Doug Bennett, BTLT board member, recently wrote an Op-Ed featured in the The Times Record on May 29 regarding the long and rewarding conservation effort for Head of Tide Park.
As we enjoy the park, it is worth noting how this park came to be. Who made it happen and how? There are lessons for the future in the Head of Tide story.
It wasn’t simply the doing of the town government, though they played a key role. It wasn’t simply the work of private individuals, though they played a key role. And it wasn’t simply the result of community organizations, though they, too, played a key role. It was the efforts of all these and many people, working together, that made Head of Tide possible.
Not so long ago, the Head of Tide was a decaying collection of buildings, an eyesore, really. Once the site became available, it might well have become a private development, perhaps a collection of townhouses.
Curious how this story ends and what Head of Tide Park has to offer today? Click here.
May 30, 2018
After over a decade of hard work, Head of Tide Park is now permanently conserved and offers a beautiful waterfall, picnicking areas, trails, and water access. Alex Lear of The Forecaster met up with Angela Twitchell, BTLT Executive Director, to learn more about the Park.
Twelve years of planning, funding and development along the Cathance River will culminate Saturday, June 2, with the grand opening of Head of Tide Park.
The 12-acre property at 235 Cathance Road, owned by the town and stewarded by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, has much to offer the nature enthusiast.
There’s the 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, along with picnic and parking areas. Informational signs cover the rich history of the site, where a sawmill operated 300 years ago, followed by a feldspar mill.
The park’s story began with an ending.
Elizabeth Kelso, who died in 2005, owned the apartments that sat where the mill had once operated. Through a 2006 bequest, a one-third interest in the property went to the Cathance River Education Alliance, which motivated CREA to seek conservation of the entire property.
Agreeing to serve as the project’s fiscal agent, the BTLT board had Angela Twitchell, the land trust’s executive director, coordinate conservation and fundraising activities. BTLT bought the abutting 1.5-acre Cutler property in 2010, and donated it to the town, according to the grand opening’s press release.
Topsham Development used its enterprise fund to buy the entire property in 2009, as well as the 7-acre Direnzo parcel – now used for parking and soon for hand-carry boat access – across the street in 2014. TDI served as interim owner in both cases until the town and BTLT could raise the funds to purchase all the pieces of the 12-acre parcel, a process completed this March.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Twitchell said with a smile May 24 while looking around the site. After 12 years, “we’ve got the whole vision completed.”
Click here for the full article.
April 26, 2018
Local land trusts, including the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, are featured in the Coastal Journal for some exciting spring happenings. Read on to see how you can get involved this season!
There is no shortage of areas to explore along the Midcoast this spring, but local land trusts offer more than just trails. Each organization has its own focus and schedule of events coming up. Some are out on the trails while others are workshops focused on preparations for spring, like how to start your garden.
You may know the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust from its role in the outdoor farmers market at Crystal Springs Farm in the summer and on the town green in the spring and fall. I am eagerly waiting for the first spring market day on May 5.
Following on the gardening theme, BTLT also puts on the impressive Taking Root Plant Sale on May 26, where you can simultaneously provision your garden with lovely native plants and support the land trust’s efforts.
And, if you don’t have your own garden to tend, but love digging in the dirt, one of the many volunteer opportunities possible with BTLT is to help at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden. The garden is used for educational programs and also provides produce for local food banks, in addition to having private plots for those interested in having their own patch. You can find out more at www.btlt.org/volunteer.
To read the complete article, click here.
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.
February 9, 2018
Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is featured in the Portland Press Herald today! Angela Twitchell, BTLT Executive Director, and Nick Ullo, Boothbay Region Land Trust Executive Director, wrote this informative article on the many benefits of Land Trusts in Maine.
“The Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee has been studying Maine land trusts since October. As leaders of the Maine Land Trust Network, we welcome the study and the chance to highlight the many ways we make Maine “the way life should be.”
