Archive for category: Blog

Parking at Cathance River Nature Preserve

The status of Hiker Parking at Cathance River Nature Preserve remains in flux due to active development in the vicinity.  We will try to post updates as things change.

Please note that Ecology Center parking will be closed for paving at some points in the coming week (April 22-29), most likely on Tuesday.

Please respect roped off areas – cars will be towed by the contractor! No parking is allowed along the roads of Highland Green.

So what to do if you were hoping for a nice hike along the Cathance? We encourage you to use the parking at Head of Tide Park, which is plentiful and easy to access along the Cathance Road in Topsham.

Head of Tide Park is a just 1.4 mile hike from CRNP. From the Park, the Cathance River Trail (click for trailmap) snakes along the river and through its uplands, providing views of the pristine river and its undisturbed natural surroundings. The trail leads to the impressive 60-foot aluminum Clay Brook pedestrian bridge which was locally designed and fabricated and provides a trail connection to CRNP. Click HERE to read more about how this great trail connection was made possible.

Another option is to park at the golf clubhouse at Highland Green and walk on the sidewalk to trails. It is about half a mile to the golf cart path across from Sparrow Drive, which provides access to the Heath Trail. It is about ¾ mile to the trailhead at the Ecology Center.

Happy hiking!

ME Search and Rescue Dogs Training at CSF on 3/25

Please be advised that Maine Search and Rescue Dogs (MESARD) will be at Crystal Spring Farm for a training on Saturday, March 25 (as well as along Allagash Drive on Brunswick Landing).

This is a training for the dogs and their handlers (they are not engaged in an actual search for a lost person). Please note that these dogs have special permission to be off-leash at CSF for training purposes only. 

It is not a public event. While the public is still welcome to use the trails at Crystal Spring Farm, please be advised that the dogs will be present, and you should respectfully give them space to do their work.

If you would like to read more about a previous training held at Crysal Spring Farm, please check out Hiding in the Woods at Crystal Spring Farm.

Maine Search and Rescue Dogs is a volunteer K9 Search and Rescue group in Maine that supports search missions conducted by the Maine Warden Service, State Police, and other law enforcement agencies across Maine. A MESARD team consists of a K9 handler and a search dog that have completed extensive training and passed certifications. All MESARD teams comply with the Maine Association for Search and Rescue standards.

Please contact info@btlt.org with any questions or concerns.

Volunteers at the Heart of Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Work

An enthusiastic crowd of Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) volunteers gathered at The Brunswick Inn on Thursday evening in an event to recognize and thank the many volunteers who help conserve and steward land, build trails, and connect our community to the land.

The Land Trust is lucky to have more than 50 volunteers who help us with our work to steward some of the most special lands in our community. Last Thursday night was an opportunity for BTLT to express our gratitude and give a little something back to the volunteers who are at the heart of our organization.

“The hundreds of hours contributed by volunteers make it possible to manage and monitor 52 conservation properties and maintain our trails,” said Margaret Gerber, BTLT Land and Stewardship Associate.

The volunteers were also able to view the new film Community Conservation by local filmmaker, Mark Ireland, which highlights several ongoing projects of BTLT.

The Brunswick Inn is a Land Trust Business Partner and generously hosted the event and provided delicious sustenance to the group. Highlights of BTLT stewardship work in the past year include:

  • Building new trails at Chase Reserve in Brunswick and along the Androscoggin River in Topsham;
  • Monitoring 29 easement properties and 14 Land Trust-owned properties;
  • Engaging 15 dedicated Trail Monitors who keep a watchful eye on the 17 miles of BTLT trails and help keep them passable and enjoyable for all users;
  • Utilizing a tireless cadre of diehard Trail Stewards that tackle blow downs, bog bridging, stone hauling, you name it to keep trails safe and open;
  • Replacing and improving the Beaver Brook Bridge at the popular Cathance River Nature Preserve.

Looking ahead to the 2017 work season, the BTLT Stewardship team will focus on:

  • Kicking off the season on Earth Day with half day work parties at the Farmers’ Market Green and the Labyrinth in the Woods;
  • Improving access and trails at the newly conserved Woodward Cove property;
  • Replacing bog bridging and improving existing trails on the Heath Loop at the Cathance River Nature Preserve.

“Managing and caring for the lands that we conserve is some of the most important work that we do at the Land Trust and it is a commitment that we make forever with each property we conserve”, says Angela Twitchell, BTLT Executive Director.

Over the next several years, BTLT hopes to raise $2 million for stewardship endowment to underwrite the cost of stewardship above and beyond the significant contribution made by the dedicated team of BTLT volunteers.

