The Maine Island Trail Association announced Monday it has received a $100,000 grant from L.L. Bean toward an endowment that will help ensure the nonprofit’s stewardship work on a waterway trail that stretches from Kittery to the Canadian border.

The trail association, which formed in 1987, maintains 154 islands and 58 mainland sites along the 375-mile waterway. The sites are open to the public for daytime and overnight recreational use by boaters and paddlers.

With eight full-time employees, 30 volunteer skippers and more than 200 other volunteers, the group works to maintain the 212 sites. The stops along the trail are owned by 90 entities (land trusts or private individuals), according to the association.

The group launched a $2 million capital campaign two years ago, and the grant from L.L. Bean raises its fundraising to $900,000, according to a press release. The endowment will help fund the cost of transportation – the lion’s share of the association’s annual budget of $665,000 – said MITA executive director Doug Welch.

“If the endowment generated 4 percent a year, it would bring $80,000 worth of value to our stewardship work. That would be a huge boon to our ability to keep the islands clean,” Welch said. “Most of the work is done by volunteers for free, so as long as we can provide the infrastructure, then this work can continue indefinitely.”

Last year a survey of the nonprofit’s 4,000 members returned a response from 750 who said the association should continue doing the same work it has for 25 years – maintaining Maine islands using volunteer labor.

“We wanted to get their opinion on whether with the world changing so much we should change our mission,” Welch said. “And what we heard very clearly was that we should stay the course. So we are going to double down on our stewardship work.”

In 2014, L.L. Bean gave $1.9 million to 200 nonprofit organizations, most of which focus on conservation and recreation, said L.L. Bean spokeswoman Carolyn Beem. MITA was deemed worthwhile, said Beem, because it has shown staying power.

“L.L. Bean is one of the founding members of MITA. In the past, L.L. Bean gave gifts under $10,000 to MITA. Right now, we think MITA is doing a fabulous job,” Beem said. “They share our goal and mission to provide access to the outdoors and to increase respectful use of the outdoors. We think the endowment is an important part of MITA’s future.”

Welch said the association has focused in the past few years on increasing awareness of its stewardship work. The recent gift, he said, is one sign among many that MITA’s work is making a difference to the public.

The past two years, the trail organization also got a public-relations lift when Rising Tide Brewery in Portland rolled out a beer named “Maine Island Trail Ale.”

The Rising Tide website states of the seasonal ale, “The Maine Island Trail Association’s thoughtful use and volunteer stewardship of Maine’s wild islands mirrors Rising Tide’s respect and love for the coast of Maine.”

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