Last summer, the Maine Land Trust Network surveyed our members and published the findings in a report titled “Land Trusts Work for Maine.” This report highlights the most important benefits that land trusts contribute to our local communities and to the state. For example, hikers can explore more than 1,250 miles of trails that wind through land trust properties in every corner of Maine. These range from family-friendly nature paths in communities like Freeport, to more challenging routes ending atop bald summits in rural corners of Oxford County, and everything in between. Motorized recreational enthusiasts also benefit from Maine’s statewide collection of land trust conserved lands, which are home to over 345 miles of ATV trails and 570 miles of snowmobile trails.”
To read more of the article, click here.
We are wrapping up our 2017 canoeing columns with the theme of getting out there one last time before the snow flies, and exploring someplace close to home. In our case that means an outing on the nearby Androscoggin River in Brunswick. The big windstorm of a few weeks ago has created extra yard work for many of us, so getting away for a daylong outing is not as likely right now. A few hours on the water in a pretty setting provides a much-needed therapeutic interlude.
We often bike on the 2.6-mile Androscoggin River Bike Path and have talked about canoeing along that same stretch of the river. November is a great time to be on the water – crisp blue skies and that wonderful invigorating glow on the face. We finally made it happen. Launching at the Brunswick Public Boat Launch on Water Street we headed down river with the current, planning an easy hour down, and a little extra time for the return by paddling tight along the shoreline to mitigate the current.
A series of islands fills the bend in the river as it starts to turn north and head away from Route 1. Fifty-eight-acre Cow Island, managed by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, provides a secluded barrier from the highway traffic sounds. We were surprised how sandy the bottom was, and enjoyed the rippled designs of the sand only inches under our canoe. A couple of kingfishers leapfrogged ahead of us, chattering away. Mallards drifted along the shoreline. A heron gracefully lifted up from the brown marsh grasses ahead of us.
Cow Island features a dense grove of silver maples. With the leaves off the trees their shadowed trunks looked like gangly pipe cleaner figures all dancing together. Incidentally, the Androscoggin River in Leeds once provided soils and sands to support a silver maple 390 years old and with a girth of 26 feet. It succumbed to age and the seasons in 2012.
The oaks along the northern shoreline still tenaciously held on to their golden brown leaves, but a freshening southerly breeze began to pluck many from their perches. It was raining leaves. Wispy cirrus clouds drifted eastward, a portent of the strong cold front expected to race across the region overnight.
My wife did a great job figuring out our route back to the boat launch, minimizing the effect of the current. We paddled around the Route One side of Cow Island on the return, spotting two red-shouldered hawks flying low through the trees looking for prey. A cormorant lifted off to our left. The low early-afternoon sun warmed our faces, and we basked in the fact we had found a perfect mid-November day to sneak in that last paddle of the year.
Passing under the two bridges just east of the boat launch we decided to paddle the half-mile down to the Pejepscot mill to take a few pictures. We found a quiet eddy below a large ledge and rested for a few minutes enjoying the flow of water around us and the view up to the Frank J. Wood bridge and ahead to the mill. The yellow portion that now houses the Sea Dog Brewery was once part of the Pejepscot paper mill. Built in 1868 it remains the oldest paper mill structure still standing in Maine.
Consult the DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map No. 6) for help in getting to the boat launch on Water Street. Pass the stuffing, then load up the canoe, or put another way; act gobblely, paddle locally.
Michael Perry is the former director of the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools, and founder of Dreams Unlimited, specializing in inspiring outdoor slide programs for civic groups, businesses, and schools. Contact:
Land Trust works to engage youth at Community Garden
BY LIZ PIERSON
“Mine’s got dirt on it!”
“Mine has two legs, like a funny little man!”
The first-time carrot harvesters — two nine-year-old boys — squealed with laughter. They beamed, held their carrots high, and knelt down to pull a few more.
