Archive for category: Events

Pizza with a Purpose – All Month

We are very excited to announce a great fall fundraiser with the Land Trust’s Business Partner, Portland Pie Company.

Print and bring THIS VOUCHER into the restaurant in Brunswick, and Portland Pie Company will donate 10% of your guest check back to the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust.

(You must provide a print copy of the voucher. Only accepted at the Brunswick Portland Pie location. Valid November 1 – November 30)

What a great way to have a good meal and support community conservation at the same time!

PLUS on November 30, all day long Portland Pie will donate $1 for every pizza, Maine Beer Company beer, and kamasouptra soup purchased.

Chase Reserve Grand Opening

We opened a new trail for National Trails Day!

A new hiking trail at Chase Reserve on Bunganuc Road in Brunswick officially opened for business on National Trails Day (Saturday, June 3rd). Twenty-five adventurous souls showed up for guided walks on Saturday, curious for a look at this 193-acre property that is part of the largest undeveloped block of forestland in coastal Cumberland County. We hold a conservation easement on the property and built and manage the trail now open to the public.

On Saturday, several groups were guided along Jack’s Trail, a mile-long journey over rolling terrain through woods dominated by white pine, hemlock, and red oak, interspersed by small openings from a timber harvest. Pointing to decaying piles of branches from the harvest (slash), Land Trust Associate Director Caroline Eliot noted the benefits of leaving this material on site. It provides cover for small animals and nutrients for the next crop of trees. She added, “While it’s not pretty initially, it’s amazing how quickly the land recovers from the harvest.” Eliot pointed out how quickly ferns and wildflowers are reclaiming the herb layer and directed attention to dense spruce, fir, and white pine regeneration in small openings created by the harvest.

The trail has many small ups and downs as it winds through the hummocks and hollows of the forest.  Eliot remarked that deer tracks indicate wildlife is enjoying the trail as well. Hikers marveled at a 5-acre area of majestic, 100-year-old white pine and hemlock near the rear of the property. The easement designates this and several other areas for special management to protect particularly valuable or sensitive resources. Hikers were also fascinated by a moose rub on a six-inch diameter conifer at the edge of a clearing.  Large sections of bark had been scraped away up to seven feet above the ground by a moose’s antlers. One group observed a beaver in the beaver-created impoundment at the rear of the property. Here, at the trail’s end, the adventurous can cross an old beaver dam on the Little River (proceed with caution!), and pick up Freeport Conservation Trust’s Antoinette Jackman Trail.

The property, which is privately-owned, was conserved by Jack Henshaw in 2011. He was determined that the property, owned by his family since the 1940s, remain much as he experienced it growing up. Henshaw conveyed a conservation easement to Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust ensuring the property will never be developed but allowing continued agricultural and forest management. At Jack Henshaw’s request, the Reserve was named for Benjamin Chase, owner of the property in the 1700s and Revolutionary War soldier.

Henshaw’s two daughters, Anne and Betsy, and a granddaughter, Lila Davies, attended one of the Saturday walks. His son, John Henshaw, lives nearby and is also actively involved in the family’s management of the property. Anne Henshaw said of her father, who passed away in 2013, “I know Dad would have been thrilled with the trail and the knowledge that these woods are being enjoyed by the community, especially dogs.  He loved to walk the property over the years with the many generations of dogs who called Chase Reserve home.” Dogs are allowed on leash on the trail at Chase Reserve and several were in attendance on Saturday.

The easement protects valuable coastal habitat abutting Maquoit Bay, to the benefit of clammers, wormers, boaters, fishermen, and others. It also protects streams and forested wetlands important to water quality in the bay. The property’s diverse habitat, which includes fields, small forest openings, and mature forest, and proximity to other undeveloped properties, makes it attractive to many birds and forest-dwelling animals.

The property’s many natural values and proximity to other conserved properties made it a top candidate for conservation. The conservation easement was funded primarily by a federal National Coastal Wetlands Grant, with additional financial support from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Open Space Conservancy, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, and Jack Henshaw.

Located just before the Freeport town boundary, Chase Reserve is marked by a small parking area on the upland side of the road. Public access to the property is limited to the trail which is marked by a white blaze. Visit this property soon and experience the deep quiet and rich bird song of this woodland!

The Land Trust has been working for over 35 years in the Brunswick-Topsham region to strengthen their community through conservation. With over 2,500 acres in conserved, the Land Trust also manages over 17 miles of trails, the Saturday Farmers Market at Crystal Spring Farm, Tom Settlemire Community Garden, Labyrinth in the Woods, along will a diverse array of events and programs.

