Archive for category: Current Project

Getting to Know Our Neighbors: A Recounting of BTLT’s First Bioblitz at Crystal Spring Farm

By Christian Schorn

Green Soldier Fly. Photo Credit: Richard Joyce

It must have looked odd. In one corner of the Blueberry Fields at Crystal Spring Farm, a group of people crept across the fields, every now and then one leaping or pirouetting with a long net on a pole. In the other, people knelt in a circle around a miniscule patch of grass, their eyes inches away from the stubby flowers. But what looked like modern dance or pagan ritual was actually naturalists at work!

On June 8th, BTLT hosted its first ever Bioblitz at Crystal Spring Farm. The goal of a bioblitz is to compile a list of all the known species in a given area over a defined period of time. Expert, amateur, and aspiring naturalists all get together and spend a morning, day, or week catching butterflies, following beetles, scoping out birds, and identifying wildflowers, recording their observations as they go. Bioblitzes can be useful for a variety of reasons—data collection, public engagement, or just a fun excuse to get outside. But why focus on these little fields?

Black Huckleberry. Photo credit: Richard Joyce

What many people know as the “blueberry fields” at Crystal Spring Farm is really a rare natural community type called a Sandplain Grassland. These prairie-like ecosystems appeared in Maine soon after the glaciers retreated, tracing the outline of the sandy glacial moraines and outwash deltas left behind. They were likely maintained in their open state through burning by the indigenous Abenaki people for blueberry farming and game hunting purposes, but after European settlement, many of these grasslands were developed, converted to agriculture, or invaded by trees as a result of fire suppression. The modern remnants of this natural community in the Northeast are ecologically enigmatic, and ranked as “extremely rare” by the state of Maine.

As stewards of the conserved land at Crystal Spring Farm, we consider it our responsibility to preserve these rare elements of Maine’s natural heritage. In the next several years, we hope to implement prescribed burns in the blueberry fields as a management tool to reduce tree and shrub cover and sustain the natural grasslands. But we won’t be able to tell how effective these treatments are unless we understand exactly how they change the landscape— so we put out a call for enthusiastic naturalists to help us!

Dryland Sedge. Photo credit: Christian Schorn

So on a warm Saturday morning in June, BTLT staff and volunteers met bright and early on the Blueberry Loop for an early morning birding hour. After hearing and witnessing uncommon grassland birds such as eastern meadowlarks and prairie warblers, we divided into two naturalist strike teams—one catching and studying insects, and the other identifying and recording plants. Pictures and identifications were uploaded to iNaturalist, an app designed to collect and share species observations from across the world. If you are an iNaturalist user, you can see our collected observations under the project “BTLT Blueberry Barren Bioblitz. Team Bug had a fruitful morning catching and observing an astounding number of native pollinators and insects such as ichneumon wasps, soldier flies, nomad bees, and pine elfins. Team Plant learned how to identify plants using botanical keys, and wielded their newfound knowledge to identify chokeberries, cinquefoils, and blue-eyed grasses, and discover endangered species under their own noses, including a vast population of the endangered velvet sedge (Carex vestita) and new populations of the rare dryland sedge (Carex siccata)!

We will be holding a second Bioblitz this summer on August 10th (check our Events page for more information closer to the event date!), to continue collecting pre-burn baseline data, and will continue to host bioblitzes in the summers following our burn management, to understand how biodiversity changed in response—like taking pictures both before and after a home renovation.

Pygmy Bee Fly. Photo credit: Richard Joyce

Apart from gaining valuable data on the biodiversity of an area, we came away with a greater and deeper appreciation of what our conservation efforts are protecting here at Crystal Spring Farm. By the end of the day, we found ourselves noticing little things we hadn’t before; a quick-fluttering day emerald moth, iridescent tiger beetles glinting in the sun, waves of velvet sedge rippling gently in the breeze, a sole pink ladyslipper standing erect above a low sea of blueberry bushes. We share our conserved places with these special species, and it’s the least we can do to get to know our neighbors.

Thanks to Richard Joyce for helping to organize this event, and to all the volunteers who showed up to help!