It was a beautiful August day at Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Tom Settlemire Community Garden at Crystal Spring Farm. The carrot harvesters were 14 children and a few parents from Perryman Village Family Housing in Brunswick. Earlier this summer, with a grant from the Senter Fund, the Land Trust donated the lumber and soil for raised beds in front yards at the village. Land Trust staff and volunteers built the beds, and families helped fill and plant them with seedlings donated by several local farms.
Now, a group of these novice gardeners were touring the Land Trust’s own Community Garden. The group also picked peas, made their own wraps from local vegetables, and escaped the heat with a shady walk on a nearby Land Trust trail. Another group of Perryman kids had come to the garden in July.
For most of the kids, it was their first visit, but for a few, they proudly explained, it was old hat. In June, all of the first-graders at Brunswick’s Coffin Elementary School visited the garden to transplant 240 squash, pumpkins, and sunflowers they had started in their classrooms earlier in the spring. The squash harvest will be donated to Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, and the sunflowers and pumpkins will be harvested this fall by Coffin students.
The new raised beds at Perryman Village are also producing food.
“They look amazing. And the kids are doing the bulk of the work in them,” the Land Trust’s Outreach and Education Coordinator Lee Cataldo said recently. “It’s so wonderful to see the kids so engaged and drawing their parents in with their excitement and pride.”
The project, now in its second year, resulted from a partnership between the Land Trust and Art- Van, a local nonprofit that promotes the arts in low-income communities.
“We started by doing some environmental art at Perryman, and the gardening idea grew from that,” Cataldo said. She sees the project as an opportunity to open new doors and share ideas about what can be done with a garden, by anyone. “Growing your own food is empowering. Every kids deserves to have that experience.”
The project also reflects the expanding role of the Land Trust’s garden as a community-wide resource. In addition to its 80 plots for community members, the garden includes a large plot where food is grown for MCHPP primarily by volunteers. This summer, Curtis Memorial Library is hosting a series of gardening workshops in their demonstration plots at the garden. One of the newest partners is Brunswick High School, which also has a large plot for the summer farm program it runs for at-risk students. With every new activity and workshop offered, the Land Trust believes the garden strengthens its ties in the community.
Cataldo expects the satellite project at Perryman Village to expand next year.
“There’s demand,” she said. “In the two days we were there installing the beds, a lot more families said they’d like one.” She also hopes to add more field trips, including to local farms and the Land Trust’s farmers market.
Now in its fourth decade, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust strives to provide a diverse array of programs that serve the needs of as many segments of the community as possible. As for those young carrot harvesters? Cataldo smiled broadly.
“They’re great,” she said. “Some may become gardeners and some won’t. But all of our work with kids is an investment in the next generation of land stewards and a healthy community.”
For more information on the Land Trust’s Tom Settlemire Community Garden, visit www.btlt.org/community-garden.
May 25th at 10:00 pm, and May 27th at 11:00 am MPBN will be showing “Community Conservation, finding the balance between nature and culture” a new film created by Mark Ireland of MI Media.
This documentary, shot throughout four seasons, profiles four active land trusts in different regions of Maine, demonstrating their efforts in making conserved lands available to all members of their community.
Practitioners of community conservation look deeply at the traditions and needs of their own community members to forge access to preserved lands and create projects that address those needs. The four land trusts filmed provide great examples of community conservation:
Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) works with gardeners, both local and from away (Africa!) BTLT projects also range from supporting shellfish harvesters to supporting the faith community.
At Downeast Lakes Land Trust, community members served include school children, local crafts people, hunters and fishermen.
The Androscoggin Land Trust partners with various organizations to create access and programs for the immigrant community.
The Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust runs an Eco Camp which helps fund the cost for struggling local families with tourist dollars and the trust also runs a local campground.
The beauty of Maine, from coast to mountains, farmland to deep forests is captured in this documentary featuring hikers, kayakers, kids fishing, farmers, balsam tree-tippers, canoe-builders and many more, captured in all four seasons.