Archive for category: Blog

It’s Hunting Season!

Each year, BTLT staff and volunteers post distinctly orange temporary signage across properties that BTLT owns and easement properties with public trail access where hunting is allowed. While many locals are avid hunters, others are not, and that can leave trail users with many questions about what the dos and don’ts of trail use are during hunting season. Below we have compiled information that addresses commonly asked questions to help illuminate how hunting is managed on BTLT owned and managed properties, and what you can do to safely enjoy your visit to a local trail while helping support the long standing tradition of responsible hunting in Maine. 

Why does BTLT allow hunting? 

BTLT is dedicated to the protection of the land, water, and wildlife of the Brunswick-Topsham area. We are also committed to providing access to these public lands for low-impact and traditional recreation including hunting, where appropriate. 

Hunting is not only an important cultural tradition in Maine that allows for folks to provide sustenance for their families and communities, but is also an important management tool to help control overpopulation of deer. Overpopulation can lead to the outbreak of disease, spreading of ticks, and can also have serious impacts on the environment. In agricultural areas, deer can wipe out entire crops and destroy a farmer’s livelihood overnight. Having a balanced ecosystem is important for plants, animals, and humans. Hunting can help keep that in check when deer populations skyrocket. 

How do you determine where hunting is allowed? 

We assess whether or not to allow hunting on the properties that BTLT owns based on the nature of public access, grant funder restrictions, and the location of abutting residences. Hunting is not legally allowed within 300 feet of a residence and we ask that hunters maintain a good distance from any public trailswhich leaves a number of BTLT properties with an extremely limited area where hunting can take place after applying that buffer, making them not suitable for hunting. Please visit our website in 2021 to see a full list of the BTLTowned properties where we allow hunting by permission. 

If I’m interested in hunting on BTLT owned land, how do I get permission?

BTLT requires that all interested hunters speak on the phone or come in to meet with staff before receiving permission to review property boundaries, the location of any trails, and BTLT’s hunting rules listed below. Please note that BTLT gives permission before hunting season begins, so please plan accordingly! Interested hunters can call the office at 729-7694 or email margaret@btlt.org 

For hunting at Crystal Spring Farm, BTLT starts giving permission at the beginning of August, one month before expanded archery season begins in September. Permission for Crystal Spring Farm is given on a first come, first serve basis until we meet our cap of hunters for the season and/or hunting season begins.  

Hunters are expected to follow all state laws and local ordinances when hunting on BTLT properties, as well as the following rules: 

  • Hunting is allowed with permission only; 
  • Tree stands must be removed daily, except at Crystal Spring Farm; 
  • Hunters must remove all parts of deer bagged on BTLT properties; 
  • Tree stands should be marked with the owner’s name as required by law ; 
  • Hunters are expected to notify the BTLT office if they see anything we should know about; 
  • Hunters should know the location of trails, patterns of use, property boundaries, and nearby residences; 
  • Hunters should cross onto adjacent properties only if they have that landowner’s permission. 

 

What’s the difference when it comes to hunting on an easement property? 

A number of public trails that BTLT manages and maintains are located on privately owned, easement properties. The public is only allowed on the designated trails on these properties, and it is at the discretion of the landowner, or in some cases the easement itself, whether or not hunting is allowed. On these properties, BTLT cannot give hunters permission, but temporary signage will be posted at the trailhead indicating to visitors whether or not hunting is allowed on the property. The public access easement properties where hunting is currently allowed are: 

  • Chase Reserve (Privately owned) 
  • Bradley Pond Farm (Privately owned) 
  • Maquoit Bay Conservation Land (Town owned) 
  • Woodward Point (Partnership Project, owned by Maine Coast Heritage Trust) 

Please respect private landowners and do not approach their residences to ask for permission. 

Are all BTLT properties posted? 

