Upcoming Public Meeting on Mare Brook

Whether you call it Mare, Mair, or Mere, your feedback is welcome on this urban impaired stream! As follow-up to a brook assessment grant completed in 2016, Brunswick was given a Maine DEP grant in 2019 to plan for the brook’s improvement – the upgrade in water quality and management is much needed, as BTLT Board Director Sandy Stott says, “It is [Brunswick’s] aquatic bloodstream; it is the brook that runs through us.” As the planning grant is coming to a close, there will be public meetings for anyone interested to hear the proposed plan for the Brook and provide input or ask questions. At this point in time, all meeting will be hosted over zoom. Links will be posted on the Brunswick calendar here.
Upcoming public meetings:
  • Sept. 23, 7 pm to 8:30 pm Televised meeting in Council Chambers: 1st Public meeting presentation of Mare Brook Watershed Management Plan Project, stream stressor analysis, and draft action items
    • Sept. 30: Public Comments requested for Stressor Analysis and Draft Action Items
  • Oct. 14: 5 pm to 6:30 pm Televised meeting in Council Chambers: 2nd Public meeting presentation of Draft Watershed Management Plan with Action Items Cost Estimates
    • Oct. 27: All (Public / Town Council) Comments due on draft Watershed Management Plan (WMP)
    • Nov. 10: Draft WMP sent to DEP
  • Dec. 6 or week of: Evening Meeting: 3rd and Final Public Meeting Presentation of Completed Plan

Curious to read more? Check out Stott’s latest writings on Mare Brook in the Press Herald and Times Record:

Mare Brook emerges from 3 culverts after its 2/3rds-mile passage beneath the Landing runways

 

 

The Woodward Point Accessible Trail Project

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust and are fundraising to create a level, half-mile trail at Brunswick’s popular Woodward Point Preserve. Join the effort and make a gift today—every dollar supports making this beautiful preserve more accessible to everyone in our community! 

GIVE TODAY!

We want community members of all abilities to enjoy the beauty of Woodward Point.

Our goal is to build an accessible trail and parking to facilitate access for all visitors, including people who need a level surface to walk, use a wheelchair, or push a stroller.

To do this we need to raise $132,000.

Trails create active, healthy, and happy communities. Everyone deserves the enjoyment of this special place!

How this place became open to the public

Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust conserved Woodward Point in 2019, realizing the previous landowners’ dream of permanent protection for the property’s open space, scenic beauty, and extensive ecological values.

Woodward Point is a much-loved outdoor resource

Just minutes from downtown Brunswick, Woodward Point is a cherished destination for walking, nature observation, kayaking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Trails cut across several large fields, through woods, and down to the shore. Stone steps at four locations provide access to the water—including at a hand-carry boat launch site not far from the parking lot.

When you give today you will help:

  • Establish a level, half-mile accessible trail with a stone dust surface;
  • Make Woodward Point safe and accessible to more people;
  • Expand local outdoor opportunities for people of all abilities.

Thank you for considering a gift to help us enhance this community preserve!

For more information, please contact:

Angela Twitchell, BTLT Executive Director: 207-729-7694 angela@btlt.org

OR

Seth Levy, MCHT Donor Engagement Officer: 207-607-4361 slevy@mcht.org

Additional project details:

Woodward Point Preserve was conserved with generous support from many individuals, the Town of Brunswick, the Land for Maine’s Future Program, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Wetlands Program.

Town/County: Brunswick, Cumberland County
Total Project cost: $132,000

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!

New Mainers Garden a Blooming Success

Since we built ten raised garden beds for our New Mainer neighbors back in June, they have been well utilized and well loved!

Ana, Wewe, & Erica – photo by Kelli Park

ESL educator Kelli Park, who’s been working with the New Mainers for years, remarks: “The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Community Garden is so much more than just a garden. It offers a space for multicultural individuals to embrace their dynamic cultural identities by participating in traditions that were important to them in their lives in their native countries, while working toward building new traditions in their lives in Maine.

This space provides a foundation for New Mainers to construct their new, changing cultural identities in ways that empower them.

It provides the tools to work toward increased independence, while building a sense of community in healthy ways that connect to all aspects of their daily lives with cultivating and cooking.

Ana & Wewe’s children – photo by Kelli Park

“The creation of these kinds of spaces is absolutely essential in the work toward creating more equitable opportunities for individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Maine has the potential to leverage and cultivate multiculturalism within our communities to develop a new kind of dynamic population defined, in part, by the cultural influences that have arrived in our state from the far reaches of the globe. The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Community Garden for New Mainers is just one step in the right direction!”

Here’s what the New Mainers have to say…

Sivi – “I am really delighted because it helps us a lot to have very fresh produce and it’s good for the community. It helps my household in particular and it helps neighbors in the community. The community garden makes us independent in the sense that, if you need anything, you can harvest it directly.” 

Wewe – “I’m very thankful that the community gave us this space for the garden. I’m very happy to have planted vegetables because I like natural food a lot. The garden has made me more independent because, for example, if I need tomatoes, I go directly to my garden to get them. I don’t have to call anyone to help me get them.”

