By George Jutras – BTLT Land Steward
This past Saturday, November 6th, marked the official opening of our newest public access property, Androscoggin Woods, which was conserved by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust in 2019. Androscoggin Woods is 53 acres in size, stretches two miles along the Androscoggin River, and is home to 12 acres of wetlands which provide important habitat for many plant and animal species as well as a buffer along the river against the impacts of further development.
In addition to its value for ecological conservation, the Androscoggin Woods property presents an opportunity to tell the story of the Androscoggin River and the people who have lived on its banks. The Indigenous people who farmed, hunted, and fished along the river were called the Arasagunticook and were part of the Wabanaki nation that inhabited the region for thousands of years before colonization. They depended heavily on the resources of the river from the fertile floodplains for growing corn to the abundant fish. It was these same resources that brought early colonial settlers. These settlers dammed the river for its power, which, by the early 1800’s had severely limited the ability for the once abundant fisheries to migrate up and down the river. Later, pulp and paper mills released toxic waste into the river, and it became one of the most polluted waterways in the nation. It was this river that inspired Senator Ed Muskie, of Rumford Maine, to press the US Congress to adopt the Clean Water Act of 1972 which resulted in the much cleaner river you can visit today.
The official public opening of the property featured guided walks with BTLT’s Director of Stewardship Margaret Gerber and Land Steward George Jutras, with a special presentation from local Topsham historian Dana Cary. More guided stewardship walks are being planned for the spring, so keep an eye out for future announcements if you were unable to attend our grand opening! Can’t wait for a stewardship walk? Here’s the trail guide if you feel like exploring on your own.
With over a mile of trails both inland and along the riverfront, this preserve provides excellent opportunities for hiking, fishing, nature observation, and water access with a boat launch located just up the river from the property. We encourage you to visit our new property soon – more information including our trail map and directions to the property can be found here: https://www.btlt.org//