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Welcome Tess Davis, Bowdoin Summer Fellow

BTLT is so excited to welcome our Bowdoin Summer Fellow, Tess Davis. 

Hello, BTLT community! My name is Tess, and I’m interning at Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust for the summer of 2021. I am thrilled to be working with such a vibrant, committed community.

To tell you a little bit about me, I’m a sophomore at Bowdoin College, and I intend to major in Environmental Studies and English. As a child, I spent the school year in Montana and the summers in Maine. Both states have awe-inspiring scenery, but it was in Maine where I truly fell in love with nature. Ocean swimming is probably my favorite outdoor activity, although kayaking, and hiking are a close second.

The environment has given us so much: nature renews our spirits, provides us with water and food, and reminds us of our humanity. We must protect the environment and make it accessible for all people.

This summer, I will strive to make BTLT more accessible and inclusive for underrepresented groups. To meet this goal, I want to highlight the fantastic conservation work that underrepresented people have done. I will write a series of blog posts about the impact of queer conservationists, BIPOC conservationists, and disabled conservationists, so look out for those! I’ll also being doing some research to help the BTLT leadership in planning for more diversity and inclusion work in the future, and I will be out on-the-ground working with young people who have limited access to environmental education.

I am delighted to be part of your community, and I hope to serve you all!

Taking Root Blossoms BIG

The return of the Taking Root Plant Sale this spring (after a Covid hiatus in 2020) was a huge success, breaking records both for number of plants sold and funds raised. This fundraiser is the Land Trust’s biggest fundraiser of the year and covers all of the day-to-day operating expenses for our Tom Settlemire Community Garden (TSCG), which includes 80 plots for community members, a large area where volunteers grow food for the clients of Mid Coast Hunger Prevention, as well as several community partnerships and research efforts.

Last Saturday morning, there were over 2,000 beautiful plants filling the Exhibition Hall at the Topsham Fairgrounds, and in just a few short hours all but about 75 of them were gone. Hundreds of community members came to the sale, with the checkout line extending through the hall by around 10 am.

But really, the most wonderful part of the morning, was the HUGE outpouring of volunteer support.

The sale is run by an amazing lead team who start their planning for next year just weeks after the sale. They oversee every aspect of the sale, from dividing and growing plants at TSCG, to bringing in and preparing donations from the community, to managing site logistics, volunteers, and so very much more. In addition to that, dozens of volunteers coordinate major areas of the sale – everything from parking to sales to trees and shrubs.

In the days leading up to the sale and on the day of, dozens more volunteers show up to move plants, set up tables, direct traffic, and the list goes on. Arriving at the sale in a crowded parking lot baking in the hot sun, visitors were greeted by smiling faces helping them find their way. The hall sported “plant experts” in yellow aprons helping buyers chose just the right plants for their yard. As you left the hall with a tray laden with plants, volunteers literally vied with one another to help you check out, while others pressed offers of help with carrying, and wagons for your load.

It’s really an amazing experience, especially when you realize that essentially every aspect was coordinated and completed by a volunteer, and every smiling face helping you with your purchase was a volunteer.

So, BTLT wants to say THANK YOU – to the community members that donated plants, to the community members that came to purchase plants, AND to the community members who have volunteered so many hours to bring the two together.

The sale isn’t “complete” when the hall is emptied, or all those roots are settled into soil. There are ripple effects that just go on and on, as the funds raised are able to support so much good at TSCG. For that we are particularly grateful.

*Photos by Burke Long

A Great Year of Support from Our Members

What a year — and how grateful we are to you, our members!

As the pandemic unfolded in Maine one year ago, we, like you, were not sure what to expect. We knew our properties and trails would be more important than ever for those seeking solace and fresh air and exercise, but we were not sure what the economic fallout would be. Our members quickly made it clear, however, that if they could continue to support our work, they would.

We now find ourselves closing in on the end of a second fiscal year impacted by Covid-19. We are working hard to meet our Annual Fund goals. To date, we have raised $226,736 towards our goal of $257,753 and we have 927 members with a goal of 1,078 members.

We have $31,017 left to raise and 151 members to add to our ranks by the end of our fiscal year on June 30th. We could use your help!

If our properties, programs, and trails helped to make the past year a little better for you and your family, helped to ease your mind, and maybe made things a little less stressful, we ask you to make a gift to BTLT before the end of our fiscal year on June 30th. Your support makes everything we do possible!