Bella – “There is nothing not to like about the community garden. I like planting. It’s very important to me. We Africans also like to cultivate so it is very important for the community. I can be independent with my own garden because I could grow whatever I want. . .Because I could plant the same things in the garden, like kikaza, [sweet] potato vines, gimboa, keca, and much more, it represents or connects to my life in Africa.”

Wewe & Blaise – photo by Kelli Park

Invasive Plants and Ecological Considerations on BTLT Properties

By George Jutras

“Invasive” species refer to a species that is not only not native to a particular area, but is actively displacing native species and changing the makeup of an ecosystem. While some invasives may garner headline-grabbing attention such as the European green crab marching along the Maine coastline, many other species of invasives, particularly plants, are slowly and quietly redefining the ecological niches they now inhabit.

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry defines an invasive species if it carries these three characteristics:

  • Is not native to Maine;
  • Has spread (or has the potential to spread) into minimally managed plant communities (habitats);
  • Causes economic or environmental harm by developing self-sustaining populations that are dominant or disruptive to native species.

While invasive species can be found almost anywhere, plants fitting the MDACF definition are found most commonly and densely in areas at the margins of an ecological disturbance. Clear cuts, roadways, powerline corridors, housing developments, industrialized areas, and the margins of historic farmlands are all examples of lands that have experienced recent ecological disturbance. Like any plant species, invasives need an available ecological space, or niche, within an ecosystem in which to grow. It is after an ecological disturbance such as the clearing of land, when niches may be made available, that invasive species can often outcompete native species to recolonize an area.

A few Invasive Plant Species to Look Out For:

Norway Maple

Norway Maple Acer platanoides

The Norway maple is a native of northern Europe, but was introduced as a landscape tree in cities and suburban areas around the state as a fast-growing hardwood that provides a dense shade canopy. As a direct competitor with native Maine maple species (silver maple, red maple, and the beloved sugar maple), Norway Maple threatens these species in their own habitats by growing quickly and shading-out native saplings.

Asiatic Bittersweet Celastrus orbiculatus

Asiatic Bittersweet

Most iconic in late fall, Asiatic Bittersweet produces red berries with yellow covering that Mainers often make into festive holiday wreaths. Bittersweet was introduced as a landscape ornamental and historically spread by Maine DOT as fast-growing roadside cover for erosion control. Bittersweet seed is spread via bird droppings, but also through improper disposal of bittersweet wreaths (wreaths should be bagged and landfilled – or, preferably, not created or purchased at all). While Bittersweet climbs and eventually strangles trees, dense patches of the invasive species was also found in a 2011 study to harbor high tick populations.

Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowi)

Honeysuckle varieties Lonicera morrowi, tatarica, japonica,  and maacki

The several varieties of invasive honeysuckle share similar traits. A Tall shrubby plant (6-10ft), honeysuckle can be distinguished by its paired leaves and when a stem is broken, its hollow pith. Several native varieties of honeysuckle exist, including the mountain honeysuckle which is endangered in Maine. Maine native species are much shorter (only 1-2ft tall) and all Maine native species have an exclusively solid pith making them easily distinguishable from their invasive counterparts. Invasive honeysuckle outcompetes natives in similar ecosystems due to faster growth and greater height. This plant can also establish dense stands that limit the movement of wildlife.

Japanese Barberry Berberis thunbergii

Japanese Barberry is a distinctive shrub with oval leaflets and thorns along stems that produces red berries in the fall. Turkey and Grouse love these berries which aids in its spread via seed, although plant limbs that touch the ground can produce roots, which increases the density of established colonies. Japanese Barberry was brought to the US as a replacement for common barberry which can host stem wheat rust, a fungus that has historically had a severe impact on wheat crops. Barberry has the greatest ecological impact when it can proliferate to grow in dense colonies to crowd out native understory plants, eventually altering mature forest ecosystems.

Autumn Olive

Autumn Olive Elaeagnus umbellata

Autumn Olive is a tall treelike shrub (10-20’) with long thin leaves with silvery undersides and no relation to true olive trees. Autumn Olive produces red fruits that are commonly eaten by birds and mammals but are poor in nutritional value. A study noted by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension found that Autumn Olive fruit contributes to malnutrition in migratory bird populations. Autumn Olive also creates ecological concern primarily with changes to forest understory as it eventually creates an unnatural midstory in open mixed deciduous forests.

Multiflora or Rambler Rose Rosa multiflora

Rambler Rose

Multiflora Rose is a bushy shrub with thorny branches most visibly identifiable when blooming in June, and difficult to distinguish from native raspberry and blackberry in other months. The rose species produces white flowers and is distinct from all native roses which produce pink flowers. Multiflora Rose proliferates rapidly and competes with native raspberry and blackberry species as well as other ground cover plants for the understory of forests and the margins of cleared land.

 

Additional Resources

Much of this article was written with the help of resources from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. Additional resources including a full list of invasive plant species in Maine and several helpful plant identification guides can be found at their webpage, here: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/horticulture/invasiveplants.shtml

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week with a BTLT Farmers’ Market Giveaway!

