Land Trust staff and volunteers have been working hard in the hot and humid conditions this summer to re-open the trails at Bradley Pond Farm. Conserved by a conservation easement in 1991, the privately owned Bradley Pond Farm was the Land Trust’s first public access easement property and has been home to well used trails for nearly 30 years. The trails were temporarily closed in late 2020 due to the pandemic and trail user issues. Since then, the Land Trust and property landowners have been working together to redesign the trail system to avoid low lying wet areas and places where the trail was located near the private residence and other off limit areas. The redesigned trail system features a new consolidated parking area and three new sections of trail that preserve many aspects of the original trail user experience including walking through the quiet woods, along the farm fields, and looking out over the wetland shoreline to Bradley Pond Farm.
Trail building will continue through the summer with the anticipated re-opening of the trails to the public this fall. Please visit this page for updates on the current status of the trail.
When you give today, you will help:
- establish a level, half-mile accessible trail with a stone dust surface
- make Woodward Point safe and accessible to more people
- expand local outdoor opportunities for people of all abilities
If you haven’t yet joined us as a member, we encourage you to do so. If you are already a member but haven’t yet renewed your membership this fiscal year, we encourage you to do so. And if you find yourself in a position to increase your donation or make an additional gift to us this year, we could use your help now, more than ever.
By Christian Schorn
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?
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!
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.
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!
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.
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,
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!