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BTLT In the News: “A quick tide propels your paddle on the Lower Cathance River in Topsham”

A quick tide propels your paddle on the Lower Cathance River in Topsham

by Ron Chase, Outdoors Contributor, Bangor Daily News

To read the full article online, click here.

“The Cathance River in my hometown of Topsham provides a host of recreational opportunities.

The upper sector offers easy flatwater paddling. In the middle is one of the finest coastal whitewater creek runs in Maine, rated Class III/IV in difficulty by the American Whitewater Association. Below a waterfall at head of tide, several miles of forested wetlands follow to Merrymeeting Bay. There are hiking trails along its banks and fishing and bird watching are popular activities.

The Cathance has a rich history. Early Native Americans lived in settlements along the river and used it for transportation. Cathance or “Kathanis” probably meant “crooked” in the Abenaki language. As anyone who has paddled the river can attest, the name is appropriate as it roams circuitously throughout its 16.4-mile course. In 1715, European settlers built the first sawmill in Maine at the waterfall at head of tide, and it continued to operate well into the 20th century. In recent years, the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust partnered with the Town of Topsham to purchase and create Head of Tide Park next to the waterfall.

In the almost 30 years that my wife, Nancy, and I have lived in Topsham, we had never paddled the lower tidal sector of the Cathance. Both senior citizens, rectifying that omission was overdue. Only a Facebook message was required to convince our retired friends, Diane and John Stokinger, to join us. Since there are boat launch facilities at Head of Tide Park and Mailly Waterfront Park downriver in Bowdoinham, they were the obvious locations to begin and end our voyage.

Strong tidal currents are a factor when planning a paddle on lower Cathance. The tide was scheduled to rise for most of the day we chose for our excursion. Unlike prehistoric Native Americans, we had the option of selecting our direction of travel. Riding the tide upriver from Bowdoinham and finishing at Head of Tide Park was preferable. Ending at Head of Tide Park did have a disadvantage; a steep carry was required next to the waterfall.

Head of Tide Park is an outstanding facility. There is adequate parking, covered picnic tables and a public toilet. Our inspection of the hand-carry boat launch was encouraging; convenient metal stairs led up from the water.

We left a vehicle at the park and drove to Bowdoinham to launch. Flat water kayaks were our boats of choice; however, canoes or sea kayaks would also be suitable……”

To read the full article online, click here. 

 

BTLT In the News: “Land trust conserves Topsham’s Hideaway Farm property”

“Land trust conserves Topsham’s Hideaway Farm property” – Times Record

On June 30, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust conserved the Hideaway Farm property on the Cathance River in Topsham.

According to the trust, the property — previously owned by John Sczymecki — is significant because it abuts the conserved Robert Williams Preserve and will add an additional 1,000 feet of shorefront and 18 acres to this connected, conserved landscape.

To make this conservation effort possible, $138,000 was raised by June 30 to acquire and manage the property. The trust met its goal just before the closing deadline.

The town of Topsham, Merrymeeting Bay Trust, Davis Conservation Fund, John Sage Foundation and 70 individual donors supported the conservation effort.

“The Town of Topsham has a long history of working with BTLT to conserve natural resources and recreational opportunities along the Cathance River,” Topsham Parks and Recreation Director Pam Leduc said. “We were very happy to be able to help make the conservation of the Hideaway Farm property possible by contributing funds from our Open Space In lieu fund.

“These monies were generated from impacts on open space due to development and are set aside to be used for conservation and recreation purposes. We see the Hideaway Farm project as a great example of leveraging these dollars to conserve important habitat and create an opportunity for additional recreational trails and public access to the Cathance River.”

Over the course of 30 years, the trust has conserved more than 1,100 acres and 43,000 feet of riverfront along the Cathance River.

According to the land trust, the Hideaway Farm will enhance conservation efforts along the rivers that flow through Brunswick and Topsham into Merrymeeting Bay, including the Cathance River, around which the trust is trying to conserve the largely undeveloped area.

To view the article online, click here.

Hideaway Farm Property Successfully Conserved!

