By the BTLT Stewards
Each field season tends to feel as though it has flown by faster than the last, with more properties to steward, miles of trail to build and maintain, and lurking invasives growing every more quickly. The cure for the never ending list of stewardship tasks is a solid stewardship team with boots on the ground, which BTLT was fortunate to have out on the trails this summer. Thanks to hardworking stewardship staff and volunteers, BTLT had one of our most productive field seasons yet, and it doesn’t end here! Read on to learn about a few of the projects that we have been working hard on this summer.
This 18-acre property located on Gurnet Road in Brunswick is home to a short recreational loop trail through old apple trees and a water access trail that provides direct access to Woodward Cove. The stewardship team lugged materials and installed two bog bridges on the loop trail, and identified numerous populations of native honeysuckle along the way! The access trail, which has been a traditional access path for clammers and wormers for years, was officially protected at the beginning of this year and cleared of numerous encroaching invasive plants, re-routed, widened, and hardened this summer. In the near future, BTLT anticipates installing stone steps to provide its users with a safer transition from the land to the water, and aid in protecting the shoreline and marsh from further erosion.
Cathance River Nature Preserve
Located adjacent to the Highland Green Retirement Community in Topsham, the Cathance River Nature Preserve provides nearly three miles of trails that bring hikers along the Cathance River and connects through other conserved lands all the way to Head of Tide Park. Some of the trails on this 230-acre property are in the process of being rerouted, as a few of them cross over privately owned land. A meadow that locals call the Rabbit Ear, which once hosted an intersection for several trails and is owned by Highland Green, is now being developed, which has provided BTLT staff and volunteers with the opportunity to re-route trails onto Preserve land and provide new pathways for residents and hikers alike to enjoy.
New Trail on Middlesex Road
Located on Middlesex Road in Topsham lies a 121-acre property conserved by BTLT that has frontage on both the Cathance and Muddy Rivers. The property is divided into two major parcels by Middlesex Road, and during the month of July BTLT staff and members of a Regional Field Team of stewards built a new trail on the north side of this incredible property consisting of crushed stone pathways, a bog bridge, and a winding journey along old stone walls, through fern gullies, and out to a peninsular overlooking the Cathance River. Although there is not yet any official signage or trail network, BTLT is excited to soon share this property with the public, which will offer hiking trails in the summer and cross country skiing and snowshoeing along old logging roads during the winter.
Invasive Removal on the Town Landing Trail
The Smart Property, one of BTLT’s newest acquisitions, is a 3-acre floodplain forest on the banks of the Androscoggin River, filled with towering silver maples and green ashes and home to warblers and waterfowl alike. This summer we noticed a mysterious emerald evergreen vine climbing nearly to the tops of some of these trees, and saw that where it touches the forest floor, it transforms into a blanket of dense groundcover growth. We can’t know for certain how or when wintercreeper first appeared at this property, but what we did come to know is that it is invasive. However, unlike the many invasives that we are surrounded with, this plant is different, because this is only the second mapped wild population of wintercreeper in the state, and treating this infestation would that we have a real chance to prevent this plant from creeping into the rest of the state and strangling floodplain forests from Salmon Falls to the St. John. And we weren’t about to let that chance pass us by!
Tom Settlemire Community Garden
Amidst hauling stone, removing invasives, and blazing new trails, the stewardship team took time to help out in the Tom Settlemire Community Garden, where students from Apogee Adventures joined plot holders, local volunteers, Regional Field Team members, and BTLT staff in completing an array of tasks from weeding and laying down mulch to measuring irrigation lines and picking peas. Even if you don’t have a plot at the garden, feel free to come visit anytime and enjoy the sight of plethoras of perennial flowers and myriad varieties of vegetables being grown!