Consider your eyes: set just above your nose, less than two inches apart, designed to zero in on what’s before you. There she is, nostrils working, tail twitching, taking one cautious step at a time, eyes wide to her head’s sides, designed to know what’s all around.
You and this deer are complements of aimed and spread awareness: predator and prey. You are hunting, and your prey is not the slow, shrink-wrapped meat of a supermarket aisle.
Whether we choose to hunt or not, we are of this relationship; it is part of our design. We are, of course, descendants of eons of hunter-gatherers, who found both a living and a place in a natural world tucked full of such relationships. Our social organization turned us into apex predators, and as we grew numerous, we chased other predators (see wolves or lions, e.g.) away.
During hunting season, common wisdom holds that hunters are filling an old role. Less common is an understanding of how vital hunting is to our valued, conserved, and agricultural lands.
In my last column, I wrote of tagging along with a local bowhunter as he looks for deer. To deepen my understanding of the role of hunting in our eco-system, I turned to a number of familiar and new writers, among them Leopold, Thoreau, Dillard. What’s grown in me, as a result, is an appreciation for the ways hunters know and value the land they walk.
My October example came from nearby Crystal Spring Farm, a more than 300-acre mix of farm and forest owned by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and farmed on over 100 of those acres by Seth Kroeck and Maura Bannon’s family.
From September 26th– October 31st it will be located on Brunswick Landing in the parking lot off Pegasus Street shared by the REAL School, Flight Deck Brewing and soon to be Wild Oats at their new location: the address is 11 Atlantic Ave.
The Land Trust moved the Market from its usual location on Crystal Spring Farm, to the Brunswick High School parking lot at the start of the market season in May. This was to ensure adequate space between vendors and space for customers to spread out, keeping everyone safe while COVID-19 poses a risk to community health. The Land Trust and the High School had hoped to keep the market at the High School for the full market season, but in order to safely offer school sports the High School will need to use their parking lots on Saturdays which conflicts with the market.
“We saw this as an opportunity to temporarily host the market near our new offices on Brunswick Landing, and contribute to develop the Landing as a community space” says Angela Twitchell, Executive Director of the Land Trust. The Land Trust reached out to TBW, LLC, Flight Deck Brewing, Wild Oats and The REAL School about the possibility of using the lot they share and everyone was enthusiastic. “We are excited to welcome one of the largest farmers’ markets in the state of Maine to Brunswick Landing. Showcasing our growing neighborhood in the town of Brunswick to the thousands of people who take advantage of the market each week is an enormous opportunity, and we are grateful for the Brunswick–Topsham Land Trust’s leadership” says Nate Wildes, Managing Partner of Flight Deck Brewing. Wild Oats is similarly looking forward to more people coming to The Landing,“while we won’t be moving to Brunswick Landing until late 2020, we are excited people will get a glimpse of our new building and experience the vibrant Brunswick Landing community” says Marshall Shepard of Wild Oats.
While moving the market twice in one season isn’t ideal, and can be confusing for customers, it has been necessary to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. The location on Brunswick Landing allows for distancing between vendors and customers, and abundant parking around the market area. “We are fortunate to have such amazing vendors at our market” says Jacqui Koopman, Market Manager for the Land Trust “they have been very understanding as we have worked to make the Market safe this season”.
Our summer intern, Dylan Sloan, worked tirelessly on the trails, in the Community Garden, on our blog, and more throughout the summer. While it could have been an odd summer with a global pandemic and social distancing, Dylan certainly made the most of it, stayed positive, and worked hard throughout his time with us. Thank you, Dylan, for all of your hard work!
Summer Intern Gets His Hands Dirty with Local Land Trust
By Tom Porter
August 21, 2020
Dylan Sloan ’22 admits he got “really lucky” with his summer internship. “To a large extent, much of the work I’m doing is outside and therefore unaffected by the pandemic and by social distancing guidelines.”
He has been working as a summer intern for the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to both conserving, protecting, and supporting local natural resources and to connecting citizens with these resources.
Some of Sloan’s work over the summer has him deskbound, requiring him to perform tasks like writing reports and press releases, but many of his responsibilities also involve heading outside and getting his hands dirty. Community gardening, tree-planting, trail maintenance, and trail development are some of the jobs he has been doing.
Such work may be relatively unaffected by the pandemic, but the COVID-19-induced lockdown has actually made it more relevant than ever, he says. “Given everything that’s going on and with many people stuck at home, I thought it might be a quiet summer. But, actually, there’s been a pretty sharp increase in the amount of people using trails the Land Trust operates, and the amount of people getting outside to garden and volunteer and things like that.”
Sloan has also learned new skills. One of the big projects he undertook during the summer involved working on a couple of plots of land that the organization recently took ownership of. “There are a lot of unmarked and unmapped trails on that land, so I’ve been walking those trails and logging them in GPS systems so we can eventually have more detailed maps available when the trails are opened to the public.”
Sloan, an economics major, is a journalist for the Bowdoin Orient, and it was in that capacity he first encountered the Land Trust. “I was writing an article early last semester about some of the Nordic and cross-country skiing opportunities offered through the Land Trust, and got to talk with the president, Angela Twitchell,” he said. “Later, when considering summer opportunities in the nonprofit sector and trying to pursue a grant through the Office of Career Exploration and Development, I remembered that I already had a cool connection with a local organization doing something I was really interested in.”
As well as getting a really good idea of how a small nonprofit works, Sloan has been delighted to spend the summer in this part of Maine. “I wanted to stay in the beautiful Brunswick area for at least one summer during my time here, and it’s been great to do that, even though it’s been a far-from-normal summer.”
Sloan was the recipient of a grant awarded by the Annual Fund for Career Readiness provided by Matthew R. Neidlinger ’06. He is one of more than 100 Bowdoin students who have a funded internship from Bowdoin’s Career Exploration and Development office to work with an organization of their choice this summer. These funds provide a living wage to students if their employer, often a nonprofit, is unable to pay its interns.
Kris Haralson and Alex Long are passionate about riding mountain bikes, but they are also passionate about engaging the next generation (or really anyone who is interested) in riding bikes. Kris and Al have been riding the technical mountain bike trails in the Bath area for years, but they saw that those who are new to mountain biking needed a place to ride too – and they wanted that place to be closer to home, right here in Brunswick. The two are a strong team – Kris with endless will and patience for community advocacy, Alex with truly impressive trail design and build techniques, and both with a willingness and ability to put in long hours in the woods building trail.
Without their efforts, the trails at Neptune Woods would have likely never been created. We are truly grateful for all of the time they have invested in this project and in engaging youth in riding their bikes. Thank you, Kris and Al, for your passion, dedication, skill, and hard work. We look forward to partnering on many more trails in our community!
“I advocate on behalf of the mountain bike community and other trail users for increased access to trails in the Brunswick area from a connectivity as well as a recreational standpoint. I am passionate about trail cycling and the overall health benefits it offers, as well as having others enjoy the trails we are creating for the community.” – Kris Haralson
“Trail building is my way of giving back to a sport that has provided my family and me with much happiness over the years. Designing and building trails is a small part of how I strive to leave this world a better place for the next generation. The Neptune Woods project specifically is a collaborative first step in building a new interconnected network of trails for all levels of mountain bikers in the Brunswick area.” – Alex Long
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.”