The Land Trust has been working for over 35 years in the Brunswick-Topsham region to strengthen their community through conservation. They manage over 17 miles of trails, the Saturday Farmers Market at Crystal Spring Farm, Tom Settlemire Community Garden, and the Labyrinth in the Woods, along will a diverse array of events and programs.

“We couldn’t do all the work that we do without the support and partnership of our volunteers and members, especially our business members like the Brunswick Inn,” said Twitchell.

Spring Birding Extravaganza 2017

Join BTLT and our conservation neighbors again this year for the Spring Birding Extravaganza!

Birders of all ages and experience levels are invited to take part in the fifth annual Birding Extravaganza, a free series of birding events sponsored by four conservation organizations in Midcoast Maine. Merrymeeting Audubon (MMA), Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust have collaborated to offer eight opportunities to watch for and learn about a wide range of birds, both seasonal migrants and permanent residents.

The series is a way to encourage community members to enjoy and learn about the our beautiful natural areas and introduces folks to all of the land trusts’ preserves and trails. The protected areas of the three land trusts cover thirteen towns in a region known as a global hotspot for migratory birds.

“The land trusts work hard to provide a variety of trails for the public to experience the natural wonder of our region. It’s thrilling to showcase these special outdoor places by birding with people of all ages,” said Carrie Kinne, Executive Director of the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust,

“The series gives the perfect excuse to visit and experience a new outdoor place not so far from home.”

“Every year this series is an absolute favorite with our community,” said Lee Cataldo, Outreach and Education Coordinator at Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. “We truly love this partnership with the neighboring land trusts and MMA. It is such a great way to bring folks from all over the region to new trails and properties, and to get to see some of the amazing migratory birds that pass through the Midcoast.”

This year, the walks range in topic from observing songbirds at Crystal Spring Farm to an evening presentation about migrating herons in Harpswell to a walk to see birds of the forests, meadows and wetlands on Westport Island. These walks are accessible to many, including outings for experienced and novice birders, families and those unable to walk great distances.

All events are free and open to the public. You can visit the websites of the four hosting organizations for more information on these terrific treks to observe our feathered friends.

 

Details on each event:

On Thursday, April 13 from 6-7:30 p.m. join Harpswell Heritage Land Trust for a presentation titled: Herons in Migration. Hear about a new initiative to track the nesting, migration and wintering habits of Great Blue Herons and how the results so far tie in with what we know about the natural history and current status of Maine’s heron population. Our speaker is Danielle D’Auria of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. FMI: www.hhltmaine.org, 207-837-9613 or outreach@hhltmaine.org.

On Thursday, April 27 at 6:00 p.m. join the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust to learn more about Osprey and how you can get involved in Osprey Watch. This international citizen science projects makes it easy for anyone to monitor local Osprey nests and report data that helps us better understand this amazing and threatened species. FMI: www.btlt.org or lee@btlt.org .

On Saturday, April 29 at 8:00 a.m. join Merrymeeting Audubon and the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT) to explore Whiskeag Creek where it empties into the Kennebec River at Thorne Head. Bird species we hope to see include Canada Geese, Black Ducks, Mallards, Blue and Green-winged Teal, Common Mergansers, as well as early arriving songbirds. Meet at the Bath CVS at 7:30 a.m. to carpool. FMI Ted Allen at 729-8661.

On Saturday, April 29 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. join the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust for Birding for Kids, a free, hands-on workshop for families. Participants will learn how to begin identifying birds through their shape, size, beaks, songs and habitat. The group will explore how differently shaped beaks are designed for different foods, listen to some common bird songs and go for a walk to try to identify birds using skills they’ve learned. Join us at Curtis Farm Preserve, 1554 Harpswell Neck Road, Harpswell. Bring binoculars. FMI: www.hhltmaine.org, 207-837-9613, outreach@hhltmaine.org.

On Friday, May 12 at 7:30 a.m.  join expert birder Jan Pierson for a popular annual outing to Brunswick Topsham Land Trust’s Crystal Spring Farm in Brunswick.  This walk is through a variety of habitats, including fields, forests, and wetland. We hope to see sparrows, Bluebirds, Bobolinks, and several species of warblers. Bring your binoculars, and meet at Crystal Spring Farm’s Farmers’ Market Green on Pleasant Hill Road in Brunswick. FMI: Ted Allen, 207-729-8661.

On Saturday, May 13 at 8:00 a.m. birders of all ages are invited to the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust’s Squam Creek Preserve on Westport Island to scout for birds on this new preserve led by volunteer and local birding enthusiast, Robert Carnicella. With a variety of habitats ranging from fields to woodlands to wetlands, Squam Creek is the perfect place to practice birding techniques. Wear boots or shoes that can get mucky and bring a pair of binoculars. FMI: www.kennebecestuary.org/birding-extravaganza, 207-442-8400.