John Sczymecki, BTLT staff and Vice President at Hideaway Farm closing on 6/30/2022

This morning, we closed on the Hideaway Farm property on the Cathance River in Topsham. This property is especially significant because it abuts the previously conserved Robert Williams Preserve and will add an additional 1,000 feet of shore frontage and 18 acres to this connected, conserved landscape. Protecting the undeveloped shoreline of the Cathance River has been a major focus for us for three decades. In that time, we have conserved more than 1,100 acres and 43,000 feet of river frontage. 

When Hideaway Farm landowner, John Sczymecki, was ready to sell this special parcel, his desire was for it to remain undeveloped. We are grateful to Mr. Sczymecki for working with us to ensure that the property will be conserved to protect its special habitat and outdoor recreational values forever.

To make this conservation effort possible, $138,000 needed to be raised by June 30 to acquire and manage the property. The community responded enthusiastically, and the goal was met just before the closing deadline. Special thanks go out to the Town of Topsham, Merrymeeting Bay Trust, Davis Conservation Fund, John Sage Foundation, and 70 individual donors whose generous support made the conservation of Hideaway Farm possible.

The Topsham Conservation Commission (TCC) was an important partner in this project. The Land Trust and the Commission work together to conserve lands in Topsham that are identified as priorities in the Town’s Comprehensive and Natural Areas Plans. The TCC worked with Pam Leduc, Topsham’s Director of Parks and Recreation, to facilitate a donation to the project from the Town of Topsham. The Land Trust is incredibly grateful to Town staff and the Select Board for their support.

The Town of Topsham has a long history of working with BTLT to conserve natural resources and recreational opportunities along the Cathance River. We were very happy to be able to help make the conservation of the Hideaway Farm property possible by contributing funds from our Open Space In lieu fund. These monies were generated from impacts on open space due to development and are set aside to be used for conservation and recreation purposes. We see the Hideaway Farm project as a great example of leveraging these dollars to conserve important habitat and create an opportunity for additional recreational trails and public access to the Cathance River,” said Leduc.

The rivers that flow through Brunswick and Topsham into Merrymeeting Bay (including the Cathance River) are among BTLT’s highest priority conservation areas, in large part because Merrymeeting Bay has such tremendous ecological, economic, historic, and recreational value to our region. 

This parcel will significantly enhance existing conservation efforts in this important focus area, increasing the forested buffer and associated water quality protection for the Cathance River. The addition of this property to the matrix of conserved lands along the river will create new connections between conserved lands and increase the value of conserved habitat.  The location of this property — across from BTLT’s Tarbox Preserve and abutting the Robert Williams Preserve – is particularly important as we strives to conserve the largely undeveloped river corridor in this area. 

 

 

BTLT In the News: “Connect to past and present at the Cathance River Nature Preserve”

The Bowdoin Orient

Connect to past and present at the Cathance River Nature Preserve
By Jane Olsen (The Bowdoin Orient)

A visit to the Cathance River Nature Preserve in Topsham will allow you to consider the past, the future and how to stay grounded in the present. Only a 10-minute drive from campus, the preserve features miles of riverside trails winding through growing forests. It is unlikely you will cross paths with many others.

When following the directions to the trailhead, you may be confused as to why you’re being guided through the Highlands Retirement Community. At first, I thought I was going to the wrong place because the trailhead is easy to miss and the adjacent parking lot only fits about five cars (if squeezed in at an angle to the road). But the waves of Highlands residents on their daily walks are a reminder that a sense of community extends beyond the spaces of Bowdoin’s physical campus.

The Preserve offers enough trails to explore for hours, but it is equally beautiful if you only have a few minutes to spare. This visit, I decided to walk down the staircase next to the parking lot and continue until I reached the Highland trail, passing through the vernal pools.

From this point, the path to the river is no more than 10 minutes. After a semester of shuffling my feet on the ice across campus, stepping over small patches of mud was a welcome surprise. As I moved closer to the river, an abundance of green moss on the forest floor creeped up on me.