 

2017 Bylaw Update

This year at our annual meeting we will be voting on an update to our Bylaws. Please review these edits and come to our Annual Meeting on June 22 to vote.

AMENDMENT OF BYLAWS

To read the full BTLT bylaws, click HERE.

The BTLT Board of Directors has undertaken a review of our Bylaws, last updated in 201O.  A number of editorial and substantive amendments are proposed for approval by the BTLT membership at the June 22, 2017 Annual Meeting. The attached annotated Bylaws shows specific suggested amendments.  The significant changes we wish to draw to members’ attention are:

  • The Purposes section includes more explicit reference to community benefits and added language on our general commitment to good governance and compliance with IRS requirements.
  • Require all Officers to be Directors. This is our practice but not required by the existing Bylaws.
  • Eliminate provisions for life members. We have never appointed a life member and do not expect to adopt this practice.
  • Provide flexibility to change the timing of the Annual Meeting if the Board of Directors determines this to be desirable.
  • Make procedure for resignations of Directors more flexible. Notification to any of the President, Vice President, or Secretary would be allowed, which reflects current practice.
  • Require written terms of reference for standing committees established by the Board beyond those mandated in the Bylaws. This has been our practice for the Development Committee and Community Engagement and Programs Committee.
  • Clarify provisions that allow the Board of Directors to authorize the Executive Director to sign checks and transfer funds on behalf of the Land Trust. With our larger staff and internal controls this authorization makes financial administration more efficient.
  • Strengthen language of Article XIII on prohibition of private gain. Now that we have a conflict of interest policy the Bylaws should make this a more explicit requirement.
  • Add to Article XIV on Dissolution recognition of the possibility of Merger. There have been increasing number of mergers among conservation organizations and this change will provide clarity of how such a situation would be handled.

 

 

Osprey Watch

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Invites Midcoast Citizen Scientists to Join Osprey Watch

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) recently convened a group of enthusiastic birders at the Topsham Public Library to learn about osprey, citizen science, and how to get involved in the Osprey Watch Program.

Emily Anderson, a BTLT volunteer, described how, for many people in Maine, osprey are a familiar sight, though just a few decades ago, that was not the case. Increasingly, though, it is common for people living in or visiting Maine to see osprey circling waterways and soaring, with fish in claw, back to their nests where hungry chicks await. Those lucky enough to have osprey nearby often become very attuned to their habits, even knowing when they are most likely to return north to breed in the spring.

In addition to the natural wonder and beauty of getting to observe osprey, Anderson explained that scientists are also very interested in the osprey and the observations of regular citizens.

“Their near-global distribution, migratory patterns, and place at the top of many aquatic food chains – the great network of who-eats-whom in natural environments – make osprey a key indicator of global environmental health. If there is a problem in their environment, such as a change in climate patterns, a fish shortage, or pollution, the effects will be very visible in the osprey populations.”

Although each of these three threats is often on the minds of those concerned about humanity’s impact on the environment, their direct effects can be challenging to monitor. According to the Audubon Society, osprey are expected to lose 79% of their breeding territory by the year 2080. This is due in part to warming temperatures, which will extend their ideal wintering range northward, while rising sea levels will limit the amount of land where temperatures are suitable for raising their young in the summer. Fish species that osprey rely on could move into deeper, colder water or die out completely, leaving less food to be found. The impact of tiny plastic particles, medications, and other pollutions on aquatic ecosystems is significant, though how osprey will respond to these relatively new pollutants is not yet clear.

Scientists can get a better understanding of how climate change and pollution  affect the way natural systems function by monitoring when the osprey return each year and their overall health. However, due to limitations in funding and time, it can sometimes be challenging for scientists to collect an in-depth, up-to-date, truly global data set.

“Citizen science is becoming an increasingly popular way for scientists to collect large volumes of high-quality data that in the past may not have been easily obtainable. Because citizen science relies on passionate volunteers to collect data, it is easier to gather information on a larger scale.”

If you are passionate about osprey and protecting the environment, or are interested in contributing to a global scientific effort, please consider becoming involved with Osprey Watch, a global community of observers focused on breeding osprey. By watching an osprey nest throughout the breeding season and recording what you see on their website, you can make a meaningful contribution to a project that hopes to monitor the effects of climate change, overfishing, and pollution. Visit  www.osprey-watch.org to learn how to get involved.


This presentation was part of our Spring Birding Extravaganza: a free series of birding events held in partnership with Merrymeeting Audubon, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, and Harpswell Heritage Land Trust.  Read more about this annual series at www.btlt.org/spring-birding-extravaganza-2017

 

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.

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