You can make a secure, online donation HERE or feel free to mail a donation to our new office located at 179 Neptune Drive, Suite 200, Brunswick, 04011. Thank you for helping to make our work possible!

Joy in Simple Rediscoveries

By Benet Pols

Relentlessly, we walked.

“Just going,” my neighbor answered when asked if he was going someplace special.

March 2020. My family, home from school, taught and studied. I alone left for work in a place radically changed by a mood of dutiful determination. Beyond that, and forays to scout for precious yeast or some treat, there was only walking.

Soon neighborhood streets no longer met the need. There were too many awkward curbside pas-de-deux over which neighbor would cross and which would stay. This drove us to the woods; there the walk was accompanied by joy in simple rediscoveries, the early greening of moss, the faint trickle of melt water in a quiet grove, paths not taken since childhood.

It was spring so the signs of renewal were there. And we were outside to greet them.

After crossing two land trust properties and a friendly farm we tromped through a town-owned patch of woods that leads to the edge of Maquoit Bay. Too far from home to get back in time to make dinner we ruefully called for a ride. Bushwhacking near the shoreline on the old navy base we got turned around. Location services showed us where on God’s green earth we were. We stumbled on artworks left to astound passersby. One muddy afternoon found us staring in disbelief at a numbered mail box deep in the woods on a rutted, rocky, track barely wide enough for a Honda Fit.

The trails were a quagmire, the woods still snowy. Yet we always met people: hardcores in crisp synthetic fibers, conquering some twinkling copse with hiking poles, but also people in tank tops and camo carrying Mountain Dew. Everyone walked.

Accessible, nearby, natural, outdoor space is an imperative.

There is an expectation of conservation land: we are owed a pay-off. Instagram celebrates cliffs, peaks, or kayak camping on moonlit islands. Make no mistake, a crescendo at trail’s end is a fine thing but these walks were quiet, subtle meanderings. Tethered all day to the internet, with its grim statistical aggregation of dread, we were more grateful than ever to reclaim tranquility.

So much of what is preserved is humble: no grand vistas, no adrenaline rush, BUT it is almost next door. And there is gentle glory in the shadows, the glittering of new leaves in slanting afternoon light, and sounds so fleeting to be mistaken for silence.

Spring, again. Marvel at the lasting light, the throbbing of peepers deep in the woods and that years ago —enturies even— someone decided to leave it alone for us in this moment.

BTLT is Hiring: Temp Communications Assistant

Position Overview 

The Communications Assistant will support the implementation of most aspects of our digital communicationsThis position will run from May to September 2021, at 10-15 hours per week.  


The successful candidate will have experience with various social media platforms, WordPress or other web management software, and design of regular e-communicationsThe candidate should be organized and adaptable; be able to manage multiple projects and deadlines at once; and have the ability to work independently based on direction of other staff.  


  • Excellent writingediting, and verbal communication skills  
  • Experience with website management 
  • Proficiency with Google Analytics, Microsoft Office, WordPress, MailChimp (or other email marketing program), and social media 
  • The ability to work both independently and collaboratively  
  • A sincere commitment to the mission of BTLT


  • IT skills, specifically in Microsoft 365 
  • Graphic Design experience 
  • Photography skills


The primary responsibility of this position is to produce and maintain BTLT’s digital communications materials, including its website, blog content, social media, e-news, as well as create event fliersThis person will keep abreast of the latest news internal and external to the organization and update content as necessary. 

This is a part-time, temporary position from May to September 2021, which is eligible for benefits, including flexible schedule, remote work option, retirement contribution, and paid vacation, sick time, and holidays. Compensation is competitive and commensurate with experience. 

DEADLINE: May 10, 2021 

To apply, please email resume and two references to with Communications Assistant as the subject line. In the interest of reducing waste, please do not mail a hard copy of your materials. Interested applicants are encouraged to apply ASAP. No phone calls, please. 

About Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust:   

BTLT is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission to steward the cherished landscapes and rich natural resources of our communities, to connect people to nature by providing recreational opportunities and other engaging community activities, and to support local agriculture and fisheries, now and for generations to come. We were founded in 1985 and have grown over the past 35 years into a robust organization that holds over 3,100 acres in conservation, provides diverse programming, and works closely with an array of community partners to enhance the environmental vibrancy and health of our region.  We have approximately 1,000 members including a vibrant business membership. We have five part- to full-time staff, a board of directors of nearly 20, and dozens of active committee members. Learn more about our mission and programs at   

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other legally protected factors. We actively encourage community members with diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and ways of life to consider working with us. 