The light flickered brighter in the areas where young saplings have yet to grow, and in areas with white pines thick with age, only a few sunbeams pass through their needles. This forest is not uniform and the path is not straight—mimicking the collision of many generations.

After scanning a QR code posted on one of the saplings, I realize that the code is one of many scattered throughout the trails of the Preserve. The codes are a part of a “Self-Guided Adventure” initiative by the Cathance River Education Alliance, a nonprofit environmental and educational organization. Walking down the trail, this network of codes invites me to pay attention to my surroundings and reminds me of the Alliance’s efforts to further community engagement.

One QR code attributes the diversity of tree ages in the forest to a scattered timeline of logging on the land, explaining that the younger saplings were planted after the most recent logging efforts in the 1990s. The history of logging in Maine seems inextricable from our natural surroundings, reminding visitors to admire and support the conservation efforts from organizations like the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust.

These woods offer physical distance from a busy life and a chance to appreciate connections across generations, whether that be ecologically or socially. When I arrive at the river, the faint sound of the gentle water and a soothing canopy of shade returns me to the present moment. As I watch the swell of the current beside me and after stepping away from a campus buzzing with youth and driving through a community of senior citizens, my sense of place is amplified.

This week, I saw the faces of my professors for the first time since arriving at Bowdoin last year. After two semesters without upperclass students on campus and the presence of Covid-19 constantly on my mind, I have longed for a sense of cross-generational cohesion in the Bowdoin community. With an ease of connection returning to campus, the links that bring us together feel stronger. The Cathance River Nature Preserve offers a chance to explore this sense of interrelation, or to simply enjoy the outdoors.

New Crushed Stone Pathway on Vernal Pool Trail at CRNP

By George Jutras, BTLT Land Steward
The Land Trust’s stewardship team has been hard at work for the last few weeks finishing up a much-needed infrastructure project on the Vernal Pool Trail at Cathance River Nature Preserve! The Vernal Pool Trail connects Rensenbrink Dr to the Highland Trail near the CREA Ecology Center as it runs through forest, over ledge, and by some wetland areas. A long series of old rotten bog bridges were first removed with the help of two Bowdoin College student volunteer groups, then the surface was prepped for the construction of a 120 foot crushed stone pathway. A crushed stone pathway is preferable to bog bridging in this area primarily due to the longevity of the materials. Bog bridges in the soil type found at CRNP can be only expected to last 2-3 years, and the crushed stone pathway should last significantly longer.
The pathway required digging and smoothing of the muddy soil to create a stable surface to build on, then the laying out of a geotextile fabric to help hold the foundational layers together. Next, 6 to 12 inch rocks were carefully placed in a strong jigsaw pattern to hold the ever-shifting path as it lives through future seasons of freeze and thaw cycles. After several layers of this careful stonework (known as rip-rap), a few final layers of gravel were spread on top to fill in gaps and create a smooth walking surface.
A huge THANK YOU to our many incredible stewardship volunteers who truly carried this project – without you we wouldn’t be able to tackle these amazing infrastructure projects!

Full Snow Moon Snowshoe & Nordic Ski with Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA)

We're sorry, but all tickets sales have ended because the event is expired.

  • February 19, 2019
    5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Join CREA for a family friendly snowshoe & ski event under the glowing full snow moon! All ages and ability levels are welcome. *REGISTRATION REQUIRED*

Construction Area at Cathance River Nature Preserve

Attention Hikers

Trails in Construction Area and Parking Changes

Due to construction, the intersection of the Highland Trail, River Access Trail, and Cathance River Trail (West and East) is flagged and off limits in some areas. Please proceed through the openings in the flagging as indicated by the arrows below to continue to the Preserve trails, avoid areas where access is flagged off, and use caution while passing through this area.

During this time hikers are directed to park at the Ecology Center parking instead of Hiker Parking. Please park thoughtfully to ensure that you are far enough off the road and to accommodate as many cars as possible. If the Ecology Center parking area is full, additional parking can be found at the Community Center.

Please contact the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust at 729-7694 if you have any questions and thank you for your patience during this time!

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