On Tuesday, May 23 at 8:00 a.m. join us for the Bradley Pond Warbler walk in Topsham. This relatively easy walk passes through a conservation easement surrounding a privately-owned working farm. The easement includes varied habitats. We’ll focus on migrating land birds: warblers, flycatchers, blackbirds, vireos, sparrows and an occasional raptor. Meet at the Brunswick Hannaford at 7:30 a.m. or at Bradley Pond Preserve, second parking lot at 8:00 a.m. FMI: Ted Allen, 207-729-8661

On Saturday, May 27 at 8:00 a.m. Ted Allen from Merrymeeting Audubon will lead birders through the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust’s Thorne Head Preserve in Bath. Overlooking Whiskeag Creek as it converges with the Kennebec River, the preserve is located on the Maine Birding Trail and is rich in migrating warblers and vireos.  Participants can meet at 7:30 a.m. at the CVS in Bath to carpool.  FMI: Ted Allen, 207-729-8661.

On Saturday June 10 at 8:00 a.m. join us at the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Cathance River Nature Preserve in Topsham. The forest, river, and heath of the Preserve offer varied habitats for an array of migratory birds. We will walk the trails looking for Towhees, sparrows, warblers, woodpeckers, and other birds. Wildflowers, ferns, and mosses grow in the moist woods by the river.

Land Trust Partnership with Bowdoin Student Highlighted

We were excited to see this project by Mikayla Kifer highlighted on the Bowdoin website. We worked closely with Mikayla in the fall of 2016 on her interactive GIS “story map” called Invasive Species Management for the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust

We love partnering with Bowdoin students in all of the diverse ways that we do. This project was particularly rewarding because this map is so useful to us and the community, and the connection we made with Mikayla is continuing to grow.

Thank you to Mikayla and Eileen Johnson, Program Manager of the Bowdoin Environmental Studies Program.

Overview of the Story Map:

“In order to understand the current data collection and invasive management capabilities of the BTLT and make recommendations for improvements to data collection methods, this study uses data on invasive species made available by the BTLT and iMap Invasives, a data collection and management system, and visualizes and analyzes it to determine its capabilities and weaknesses.

This study primarily addresses two questions: (1) What is the range and extent of invasive species on BTLT properties? (2) How should the BTLT move forward in collecting data on invasive species on their properties?”

FEED THE SOIL, NOT THE PLANT!! Learning from January 15th Winter Gardening Workshop

By Emily Swan, BTLT Board Secretary and Community Engagement and Programs Committee Chair.

Emily Swan

“Feed the soil, not the plant. If there’s one thing you take away from this lecture, this is it!” Master Gardener Linton Studdiford told the capacity crowd gathered to hear his talk about organic soil management in the St. Paul’s Church parish hall on a chilly January afternoon.

This may have been the most important message of the inaugural workshop in BTLT’s 2017 Winter Gardening Workshop series, but it was far from the only thing the 80 or so assembled gardeners learned about soils.

I came away with this practical trilogy of garden principles:
1. Feed the soil, not the plant.
2. To nourish soil, add organic matter.
3. Before you do anything, get a soil test!
And this amazing fact about the biological richness of healthy soil: there are more bacteria in one tablespoon of soil than there are people in Africa, China, and India!

And this fact sure to dampen the arrogance of any soil know-it-alls that may have been lurking in the hall: We only know 10% of the animal and plant species living in soil!

Linton’s knowledge of all aspects of gardening is encyclopedic, and we all came away with a much clearer understanding of the science of soil. But his practical knowledge of gardening is equally vast, based both on study and on decades of gardening experience, and I left with a long to-do list to improve my extremely humble garden and compost pile. I’ve just scrawled on my October calendar – “Don’t forget to use the mower bag to collect chopped leaves to add to the compost pile next winter!” For November – “Dig leaves into garden,” and for May – “Apply compost but don’t overtill!!” For April/May – “The time to add nitrogen is in late spring to stimulate plant growth when the soil is still cold.” And the list goes on and on.

What better time than the depths of winter to expand your gardening knowledge? Now I’m just chomping at the bit to get into the garden and put it all into practice!

The next Winter Gardening Workshop is Sunday, January 29, and will be an opportunity to learn about Permaculture from one of the region’s leading experts, Jesse Watson. Learn more at:www.btlt.org/wgw-permaculture

A beautiful night at the Labyrinth

In celebration of the changing of the season, on December 21 over 100 people gathered at the Labyrinth in the Woods to walk the path, sing songs, and bring joy and community into the longest night of the year.

Thank you to Sarah Rodgers and First Parish Church for making the event a reality, and Trevor Peterson for the lovely video.