Archive for category: In the News

BTLT in the News, “FOXCS advocates for local Nordic skiing”

FOXCS advocates for local Nordic skiing

Dylan Sloan, Bowdoin Orient

February 28, 2020

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is so excited to be working with Friends of Cross-Country Skiing (FOXCS) who are focused on improving trails and information about cross-country skiing to our community.

For years, Nordic skiing options around campus have been slim. Students looking for groomed trails could either drive half an hour to Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, where Bowdoin’s varsity team practices, or try their luck at a few groomed snowmobile trails slightly closer to campus. But, in the past few months, Friends of Cross-Country Skiing (FOXCS), a local community-based organization acting as an arm of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, has been advocating for improved recreational Nordic skiing facilities right here in town—and the group has been rapidly gaining support.

Before FOXCS, the recreational Nordic skiing community in the Brunswick-Topsham area was not formalized and was limited in its scope. Although residents have made efforts to improve local conditions, there was no formal movement to petition for more trails in town and build a sense of community amongst local skiers.

“There [were] definitely a lot of people who [had] been thinking about [forming a group] for years,” said Bowdoin Nordic skiing Head Coach Nathan Alsobrook, who has been involved with FOXCS from the beginning. “Now [that] we’re starting to talk about this and coordinate more, [we’re attracting people] who might not have known anything about this previously.”

The inspiration for FOXCS came from the confluence of a number of factors. Earlier this winter, Brunswick’s Mere Creek Golf Club, a popular spot for local skiers, decided to stop allowing use of its property for skiing. Even though there was no real formalized community of recreational skiers, the backlash to Mere Creek’s decision was strong.

“People got really upset, and they wrote to the Town Council,” said Kathy Thorson, a nurse practitioner at the Bowdoin Health Center and an executive committee member of FOXCS. “The town councillors said, ‘We have never, ever had so many people come and talk to us about any issue.’”

The energetic community action in support of cross-country skiing came at the perfect moment for Thorson, who had been thinking about how to start a more formalized skiing community in town.

“We happen to be sort of positioned perfectly to go, ‘Oh, look at all these people that are interested in cross country skiing!’ And they would all say, ‘I wrote to my town councilor, because I’m really upset.’ And then I would be able to write back and say, ‘Hi, there’s this new group!’” said Thorson.

The final phase of the group’s evolution came when it became officially affiliated with the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT), a local nonprofit, at the end of last year.

“[We] fit exactly with their mission,” said Thorson. “So they actually turned to us really early on. We went to the Land Trust and said, ‘What do you think?’ And they said, ‘Oh, you’re perfect. We’ve been wanting to do something like this for so long’ …  and so we became an advisory group.”

To read the whole article, click here.

BTLT in the News, “Topsham receives $31.5K grant for improvements at Cathance River park”

Topsham receives $31.5K grant for improvements at Cathance River park

Alex Lear, The Forecaster

February 19, 2020

We’re so excited for the improvements in the works at Head of Tide Park in Topsham. Alex Lear covered some recent developments that we’d love to share!

The town plans this summer to improve parking and build a hand-carry boat launch at Head of Tide Park, thanks in part to a $31,500 state grant.

The project is estimated to cost about $66,000, which would include labor and materials, design and permitting, and a 10% construction and materials contingency. Town Planner Rod Melanson said he hopes to pare down the cost.

The 12-acre Cathance River park, at 235 Cathance Road, is town-owned and stewarded by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. It has a 15-foot waterfall at the river’s highest tidal reach, hand-carry boat access on either side of the falls, a trailhead that connects to more than 7 miles of trails and picnic and parking areas.

Informational signs explain the history of the site, where a sawmill operated 300 years ago, followed by a feldspar mill.

Improvements to the parking lot, across the street from the park, include moving the entrance so it faces the park entrance. The boat launch would be built down the banking from the lot.

Topsham last year had sought $55,000, which was available through the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands’ Boating Facilities Fund, and had planned a $73,000 project.

To read the whole article, click here.

BTLT in the News, “Brunswick using public input to update bike-ped improvement plan”

Brunswick using public input to update bike-ped improvement plan

Alex Lear, The Forecaster

January 22, 2020

 

Despite a storm that shut down many town operations Jan. 27, about 25 stalwart residents braved the elements to attend the second of four public input sessions geared toward helping the town update its Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvement Plan.

The first meeting, held Jan. 8, covered Brunswick’s downtown, schools, Pleasant Street, Bowdoin College and surrounding neighborhoods. Last week’s meeting delved into rural roads and trails. Brunswick Landing and Cook’s Corner will be the focus of the third gathering at Southern Maine Community College at Brunswick Landing, 29 Sewall St., at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27.

