BTLT Welcomes New Stewardship and Lands Assistant

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is excited to welcome Garrett Fondoules as the organization’s second full time, permanent stewardship and lands team member! Garrett (he/him) joined BTLT in May 2022 having spent the previous nine years living semi-nomadically in the Appalachian Mountains. That time began with a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, continued with five thousand more miles of hiking, and concluded with six years working in GIS and land stewardship for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. He values good and well-organized data and can often be found immersed in spreadsheets, collecting even more data, and is always quick with a pun.

Garrett will be working alongside BTLT’s Director of Stewardship Margaret Gerber to steward the 3,100+ acres of land that BTLT has conserved to date, which will include monitoring and maintaining the 24 miles of trails BTLT manages, identifying and marking miles of property boundaries, annually inspecting all of BTLT’s conserved lands, and supporting BTLT’s lands work, to name just a few of the many projects and responsibilities of the stewardship team. 

When not at work, Garrett is most frequently found building his house or tending the gardens and woods of the homestead he started in Warren in 2020. When actually not at work, he enjoys hiking, kayaking, and finding a good pizza. 

Welcome to the BTLT team, Garrett!

Bringing Bats, Bees, and Birds Back

By Margaret Gerber, BTLT Director of Stewardship

On a cold and clear Sunday in December, Eagle Scout Luke Page visited Crystal Spring Farm. It was a nice afternoon for a walk, however he didn’t come empty handed, or alone. He brought with him 10 bumble bee boards, one bat box, two bluebird boxes, and a robin / cardinal nesting box. Armed with power tools and help from a fellow Eagle Scout, his troop leader, and the helping hands of parents, he installed another seven bat boxes, two bluebird boxes, and three robin / cardinal across Crystal Spring Farm, Tarbox Preserve, and Androscoggin Woods.

Hanging these boxes will help promote these species by providing shelter, and can be seen along field edges where bluebirds like to nest, hidden among hemlock or cedar bows where robin and cardinals are protected and hidden, and 14 feet above the ground facing south to keep bats safe from predators and in tune with the sun.

BTLT is grateful to Luke and his troop for their hard work, and we hope you’ll enjoy spotting these boxes next time you’re at the community garden or out on the trails at Crystal Spring Farm, Tarbox, or Androscoggin Woods!

 

 

It’s Hunting Season!

By Margaret Gerber, BTLT Director of Stewardship

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust recognizes the many intersections that hunting and conservation share, as both require keen observation, and understanding and respect of the natural world. Hunting is an important cultural tradition that has provided sustenance for thousands of years to the people who call Maine home, and continues to provide food, play an important role in conservation, and connect people with nature.

Present day Maine is 94% privately owned with varying levels of public access, and traditional hunting access to land in the greater Brunswick, Bowdoin, and Topsham area is disappearing as ownership changes hands and land is developed.

Hunting is not only an important tradition in Maine, but an important management tool to protect farmers’ livelihoods. Deer can ravage crops overnight and create a significant burden for farmers, straining their finances, endangering the health safety standards of their fields, and costing them valuable time and labor.

Expanded bow archery season begins on September 11th and runs through December 11th, so next time you head out on the trails, remember to wear your blaze orange!

Below is some information for trail users to help ensure a safe visit to the few BTLT trails where bowhunting is allowed:

  • Bowhunting only is currently allowed at Crystal Spring Farm, Tarbox Preserve, and Woodward Cove. Blaze orange vests can be found at the parking area kiosks for visitors to wear while on the trails and return after using. 
  • Hikers should wear blaze orange and exercise caution during hunting season (click here to find hunting season dates).
  • Hunters who you encounter on trails will have their arrows in a quiver while traveling, making it impossible for an arrow to accidentally be fired.
  • Please stay on marked trails and keep your dogs on leash – it is required on all BTLT trails all year long, and is especially important during hunting season to keep deer from being disturbed. There are fines if your dog is off leash and chases deer, so leash your dog or leave them at home during hunting season!
  • Please note that hunting on Sundays is illegal in Maine.
  • Bowhunters are not allowed to discharge an arrow within 75 feet of a trail and are made aware of the location of all trails on the property they are hunting. 
If you are interested in learning more about the Land Trust’s hunting rules or are interested in requesting permission to hunt on Land Trust properties next year, please visit https://www.btlt.org/itshuntingseason/.
The permission window for the current fall 2021 season has closed, but will be open again for spring turkey hunting!

