For immediate release
Contact: Paul Drinan, Executive Director
Friends of Fort Gorges Launches “Your Fort” Campaign
This summer the Friends of Fort Gorges is launching its first-ever fundraising campaign to support the development of a preservation plan for the 150-year-old fort. The City of Portland has pledged $250,000 in matching funds. The nonprofit organization whose mission is “committed to the restoration and preservation of Fort Gorges and ensuring access to facilitate its educational and cultural potential” is asking the community to support the fort and using the hashtag #yourfort.
The city-owned fort remains the iconic and magical place it’s always been. It creates a sense of intrigue and wonder for all who venture to its shores. What most people may not know is that the fort is in structural jeopardy and needs help from private as well as public sources. The “Your Fort” campaign marks the first time that the general public has ever been asked to contribute to saving the beloved park that belongs to them.
The challenges of a pandemic, an uncertain Maine tourist season and just reaching the destination – the iconic granite fortress in the center of Portland harbor – haven’t lessened the needs of Fort Gorges or deterred the efforts of the Friends.
This year’s COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions on travel may have increased Fort Gorges’s value as a tourist destination since it’s local. A newly acquired tour boat with separate spaces for socially-distanced passengers and crew, should help. In keeping with The Trust for Public Land’s 10-Minute Walk initiative, Friends of Fort Gorges is providing a 10-minute boat ride to one of Maine’s most iconic parks. Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President, at the The Trust for Public Land says “Fort Gorges is a hauntingly beautiful and unique historic resource, with tremendous potential for myriad recreational opportunities.”
The fort continues to welcome hundreds of visitors — 8,000 annually in recent years, according to surveys — who reach it on their own, as they have for generations. But it suffers from exposure to the elements, and its condition is a matter of growing concern.
“How many times have you been to the fort or passed by it on the ferry? Surely you’ve seen the Valentine Bandit’s efforts. We all have a memory of the fort. Imagine if it were no longer there. Or worse – there in plain sight but inaccessible.” asked Friends of Fort Gorges in an email to supporters this month.
The notion of this local landmark becoming inaccessible isn’t so far-fetched: because of concerns about the fort’s integrity, parts of it are already closed to visitors. The Friends are focusing on the need to fund a preservation plan and are asking donors to support it through the “Your Fort” campaign. “Our vision is to keep Fort Gorges accessible as a historic, cultural, and educational resource for generations to come.” said the Friends president, Roger Berle.
*** Our boat is reserved for a dedicated media tour on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 8/12-14, 5-9 AM. We can take 6 passengers, with masks, first come, first served. Other dates & times are available with advance notice. Contact info above.
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