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 seventh 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 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, we will offer Maine Bird Atlas training, a movie screening, bird walks throughout the area, and more! 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.
List of Events Coming Soon!
Information for Harpwell Heritage Land Trust and Kennebec Estuary Land Trust events may be found here:
Jeffrey B. Roth, Maine Correspondent,
January 17, 2020
The Merrymeeting Food Council recently held a roundtable event focused on the farm labor shortage in Maine. The Food Council is a collaborative network of farms, fisheries, businesses, nonprofits, government, and individuals working together to advance the food system in the 14 towns surrounding Merrymeeting Bay.
BOWDOINHAM, Maine — Finding reliable, hard-working workers continues to be a major challenge for Maine farmers.
In November, the Maine unemployment rate was 2.8%, according to the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Information, down from 3.5% for November 2018. Low unemployment, combined with stricter federal H-2A visa federal regulations imposed by the Trump administration on hiring foreign workers, an aging resident population and other factors, contribute to the difficulty of finding seasonal farm workers, Nikkilee Cataldo of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, said at the Merrymeeting Food Council Farm Labor Roundtable, held in Bowdoinham.
A collaborative network of farms, fisheries, businesses, government, nonprofit organizations and individuals, the organization provides resources that support the production and sale of local produce and fish, in addition to promoting community wellness, Cataldo told the audience of about 100 area farmers, mostly from 14 towns surrounding the Merrymeeting Bay-area. The evening program featured presentations about labor pools, organizing labor and worker cooperatives, effective labor management tools and solicited comments and ideas from the audience.
To read more about the Roundtable, click here.
At this wonderful time of giving and thanks, we want to express our deep gratitude to the many hundreds of loyal supporters who made the work of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) possible this year.
BTLT is a member-driven community organization that works collaboratively with municipalities and partner organizations to conserve the remarkable natural resources of Brunswick, Topsham, and Bowdoin. Just as important as conserving these natural places is connecting the people of our region to them. We made great strides in 2019 in both of these areas.
BTLT’s star achievement of 2019 was our collaboration with the Maine Coast Heritage Trust to conserve Woodward Point, nearly 90 acres of land with two miles of shorefront on Woodward Cove and the New Meadow River in Brunswick. This spectacular property was opened to the public in September and in just a few months has become an indispensable entrée to the waterfront for the people of our area, where public access to the coast is so limited.
BTLT also created brand-new trails on the Tarbox Preserve in Topsham. This beautiful wooded 124-acre property has frontage on both the Cathance and the Muddy Rivers. Last July our staff and regional field team cleared old logging roads, hauled stone, and removed roots and boulders to create a trail on the north side of the property that winds along stone walls, through fern gullies, and past towering pines to a peninsula overlooking the Cathance River. We encourage you to get out on this beautiful new trail in all seasons of the year.
BTLT completed two other significant conservation projects in Topsham in 2019: the Robert Williams Preserve, totaling 73 acres with 5,600’ of river frontage on the tidal portion of the Cathance River; and the 53-acre Schoodic Forestry parcel, with more than two miles of frontage on the Androscoggin River in a part of town without much conserved land. In addition to protecting wetlands and wildlife habitat, it will allow for public access to the river for hiking, fishing, and enjoying nature.
The theme of the Land Trust’s community outreach this year has been “Honoring Our Heritage, Building Our Future.” We honored our heritage in grand style with a year-long celebration of BTLT’s signature property Crystal Spring Farm in Brunswick, complete with nature and history walks, citizen science, and a festival of music and food at the farm in September. 2019 marked 25 years since we undertook conservation of the farm and 20 years since we opened our award-winning farmers’ market. We are proud of all the work BTLT does to support local agriculture, and the market is the centerpiece of these efforts, providing a vibrant market to 39 local farmers, bakers, cheesemakers and others producers. In the “Building our Future” category, we continued to build robust partnerships with local schools and some of our most meaningful days this year were spent with dozens of school children getting their hands dirty and learning where local food comes from at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden.
Another major initiative in 2019 was the member and community survey BTLT conducted last summer. Over 520 people responded to the survey with great feedback on what we are doing right and where we can improve. We expect to respond to some of the survey results immediately, with plans for things like better signage and more guided walks at BTLT properties. Other survey findings will be incorporated more gradually through the upcoming review of our five-year strategic plan, helping us to ensure that as an organization we are meeting our members’ expectations and responding to identified community needs.
As we celebrate our many achievements in 2019, we are also aware that every conservation success today entails future responsibility. When the Land Trust conserves a property, it also takes on a commitment – in perpetuity – for responsible stewardship of the land. A firm financial footing is essential to ensure we are able to meet that responsibility. In 2019, BTLT increased the size of its stewardship endowment to $700,000, making significant progress toward our five-year goal of $2 million. We also created the BTLT Legacy Circle to recognize and thank those who include BTLT in their estate plans. We are proud to report that 18 individuals and families have already made such a commitment. Legacy gifts are the cornerstone of BTLT’s long-term sustainability and ensure that the places we conserve today will remain well taken care of for generations to come.
We thank all of our members and supporters for making the successes of 2019 possible. We look forward to 2020 and the possibilities that await us to conserve special places and connect the people of our region to them. Happy New Year!
If you’d like to help support BTLT in 2020, click here.
Angela Twitchell and Emily Swan are the executive director and president, respectively, of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust.