen." This was the first time on the islands for Chris Thomas and his son, Henry. Chris Thomas of Seattle called the islands "spectacular."

His son Henry agreed, saying he liked them "Because the campgrounds were all grassy." The Goslings are one of the most popular destinations in Casco Bay. And families want to keep it that way. Judy Marsh says "If Maine Coast Heritage Trust gets them then we know that it's safe and that people will always be able to use them."