BTLT in the News, “Town agrees to help fund conservation of Woodward Point”


Town agrees to help fund conservation of Woodward Point
January 28
by Hannah LaClaire

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is energized by the Brunswick Town Council’s decision last Thursday to commit to support the Woodward Point Project! This unanimous decision is incredibly exciting as it puts us even closer to reaching our March 31 deadline.

The Times Record recently covered this decision on the front page,

The town council last week unanimously backed a request for $150,000 to help the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust complete the funding for conservation of Woodward Point on the New Meadows River.


Councilor David Watson said his first question when evaluating an agenda item is, “Is this good for Brunswick?” The conservation was decidedly “good for Brunswick,” he said.


Councilor Steve Walker recused himself from the vote at Thursday night’s meeting due to a conflict of interest with his position as a project manager at Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a move which received a “thank you” from chair John Perreault and a quick round of applause from other councilors.


“We’ve seen an incredible outpouring of community support for conserving Woodward Point and opening it to the public,” Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust President Angela Twitchell said in a recent press release. “Funding from the Town would provide a critical lift in our push to the finish line. The project will bring numerous benefits to Town residents and visitors, but only if we can close the funding gap by the end of March.”


In partnership with the Brunswick-Topsham trust, Maine Coast Heritage Trust wants to raise $3.5 million by March 31 to purchase the land and provide for its long-term management as a public preserve.

Click here to read the whole article.

A unanimous vote to support Woodward Point!

Last night, the Brunswick Town Council voted unanimously to contribute $150,000 toward the conservation of Woodward Point using funds previously set aside for water access needs. We are so thankful for this strong support from the Town Council and are eager to advance work on this exciting project in partnership with Maine Coast Heritage Trust.


Woodward Point has over 2 miles of coastline, features extensive open rolling meadowlands, pine and hardwood forest, a freshwater pond, and several good access points to the water. Now, with the help of the Brunswick Town Council, we are one step closer to creating a public access preserve with significant ecological value and excellent outdoor recreation and education opportunities for all ages and interests, ranging from fishing and kayaking to hiking and swimming.  

We have just a few more months to raise the remaining funds by our deadline on March 31. If you haven’t already, we hope you’ll consider making a donation to help get us to the finish line.

For more information or to make a donation,
visit btlt.org/woodward-point-project.

BTLT in the News, The Times Record covers Woodward Point

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust have joined together to conserve Woodward Point and are calling on the town of Brunswick to help preserve the property consisting of 96 acres and 2 miles of shoreline. The Times Record recently published three articles regarding developments in this ongoing project.

See below for previews and click each title to read the full article.

Land trusts to ask Brunswick for $150K in public funds to conserve Woodward Point

January 15, 2019

 The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust are asking the town of Brunswick to help complete the funding for conservation of Woodward Point on the New Meadows River.

The town council will consider the $150,000 request Jan. 24, according to a joint news release from the trusts.

“We’ve seen an incredible outpouring of community support for conserving Woodward Point and opening it to the public,” Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust President Angela Twitchell said in the release. “Funding from the Town would provide a critical lift in our push to the finish line. The project will bring numerous benefits to Town residents and visitors, but only if we can close the funding gap by the end of March.”

Guest column: Time for Brunswick to lend a hand to conserve Woodward Point

I made a fabulous discovery a few weeks ago. On a bright and icy cold day, I bundled up and headed over to Woodward Point in east Brunswick, eager to see for myself what Angela Twitchell, executive director of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, had told me was “an amazing place that almost no one knows about.” She was right. The view from the parking area was stunning, and it only got better on my hour-long exploration. Guided by Keith Fletcher from Maine Coast Heritage Trust, I crossed rolling hayfields, passed a stream and a large freshwater pond, poked around in the pine and hardwood forests, and stood in awe at the shimmering shoreline. There weren’t many birds to see on that cold day, but I had a lovely look at a porcupine sequestered high in a White Pine.  

For the past two years, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) and Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) have been working in partnership to preserve 89 acres on Woodward Point. With two peninsulas and more than 2 miles of shoreline on the New Meadows River, the property is one of the last remaining undeveloped waterfront parcels of its size in southern Maine. It’s also is one of the last large coastal parcels available to conserve in Brunswick. Woodward Point will be a public preserve, available for outdoor recreation, water access, and education. It will also protect an ecologically significant area. Of particular note are its shellfish flats, which are among the most productive in the state.  

