By Angela Twitchell, BTLT Executive Director
When I became a Topsham resident in 1999, one of the first things I did upon arrival was join the Board of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT). One of the first projects I helped work on as a member of the BTLT Lands Committee was finalizing the easement that would create the Cathance River Nature Preserve. The easement and the Preserve were a collaborative effort between the community organization – Topsham’s Future, Highland Green and BTLT. Through this incredible effort I was introduced to Carla and John Rensenbrink, long-time Topsham residents and community leaders.
I would later work closely with Carla on establishing Topsham’s Conservation Committee (later Commission) and with John and other community activists on Topsham’s Government Improvement Committee. We also worked closely together for many years to conserve and establish Topsham’s Head of Tide Park. Through these interactions and many more, John and Carla became not only good friends but deeply-admired mentors. They helped instill in me a strong commitment to making our community a great place to call home and a desire to bring diverse members of our community together around common goals. It is hard for me to imagine that I would have become so deeply ingrained in the fabric of Topsham without the guidance and example of John and Carla.
One of the many things I admire most about John and Carla is that they don’t just “talk the talk” when it comes to conservation and the protection of our special, local natural resources – they “walk the walk.” In 2002, Carla and John placed a conservation easement on 34 acres of their approximately 55-acre property located just above head of tide on the Cathance River in Topsham. They later allowed a portion of the Cathance River trail that connects Head of Tide Park to the Cathance River Nature Preserve to be built across their property. They were founders and Board and Advisory Board members of the Cathance River Education Alliance and stalwart members of the Head of Tide Park Committee. Carla also served for many years on the BTLT Board of Directors and Topsham Conservation Commision.
Adding to this long legacy of helping to conserve the Cathance River, on June 28, 2021, John and Carla donated a conservation easement on an additional 17.5 acres of their property to the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. All of us at BTLT are incredibly grateful for their generosity and commitment to the conservation of the Cathance River. This easement will ensure that a portion of the Cathance River Trail will be protected forever and will allow for an expansion of the trail in the future. The easement will also ensure that the property will be retained forever in its undeveloped, natural condition in order to protect the water quality of the Cathance River and its watershed. In addition, it will continue to provide public access for low-impact recreational opportunities. This conservation easement will also protect plant, wildlife, wetlands, agricultural soils, and upland habitat.
Please join us in sending a heartfelt thank you to the Rensenbrinks!
The conservation of the incredible resource that is the Cathance River would not be possible without the commitment of landowners and community activists like John and Carla.
Next time you are walking the Cathance River Trail or paddling along the Cathance River in Topsham, think about John and Carla and know that the public enjoyment of these special places wouldn’t have been possible without them.