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!

Summer Land Steward Job Opportunity

Position Description: Summer Land Steward, 2021

Part of the Regional Field Team at the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Brunswick Topsham Land Trust, & Phippsburg Land Trust

Job Title: Summer Land Steward

Hours: 40 hours per week for 10 weeks (June 7-August 13)

Compensation: $14.00 per hour

Requires: Availability and use of reliable personal vehicle

 

The Regional Field Team (RFT) is a collaboration between three organizations: Brunswick Topsham Land Trust (BTLT), Phippsburg Land Trust (PLT), and Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT). The Regional Field Team is seeking Summer Land Stewards for the 2021 field season.

 This is an outdoor position helping to maintain, monitor, and manage the protected lands and trails of Maine’s southern midcoast region across thirteen communities. Projects will be conducted on lands protected by all three regional organizations, giving our Summer Land Stewards experience with a wide variety of properties, tasks, and land conservation professionals. This will be an excellent opportunity for networking and gaining land management experience.

 

Opportunities Provided by this Position:

  • Learn plant and animal identification skills,  with a focus on invasive plant species
  • Experience the structure and operation of not-for-profit land trusts, with a particular emphasis on land management
  • Gain hands-on experience with the planning, construction, and maintenance of trails
  • Develop skills in observation and reporting
  • Have the opportunity to work with GPS data collection and basic ArcGIS mapping
  • Learn how read surveys and navigate the boundaries of properties with map, compass, and GPS
  • Spend most of the summer working in the beautiful natural areas of the Maine Coast

Supervision and Team Design:

The Summer Land Steward will work closely with the Stewardship Staff and/or Board Members at each of the land trusts. This summer we are building a Regional Field Team of four Summer Land Stewards; two Land Stewards will be managed primarily from the BTLT office in Brunswick, ME and two Land Stewards will be managed from the KELT office in Bath, ME. There will be opportunities to work jointly as a four-person team as well as working independently at times.  The Land Steward will also have the opportunity to work with and lead groups of volunteers. The Land Steward will frequently meet visitors on our properties. Successful applicants will be expected to act professionally and communicate in a polite manner, both with the public and with fellow team members, as well as follow all applicable COVID-19 guidelines.

Responsibilities:

  • Conduct trail clearing and trimming with loppers, hand-saws, bow-saws, etc.
  • Occasional use of string trimmer or hedge-trimmer for trail clearing
  • Use of chainsaw possible, depending on skill level and project needs
  • Monitor preserve conditions and create detailed reports and maps of problem areas
  • Traverse property boundaries to maintain signage and check for encroachment
  • Assist with occasional clean-up of illicit dumping sites
  • Help to build bog bridges, stone steps, and other trail structures
  • Check and maintain kiosks, map boxes, trail signage, and paint blazing
  • Conduct mechanical control of invasive plants (i.e. cutting, digging, pulling)
  • Assist with any other suitable project, indoor or outdoor, as needed
  • Keep a log of activities and hours completed

Preferred Education/Experience:

Completed High School program, plus some college and/or relevant work experience. Applicants still in HS may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Necessary Qualifications:

  • Driver’s license and reliable personal transportation
  • Ability to lift and carry equipment over rough ground
  • Willingness to work in sometimes adverse conditions including heat, rain, biting insects, and difficult terrain
  • Ability to use hand tools and power tools in the field
  • Ability to work, responsibly, safely, and at times independently
  • Enthusiasm for outdoor work and conservation

Please share with us if you have any similar skills or experiences to those listed below:

  • First Aid Certification
  • Experience working outdoors, particularly on trails
  • Experience communicating with the public
  • Map and compass (orienteering) skills
  • Environmental or ecological study or background knowledge

 

To Apply:

Send a cover letter and resume in one PDF to info@kennebecestuary.org with the subject line ‘Summer Land Steward’. Applicants may also send applications by mail to P.O. Box 1128, Bath ME, 04530.

Please prepare the names and contact information of two references. If an applicant is called to interview, KELT may request the list of references at that time.

Application Deadline:  Friday, March 19th