Your Land: January at Woodward Point

It’s about promise. 

On Jan. 24, Brunswick’s Town Council will consider making the town a partner in the Woodward Point Project. That project nears both goal and deadline for raising the $3.5 million needed to purchase nearly 90 acres of shoreline that encompasses much of a longtime, saltwater cattle farm along the New Meadows River. The farm’s open fields, mixed habitat, good condition and more than two miles of shoreline are unparalleled in southern Maine. 

And thanks to the cooperative work of Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Brunswick Topsham Land Trust and their many supporters, we, the public, are within sniffing distance of forever access to this special land. 

If these two partners in preservation can raise the 300,000 remaining dollars needed by April 1st, they will be able to complete the purchase of Woodward Point and begin the work of imagining its public future. Which, by land and from the sea, will include you. 

BTLT in the News, “Land trusts want Brunswick to chip in $150K for Woodward Point”

Land trusts want Brunswick to chip in $150K for Woodward Point

January 16, 2019

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust have joined together to conserve Woodward Point and are calling on the town of Brunswick to help preserve the property consisting of 96 acres and 2 miles of shoreline.

Two conservation trusts want the town to contribute $150,000 to help preserve 96 acres at Woodward Point.

Their goal is to raise $3.5 million by the end of March. The conservation effort launched last summer still needs $340,000, the organizations said in a press release.

The Town Council is scheduled to take up the request from the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust at its Jan. 24 meeting.

Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Program agreed to provide $570,000 to preserve the property. The state’s Land for Maine’s Future program awarded $400,000 for the acquisition, and 75 individuals have made donations.

Woodward Point, near Cook’s Corner, includes more than 2 miles of shore frontage on the New Meadows River and Woodward Cove, and would offer the public opportunities to walk, swim, fish, or paddle.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

BTLT in the News, “Land’s End”

“Land’s End”

November 2018


BTLT and MCHT are teaming up to conserve Woodward Point, a beautiful property over 80 acres large with over two miles of shoreline along two peninsulas on the New Meadows River in Brunswick. Recently, Down East magazine ran a story on the project.

With its sprawling pastures, spectacular views of the New Meadows River, and meandering forests at the water’s edge, Woodward Point’s defining quality is its unspoiled beauty. Bobolinks flock in the pasture. Mussels grow in a freshwater pond. Two miles of shoreline host great blue herons, oysters, and some of the most productive clamflats in Maine.

Jaki Ellis and Andy Cook fell in love with Woodward Point 40 years ago and made their fondest memories there. They raised cattle on the site’s more than 80 acres. Their kids learned to love the woods. In summer, they sailed from the dock at their back door, and in winter, they cross-country skied in the meadow.

All the while, they’ve watched the surrounding waterfront become private estates. Now, they’re retired and ready to move — but not ready to see the land they love meet the same fate. “We want to preserve the landscape,” Ellis says. “We don’t want to see it divided up and developed.”

The couple reached out to Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust in the hopes the organizations could protect their treasured land and ensure the community can enjoy it forever. The two land trusts have an option to purchase the property and are working to raise $3.5 million by March 2019 in order to make the acquisition and manage the property as a public preserve.

To read the rest, click here!

Mountain Bike Trails Open at Neptune Woods

Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA), Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT), and the Six Rivers chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association (6R-NEMBA) are excited to announce the creation of four miles of mountain bike trails on newly conserved property at Brunswick Landing, the former Naval Air Station Brunswick (NASB).

Neptune Woods is a 64-acre parcel that was deeded to MRRA by the Navy and is home to a section of the former Navy Fit trail. Because of its proximity to the Recreation Center and the existing trails, this parcel had been identified by several mountain bike enthusiasts in the Brunswick community as a good location for beginner-friendly mountain bike trails. The region has a lack of beginner trails, and with a need for trails to support the highly successful new Youth Mountain Bike Program being offered by Brunswick Rec Department, the project seemed like a great opportunity. Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust worked closely with community partners to develop the most effective way to proceed.

MRRA generously donated the land to BTLT to hold for recreation and conservation in perpetuity, while the fledgling 6R-NEMBA designed and built the trails. Mid Coast Hospital’s Access Health group provided funding for materials needed to build bridges, while dozens of community members (as young as 5 years old) volunteered to build the trials.