No, currently only Crystal Spring Farm is posted along Pleasant Hill Road to alert hunters and trail users alike that hunting takes place on the property and is by permission only. Given BTLT’s limited staff and resources, we do not post our properties and to date have not had any incidents that pose a safety risk or negatively impact the conservation values of the property. However, should such incidents occur, we would work with the local game warden to post properties as needed.  

Is it safe to be out on the trails at a property where hunting is allowed? 

Yes, however preparation is key to help ensure accidents don’t happen. Come prepared wearing blaze orange, stay on the trail, and keep your dog on a leash.  

If you are on a public access property owned by BTLT, the only hunting taking place will be bow hunting, one of the oldest methods of hunting, practiced for thousands of years and into present day on these lands by the local Wabanaki people. This form of hunting uses archery rather than a firearm, and requires great skill, aim, and carefully placed delivery from a close distance. By requiring permission to hunt on any BTLT owned property, BTLT is able to limit the amount of hunters per property to ensure it is not only safe for users, but not overhunted and therefore worth the effort and time of hunters.  

I own a dog, should I keep my dog at home during hunting season? 

Dogs are required to be leashed at all times on all BTLT trails, and this is especially important during hunting season, because: 

  • You could be fined up to $500 if your dog is found chasing or pursuing a moose, deer, or wild turkey at any time (MRS §12404  PL 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF) 
  • A game warden can kill a dog outside the immediate care of its owner or keeper if your dog is found chasing, killing, wounding or pursuing a moose or deer at any time (MRS §12404  PL 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF); PL 2003, c. 655, Pt B §243 (AMD), PL 2003, c 655, Pt B, §422 (AFF) 

So remember to leash your dog, it’s required on all BTLT trails and it could have serious consequences during hunting season! 

 

If I’m out on a BTLT trail and see a hunter clearly not following the law, or an injured deer, or any other hunting related issue that is of concern, what should I do? 

If the concern is serious and requires immediate attention, please contact a Maine Game Warden, available 24 hours a day, at 1-800-452-4664. If it is an issue not requiring immediate assistance, please either call the BTLT office at 729-7694 or email margaret@btlt.org. 

 

Resources 

You can visit the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at https://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting-trapping/hunting-laws/deer-hunting.html to learn more about hunting laws and the dates of hunting season this year. 

Maine Game Wardens can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-800-452-4664. 

Maine Revised Statues as they relate to wildlife causing damage or nuisance https://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/12/title12sec12404.html 

Find what Widlife Management District you live in to learn more about the local ordinances and who your local Game Warden is https://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting-trapping/hunting-laws/wildlife-management-districts/wmd-map.html 

Still have questions about hunting on BTLT lands? Call 729-7694 or email margaret@btlt.org. 

Farewell, Jacqui!

Jacqui at Market Booth at CSF

 

Jacqui Koopman established herself as part of the team at BTLT as a Saturday Farmers’ Market volunteer, assisting her daughter, Jane, who was Market Coordinator at the time. 

It was clear right away that Jacqui had an eye for how the market ran and a dedication to making community and local food synonymous on the market green. Jacqui took over as Market Manager in 2013 and helped shape the Market into what it is today.  

Jacqui has brought a wonderful sense of cohesion to the Market. She has worked intentionally to create a market with a festive atmosphere and to curate vendors to ensure a wide variety of produce, value-added products, dairy, meat, and seafoods. Her curation of the vendor slate had brought a breadth and balance to the Market’s offerings that have earned it statewide renown.  

Throughout her years at the market, Jacqui has formed friendships with parking staff, market vendors, and customers, whom she deeply cherishes. The friendships she has made extend to her coworkers, resulting in many hours of laughter, conversation, consumption of delicious food, and soul-soothing moments.    

Thank you, Jacqui, for your friendship and your dedication to celebrating, supporting and increasing access to local food! 

BTLT in the News, “Your Land: Hunting for home”

Your Land: Hunting for home

By Sandy Scott, November 6th, 2020

 

Consider your eyes: set just above your nose, less than two inches apart, designed to zero in on what’s before you. There she is, nostrils working, tail twitching, taking one cautious step at a time, eyes wide to her head’s sides, designed to know what’s all around.