The meetings will culminate at 5 p.m. Feb. 27 with a town-wide meeting at Brunswick Town Hall, 85 Union St., at which Town Planner Jared Woolston plans to discuss the feedback culled about the areas of town that need safety and access improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as parts they already enjoy.

To read the whole article, click here.

Merrymeeting Food Council Farm Labor Roundtable

Maine Farmers Grapple with Labor Shortage

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.

BTLT in the News, “Land Trust announces line up for annual winter gardening workshops in Brunswick”

Land Trust announces line up for annual winter gardening workshops in Brunswick

January 6, 2020

Winter Garden Workshops are here again! This year, the series will be held in partnership with the Curtis Memorial Library on six Sundays through the winter.

BTLT is grateful to Camden National Bank for their sponsorship of this year’s Winter Garden Workshops, making it possible to offer six events throughout the winter.  “We’re very pleased to sponsor the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust’s popular Winter Garden Workshop Series,” said Jim Edwards, Senior Vice President, Treasury Management & Government Banking Sales Adviser at Camden National Bank. “We work closely with the land trust to provide financial services and guidance, and we see first-hand their incredible work to strengthen the community through land conservation and educational programming.”

All talks will take place on Sundays from 1:30-3:30 PM in the Morrell Meeting Room of Curtis Memorial Library.

January 26: Shade and Woodland Gardening with Native Plants

February 2: DIY Medicinals & Salves

February 16: Beekeeping Basics

February 23: Traditional Xeriscaping (Gardening without Watering) in Maine

March 15: Small Space Gardening

March 22: Nut Crops and Unusual Plants

For detailed topic descriptions and presenters, visit www.btlt.org/gardening-workshops.

To become a member and support programs like the Winter Garden Workshops, visit our membership page.

BTLT in the News, “Land Trust 2019: The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Year in Review”

Land Trust 2019: The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Year in Review

By Angela Twitchell and Emily Swan

December 27, 2019

Between working with Maine Coast Heritage Trust to conserve Woodward Point Preserve, trail building on Tarbox Preserve, maintaining trails, building gardens at Perryman Village, and conserving additional properties, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust has had an exciting year.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us to make it possible!

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.

To read the rest of the recent article in the Portland Press Herald, click here.

There’s still time to give in 2019 to support us in 2020! Visit our membership page to learn more.

BTLT in the News, “Merrymeeting Bay groups look to tackle farm labor shortage”

Merrymeeting Bay groups look to tackle farm labor shortage

By Sandy Stott

December 6, 2019

On December 16th, the Merrymeeting Food Council is hosting a roundtable that’s open to the public on Monday, December 16th.

A wide-ranging group of stakeholders from the Merrymeeting Bay area are getting together later this month to discuss ways to address the local farm labor shortage.

The Merrymeeting Food Council and University of Maine Cooperative Extension are hosting a roundtable Monday, Dec. 16, to discuss farm labor models, share resources and build a network focused on short and long-term solutions to a shortage of workers in the industry.

The council, based in Brunswick, represents 14 towns that surround Merrymeeting Bay, including Richmond, Dresden, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Woolwich, Bath, Topsham, Brunswick, West Bath, Arrowsic, Westport, Harpswell, Phippsburg and Georgetown. The group is a collaborative network of farms, fisheries, businesses, nonprofits, government and individuals working together to advance the food system in the region.

Planning partners for the event besides the food council include area farmers and representatives of Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative; Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust; the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; the Maine Department of Labor; Land for Good; Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

To read the rest of the recent article, click here.

To register for the Roundtable or learn more about the Merrymeeting Food Council, click here.

BTLT in the News, “Survey says: Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust forming new strategic plan”

Survey says: Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust forming new strategic plan

By Alex Lear

November 26 2019

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust completed a community survey this fall to gain a deeper understanding of what our members and the greater community think about the work that we do. Alex Lear recently covered the results of the survey in an article in the Portland Press Herald.

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust has many great preserves to offer, but could do a little better publicizing them, preliminary results from a recent survey have determined.

The organization plans to spend the next several months analyzing survey data received this year from 520 community members, and use those findings to develop a new, five-year strategic plan by 2022.

The survey was meant to ascertain community awareness of BTLT’s work and learn how the organization can better serve members and the community, according to Executive Director Angela Twitchell. The questionnaire had multiple choice options, answers from which were more readily available this month, along with opportunities for people to write in comments.

“We really wanted to seek some more meaningful information,” she said Monday, adding that the respondents “gave us some really great feedback.”

The “strong and overwhelmingly positive response” is “a great boost for us,” Twitchell said.

But some areas for improvement were mentioned, too, which will inform BTLT as it convenes an advisory council next March to review the findings and hold an April board retreat to consider mid-term revisions to its current 2017 strategic plan, in view of those results.

To read the rest of the recent article in the Portland Press Herald, click here.