“We’re delighted to have been able to help the land trust and support more recreational activities at Brunswick Landing and in the Midcoast region,” MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque said. “These trails will provide our business workforce and residents with a great opportunity to exercise and enjoy this beautiful property.”

On October 21, more than 200 community members came out to celebrate the new trails. Center Street Cycles partnered with Specialized Bikes to bring over a dozen brand new mountain bikes for attendees to try – and many did, including a number of older visitors that had never tried mountain biking before.

Nikkilee (Lee) Cataldo, Director of Programs at the Land Trust and secretary of the 6R-NEMBA Board, welcomed visitors on a chilly Sunday morning. “The trails at Neptune Woods are just a first step in what we hope is a much larger inter-connected trail system that allows our community to have fun, stay healthy, and enjoy the outdoors,” Cataldo said.

This was an idea the crowd seemed to appreciate. Lawrence Kovaks, president of the 6R-NEMBA board noted the value of partnerships like the ones that created the trails at Neptune – no one of the groups could have done it alone, but it was clear from the crowd that working together met a community need.

The Land Trust is very excited to offer its first mountain bike trails on BTLT lands, and very much look forward to working more with these partners and others to further develop mixed-use trails and trail corridors to support our community’s wellness!

To support the needs of this new property, BTLT is devoting Giving Tuesday to Neptune Woods. If you enjoy these trails and want to support their maintenance and creation of more like them, please visit www.btlt.org/giving-tuesday-neptune.

A huge thank you to everyone involved!

Woodward Cove Trail Opens Up

By Connor Rockett

A little over two weeks ago, the land stewards from BTLT and Kennebec Estuary Land Trust completed a new trail for public use at the Woodward Cove property, located on Gurnet Road in Brunswick. After multiple scouting visits and a surprise discovery of some (very large) poison ivy patches, we cut a winding, lollipop-shaped route just under a mile long. A relatively short trail featuring gentle hills, an upturned rootmass, and apple trees, it is a wonderful spot to spend a few moments in peaceful reflection or to stretch the legs and get some fresh air after a long day.  All of us at the Land Trust are glad to see this trail open to the community and we hope you will enjoy it!

As I mentioned earlier, the unexpected appearance of poison ivy posed some problems. After having scouted and flagged an initial route, Margaret and I returned a week before the planned start of trail cutting only to find that an expansive patch had sprung up. It was unclear whether we would be able to build the trail. In what ended up being a great example of the creative problem solving involved in stewardship work, we devised a new route that included the interesting features of the property, all while avoiding sensitive wetland areas and the poison ivy.

The problem solving process was simple but effective: people observing, thinking, and communicating to find a better route. All that it entailed was 5 of us working on the ground, weighing options, relying on past experiences, and envisioning alternatives. That collaborative creativity allowed us to avoid the poison ivy, without having to resort to using costly and disruptive herbicides. It was place-based problem solving for community wellness in action (wooh!). So that being said, the next time you’re out on the Woodward Cove trail, hopefully you’ll be reminded of just how much can be accomplished by a small group of ordinary people with a common goal in mind!

BTLT in the News, “Trusts closer to conserving Woodward Point in Brunswick”

Trusts closer to conserving Woodward Point in Brunswick

April 25, 2018

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust was featured in The Forecaster recently, regarding the current project to preserve land at Woodward Point.

Two land trusts have raised nearly half the funds needed to preserve land at Woodward Point.

On April 16, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Coast Wetlands Conservation Program would provide $570,000 to preserve 96 acres at the site. The conservation effort was launched last summer by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust in collaboration with the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust.

So far, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust have raised $1.62 million of the $3.5 million necessary to buy and conserve the property. Their deadline is April 1, 2019.

The land has 10,000 feet of shoreline, open fields and trail systems, with the capacity to support outdoor activities such as hiking, hunting and picnicking. The area also cradles “two commercially significant shellfish beds,” according to a press release from Pingree’s office.

Working with the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust applied for a $1 million grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in June 2017.

“We ranked well, but it was very competitive,” Keith Fletcher, Maine Coast Heritage Trust program manager assigned to the project, said. “They gave us a partial award, and of course we are very happy with this result; it’s essential to completing this project.”

To read the complete article, click here.