Cathance River Nature Preserve Partially Re-Opened!

Just in time for mud season, BTLT, Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA), and the Preserve landowner, Seacoast Management, are pleased to announce the limited re-opening of Cathance River Nature Preserve following its 2020 closure due to COVID19.

Initially, trails will be accessible only from the Ecology Center parking lot. The Cathance River and Highland Trails will be open as far south as the Rapids Trail. The Beaver and Barnes Leap Trails will also be open. The wearing of masks in outdoor public spaces is still required, so please keep trails safe and open by following this rule.

To ensure a smooth re-opening and make sure that trails can remain open, please do not use closed trails, unfinished re-routes, or closed parking areas.

Hiker Parking will remain closed until trail re-routes around the Sycamore Drive Ext development are complete. Once new bridges associated with trail re-routes are complete, all Preserve trails will open for use.

It is essential that Preserve visitors park only in designated parking areas, which are the Ecology Center parking lot and (when re-routes are complete) Hiker Parking. Most of the streets in Highland Green are not public ways and street parking is not allowed. Please park efficiently to maximize parking space and if parking lots are full, return another day. Check our TRAILS PAGE to find many other wonderful local hikes.

We are delighted to announce this news, but because it is mud season, we caution people to exercise restraint in use of the trails until things dry out. In the meantime, please follow best practice for hiking during mud season: wear waterproof footwear that can get muddy; walk through, not around, muddy areas to avoid extending the damage and widening the path more than necessary; hike early or late in the day when temps are cooler and the ground is firmer.

We thank you for your patience during the closure and look forward to seeing you on Preserve trails in the coming months!

2021 WGW Pollinators

2021 WGW Pollinators

By Averil Fessenden

Here we are in a tantalizing time of year, with the light and warmth on the upswing, foretelling gardening season. Yet cold days and nights, brown and dull colors coming into sight as the snow disappears are with us as winter wanes.  What better way to tame our eagerness for the coming season, than to learn about creating a colorful and useful pollinator garden. What is a pollinator garden? It is a garden designed and planted with specific nectar and pollen producing plants in a way that attracts pollinating insects.  Dev Culver, coordinator of the Common Good Garden, offered a workshop on how to build and maintain pollinator spaces as part of the Winter Garden Workshops: Growing Literacy series put on annually by BTLT and Curtis Memorial LibraryView the workshop webinar here. 

“The Bank”, healing in garden for plants destined for Tom Settlemire Community Garden’s annual Taking Root Plant Sale.
Photo Credit: Ellen Maling

Much of our plant food, – nuts, fruits and vegetables, and many flowers depend on pollination to reproduce. Insects – bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and even ants do this essential job. They are in decline due to our hotter, drier climate, loss of natural habitat, and pesticides. We depend on these insects and thus can’t survive without them. Creating gardens and landscapes to attract and feed them is one way to maintain or increase their populations. These are colorful gardens as color is a main feature that attracts insects to particular flowers. In this virtual show we saw beautiful photos of a variety of pollinator gardens and many of their insect pollinators. 

Dev offered 8 tips for creating a pollinator garden or landscape. He suggested using native plants as they provide shelter, and food for native wildlife species, and they are well suited to local soils and conditions. Natives don’t require fertilization, and promote biodiversity and ecosystem health. Fortunately there are many native plants that thrive and bloom through the growing season, see a list by bloom month here in Dev’s presentation slides.  Native plants like lots of sun, so planting in open spaces is best. Insects are most attracted when plants of the same kind are planted in groups or bunches.  Provide a water source, such as a birdbath with rocks in itAnd we were reminded that developing a pollinator garden to its full potential takes time – a few years in fact.

2020 CGG volunteers building TSCG’s newest pollinator bed which focuses on plants that attract moths, and other less well known pollinators.
Photo credit: Dev Culver

Dev told his audience that The Tom Settlemire Community Garden had a busy and successful summer in 2020. The Common Good part of the garden yielded 4,000 pounds of vegetables for Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program with the help of 23 volunteers – both new highs. Volunteers under the leadership of Ellen Maling also have planted hundreds of perennials that will be available for purchase in the BTLT plant sale on June 5 at Topsham Fair Grounds Exhibition Hall.  

Pollinator Gardening was a workshop in Growing Literacy, the winter gardening series that is sponsored jointly by BTLT and Curtis Memorial Library. This collaboration is supported by Camden National Bank – we extend our appreciation. Working together, Local Business, Library and Land Trust make a valuable contribution to our community.