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Enjoying the Androscoggin Woods Preserve with Dash

By Cora Spelke, BTLT Summer Intern

Dogs on a leash are welcome at Androscoggin Woods!

I have heard many stories about how polluted and disgusting the Androscoggin River used to be from my mom who grew up in Lewiston. Thirty years later we live in Topsham just under 20 miles southwest of Lewiston, on the very same river. While the water still has a long way to go, the river and the surrounding land can now be used for numerous recreational activities such as hiking, boating, and even swimming.

A view of the clear river.

A lot has changed for the Androscoggin River thanks to the Clean Water Act and organizations like the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT). Androscoggin Woods, one of BTLT’s properties, is 53 acres of conserved land next to and around the river. The property is easily found just off of Lewiston Road, and there is a parking lot directly next to the trail entrance and trail head. As you enter into the woods there is a well-maintained trail that is surrounded by trees, ferns, and other local flora. The trails are clearly marked and bring you along a mile long loop (River Loop Trail) that walks directly next to the river. There is also a shorter cross-cut trail that runs through the center of the loop (Woods Trail). Along the loop there are multiple different water viewpoints so that you can easily walk to the edge of the water to look at the clear, still water. At one of the viewpoints the water is covered in lily pads and is a great place to watch for wildlife.

Dash hearing an animal by the river.

When I arrived at the first viewpoint, which is one of the water access highlights on the trail map, there were two women wading in the water on the very hot July day. Thanks to the BTLT, the water by the trail will be conserved, and available for recreation like this forever. To know that this land will be protected perpetually makes me feel excited for the future of our local woods and waters. If you like to enjoy peace and quiet in the woods with the beautiful backdrop of the river, then you would love the quick easy trails that are located on the Androscoggin Woods property. I highly recommend that you find a time to come out and enjoy the trails!

Cora and Dash in front of the water access point.

Stewardship Tour Series: Androscoggin Woods

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  • Androscoggin Woods Tour
    August 28, 2022
    4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Join BTLT for a guided walk of one of their newest properties, Androscoggin Woods.

Stewardship Tour Series: Androscoggin Woods


  • Androscoggin Woods Tour
    October 1, 2022
    2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Join BTLT for a guided walk of one of their newest properties, Androscoggin Woods.

Androscoggin Woods Closed for Winter Season

The Land Trust was excited to open the Androscoggin Woods property in Topsham to the public late this fall and have enjoyed hearing stories of how many people have enjoyed visiting it since it’s opening.

Unique not only for the phenomenal views of the Androscoggin River that the River Loop provides, this property also has a steeply sloping driveway off of Route 196. With recent winter weather and due to safety concerns of ice and snow creating unsafe driving conditions during the winter season, we will be closing Androscoggin Woods until the spring. Parking is prohibited along the side of Route 196, where traffic is fast moving and it unsafe to do so. We will be exploring options for future winter use moving forward but during this winter season our top priority is safety.

We encourage you to visit the following BTLT properties this winter while Androscoggin Woods is closed:

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!

 

 

Androscoggin Woods Trail NOW OPEN

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/conserved-lands/androscoggin-river/androscoggin-woods/

Events

Stewardship Tour Series: Androscoggin Woods

Join Dale Dorr, member of BTLT’s Stewardship Committee for a guided tour of Androscoggin Woods.  The walk will focus on the natural history of the property, including the birds and flowers of the area. Androscoggin Woods is a 53-acre parcel that protects 10,000 feet of frontage along the Androscoggin River. The property contains significant wildlife habitat between the upland portion, 14 acres of wetlands, and along the nearly two miles of river. Thousands of freshwater mussels and clams can be found along the banks of the Androscoggin, functioning as filter feeders known to both improve water quality and provide a benchmark of the present day water quality of the river.
In the mid-1970s Dale wrote the Maine State Planning Office’s first reports on the Piping Plover, Least Terns and Black Terns. Dale has been a BTLT members since the campaign to protect Crystal Spring Farm in the 90’s. Since retiring he has maintained and monitored trails including Chase Reserve, Androscoggin Woods, and Cathance River Nature Preserve. He is currently the trail monitor for multiple BTLT properties.  In addition to his volunteer work with BTLT, Dale I has been a Maine Fish & Wildlife volunteer working on their 2018-2022 Breeding Bird Atlas in northern Maine and on Mt Katahdin.  He and his wife Nancy believe conservation work is extremely important and are Friends of the Nature Conservancy, members of Midcoast Conservancy and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, in addition to their work supporting BTLT.

The walk should take 1hr.  We suggest wearing sturdy shoes and bringing water, sunscreen and a hat.

This event is free but registration is required!

The BTLT Stewardship Tour Series seeks to introduce the community to land conservation, stewardship, and history by offering guided walks with the Land Trust’s incredible Stewardship Team!

 

Directions: Androscoggin Woods is located along Route 196 in Topsham headed west towards the Lisbon town line. Coming from Exit 31 for Topsham on I-295, head west on Route 196/Lewiston Road for 4.5 miles. When you see W Merrill Road on your right, slow down and look for the Androscoggin Woods property sign on the left side of the road just past the driveway for 1074 Lewiston Road. If you’ve hit Dewey Drive, you’ve gone too far!