You and this deer are complements of aimed and spread awareness: predator and prey. You are hunting, and your prey is not the slow, shrink-wrapped meat of a supermarket aisle.

Whether we choose to hunt or not, we are of this relationship; it is part of our design. We are, of course, descendants of eons of hunter-gatherers, who found both a living and a place in a natural world tucked full of such relationships. Our social organization turned us into apex predators, and as we grew numerous, we chased other predators (see wolves or lions, e.g.) away.

During hunting season, common wisdom holds that hunters are filling an old role. Less common is an understanding of how vital hunting is to our valued, conserved, and agricultural lands.

In my last column, I wrote of tagging along with a local bowhunter as he looks for deer. To deepen my understanding of the role of hunting in our eco-system, I turned to a number of familiar and new writers, among them Leopold, Thoreau, Dillard. What’s grown in me, as a result, is an appreciation for the ways hunters know and value the land they walk.

My October example came from nearby Crystal Spring Farm, a more than 300-acre mix of farm and forest owned by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and farmed on over 100 of those acres by Seth Kroeck and Maura Bannon’s family.

Click here to read the rest of the article!

 

Crystal Spring Farm Arbor

If you’ve traveled past Crystal Spring Farm any time in the last few weeks, you will have noticed an imposing new structure on the Farmers’ Market green – a brand-new arbor built of sturdy cedar to withstand many seasons of the same wind and weather that eventually did in the previous arbor. The new arbor is the work of BTLT member Rip Swan, who volunteered his labor and who, along with his mother, donated most of the materials to build the arbor.  He was ably assisted by BTLT summer intern Dylan Sloan, who worked with Rip on a couple of the hottest days of the summer to dig holes and frame up the structure. Rip drafted his brother Harry Swan to put the finishing touches on the arbor’s “roof.”

The market green was a lonely place in 2020, with the market relocated first to the Brunswick High School parking lot and in September to the Flight Deck parking lot at Brunswick Landing. The relocation was necessary to enable us to spread the market out to ensure the safety of vendors and shoppers alike, and we are deeply grateful to both BHS and Flight Deck for making it possible. 

Volunteer Rip Swan and market manager Jacqui Koopman planning new arbor.

October 31 was the last day of the 2020 market season.  Fortunately the day, which started with temperatures in the low 20s, eventually warmed to a (relatively) balmy and sunny 43.  It was the last day on the job for Jacqui Koopman, who is retiring after 7 years of able and committed leadership.  We sadly bid farewell both to Jacqui and, for now, to you, our loyal customers.  We hope to be able to greet you at Crystal Spring Farm again next May and look forward to seeing you step through this magnificent new arbor onto our beloved market green.

Release of Maine Rail-Trail Plan 2020-2030

BTLT is so proud to have been a partner in this important effort to connect Maine’s communities with multi-use recreational corridors.

The Maine Trails Coalition (MTC) has released a plan for a statewide network of multi-use rail trails. Read the press release below:

 

Dear Community Members:

The Maine Trails Coalition (MTC) today released for public discussion its preliminary vision for a statewide network of multi-use rail trails. While a work in progress, Maine Rail-Trail Plan 2020-2030 calls for the construction of thirteen specific rail-trail projects over the next decade, and at least five prospective projects for development over the following decade. Each of these projects connects with and extends existing multi-use trails and creates regional connections between communities across the state.

Also included in the Maine Rail-Trail Plan are the results of a public poll, commissioned last year by the Maine Trails Coalition, indicating that 86 percent of Mainers favor creating recreational trails on unused rail corridors, if the trails could be converted back to railroad use if needed. This high level of support was consistent across north (88%), south (85%), central (84%), and coastal (86%) regions; and among Democrats (87%), Republicans (83%), and Independents (88%).

With the elevated importance of emission-free transportation alternatives, socially distanced outdoor recreation, and public health more generally, the need for trails, including long-distance interconnected regional trails, has heightened urgency.