By Julia St. Clair

Happy National Farmers Market Week! 

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Saturday Farmers’ Market is an important part of the Land Trust’s mission of supporting local agriculture. With over 30 vendors this season, the Saturday Market offers an exceptional variety of local, fresh products from kohlrabi to kale, pastries to potatoes, oysters to onions, and yarrow to yarn. Plus, live music is back bringing cheer and even some dancing to the Market! This past year has been challenging for us all, and our vendors have worked tirelessly to keep our communities safe and fed and to bring Market visitors the best local products. Rain or shine, our incredible vendors and loyal Market visitors show up every Saturday, building community around local agriculture and deepening our understanding of where our food comes from. 

The Land Trust is excited to celebrate National Farmers Market Week with our vendors and Market visitors this weekend and throughout the month of August. Be sure to stop by the info tent on Saturday to grab an ‘I Love Fruits and Veggies’ sticker or an ‘I love Farmers Markets’ temporary tattoo!

To continue to celebrate National Farmers Market Week throughout the month of August, BTLT is launching a Farmers’ Market Giveaway on social media. To enter, we are asking you, our Market visitors, to take a photo of your haul of goodies from the Saturday Farmers’ Market (see example photo below). Simply post your market haul photo on Facebook or Instagram, and tag the Land Trust and any vendors you visited. Be sure to follow us on Facebook or Instagram too – we will be re-sharing all the amazing photos you post! A winner will be selected at random on September 1st and will receive some BTLT merchandise, Bumper Crop vouchers to use at the Market, and some surprise goodies from our Market vendors!

We look forward to seeing you all at the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market this Saturday 8:30-12:30 at the Brunswick Landing next to Flight Deck Brewing. 

Just a reminder that the Farmers’ Market is moving back to Crystal Spring Farm (277 Pleasant Hill Road) on September 4th, Labor Day weekend. Be sure to mark your calendar!

Carolina Parakeet to Starfish: A human connection

By Tess Davis, Bowdoin Summer Fellow on DEI

This week, I’m thinking about animals. As most of you know, climate change is adversely affecting animals. This is deeply sad and, I think, should motivate people to fight climate change. So let’s look more closely at two animals, the now extinct Carolina Parakeet and the starfish of Maine, to better understand the importance of animals and how much we would lose if we do not combat climate change.

Let’s start with the starfish. I’ve only seen a starfish once in my life, but the sighting had a substantial impact on me. When I was a child, my father took my brothers and me on walks along the Maine coastline. We walked in the early morning, a few hours after sunrise. On the morning we found the starfish, my youngest brother gave a sudden shout, and I ran from the edges of the sea to where he stood pointing. The starfish was stuck to the rocks a few feet above a tide pool. It was perfect. It was the same sandy pink as the rocks and each arm formed a cartoonish pointed tip.

When I held the starfish in my hands, I had an incredible realization that the starfish and I were not so different. Our ancestors both evolved in the sea over millions of years, and, out of all the times and places in history, we ended up together, here, on this morning.

Nature, and especially animals, have the power to remind us of our unique place in the world. In many ways, humans are just another species caught up in the food web. Yet, we are also thinking, feeling beings who have a responsibility to care for the land.

Unfortunately, we have failed to protect the natural world. Instead, we have abused the environment, and we are actively harming the very species that bring us so much joy and connect us to our humanity. This idea had been ruminating in my mind, but it did not come into focus until I read J. Drew Lanham’s Forever Gone. Lanham discusses the extinction of the Carolina Parakeet, a bird he feels a particular connection to as a black man. As Lanham explains, the Carolina Parakeet thrived in the American South before its extinction in the early 20th century. Lanham believes that his enslaved ancestors felt a connection to the Carolina Parakeet.

In the grueling hours of manual labor, he imagines that his ancestors looked to the sky, to the flocks of Carolina Parakeets eating cockleburs and calling to each other in jubilant expressions of freedom, and felt hope.

Lanham mourns the Carolina Parakeet’s extinction because the parakeets embodied his connection to the land and the land’s history. Likewise, my encounter with a starfish helped me to realize the depth of our connection to the natural world. Although starfish are not extinct, in 2013 and 2014, there was a starfish disease outbreak on the west coast and parts of New England. This disease, Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, causes starfish to develop lesions, lose their limbs, and eventually disintegrate into mush. New research discovered that warm water temperatures exasperate Sea Star Wasting Syndrome. Therefore, as the water warms due to climate change, more and more starfish could be at risk. The 2013-2014 outbreak caused millions of starfish to die. Currently, starfish populations are recovering, but Sea Star Wasting Syndrome might become a threat to starfish again.

Starfish and Carolina Parakeets are only two examples of the thousands of species that have been negatively affected by humans. Animals give us so much. Animals renew our spirits, connect us to the land, connect us to our ancestors, and connect us to ourselves. Yet, if we do not change how we treat the world, we could lose many species. If we lose animals, we are losing parts of ourselves. We must change for the better.

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.