In addition to their public health, environmental, and community benefits, regional trail systems provide a multifold return on investment in the form of local economic impact and tourism. They perfectly complement Maine’s established reputation for superlative outdoor recreation.

The Maine Rail-Trail Plan also calls for the continuing preservation and maintenance of a separate and active rail corridor that can be used to extend future Amtrak, commuter train, and/or freight service from Boston through Maine’s largest population centers. The plan illustrates that the most important inter-urban corridors do not require a choice between trains and trails; that there are alternate routes that allow for both. Multi-use trails and transit are complementary parts of a complete transportation network.

This initial release of Maine Rail-Trail Plan 2020-2030 is a first step in envisioning the possibilities for a statewide network of multi-use trails that can connect residents to community assets, open space, employment, transit, and other destinations including schools and health care facilities. This vision also seeks to capitalize on Maine’s brand as an outdoor recreation destination by creating opportunities for adventure tourism that attracts visitors to rural and urban Main Streets and businesses.

It is a living document that the Maine Trails Coalition plans to refine over time in consultation with local communities, regional authorities, state agencies, and the many interest groups concerned with rails and trails throughout Maine.

We have attached a copy of Maine Rail-Trail Plan 2020-2030 for your review. We would appreciate your thoughts and recommendations on the plan and would welcome your support for the vision it describes.

Sincerely,

Ben Barrett

To follow along and read more, visit MTC HERE.

 

BTLT in the News, “Grant helps Crystal Spring Farm switch business model, zeroes in on carrots, blueberries”

BY HANNAH LACLAIRETIMES RECORD

Seth Kroeck, manager of Crystal Spring Farm

The growing season for carrots and blueberries might be over, as evidenced by the snowflakes falling on farmer Seth Kroeck’s shoulders Wednesday morning, but there’s still plenty of work ahead for the owners of Crystal Spring Farm as they move forward with plans to break into the wholesale business this fall and winter.

Kroeck and Maura Bannon, managers of Brunswick’s Crystal Spring Farm, are recipients of a $250,000 USDA Value Added Producer grant that, when matched, will help the farm process, market and distribute organic carrots and blueberry products to local retailers.

The 320-acre organic farm is owned by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. Seth Kroeck has a 50-year lease on 115 acres of agricultural land and farm buildings along with a separate lease from a local family for 72 acres of wild blueberries. Kroeck and Bannon have been growing organic carrots since 2004 and organic blueberries since 2014.

Over the past decade, Crystal Spring became the largest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm in Maine, according to a news release.  In 2018, they grew over 160 varieties of vegetables and served over 600 members from the Midcoast to Portland.

 

To read the rest of the article click HERE

 

The Navy Posts Their Brunswick Landing Properties

Many of you may have seen a host of new “No Trespassing, Federal Property” signs at Brunswick Landing. This includes trails that lead off of BTLT’s Neptune Woods property. These signs now clearly mark what has been, and continues to be, Navy owned land.

The US Navy is currently enforcing their no trespassing regulations through signage and video monitoring because the land is undergoing further environmental study and remediation work. Trespassing on federal land is a federal crime and the Navy can pursue appropriate legal actions against violators, THEY ARE SENDING PHOTOS OF TRESPASSERS TO THE BRUNSWICK POLICE.

Please only use the trails that you know are publicly accessible – including BTLT’s Neptune Woods, and the Town of Brunswick’s Kate Furbish Preserve. Stay on trails that are included on the trail maps to be sure you are staying on publicly accessible land.

BTLT is working diligently to help assure that the land designated for use as recreation lands in the BNAS Redevelopment Plan is ultimately both accessible and safe for the community. We hope that the recreation lands on the east side of the Landing are appropriately remediated and turned over by the US Navy soon, and we will continue to actively advocate for public access on these lands and for appropriate remediation to assure that those lands are safe for the community and the natural systems that are resident on the land.

For questions or concerns about Navy lands, you can contact local Navy officials at #207-406-2290