What to Know About our New Strategic Plan 2023-2027

Recently the BTLT Board of Directors adopted a new Five-year Strategic Plan that aims to advance the mission of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust by setting new, vital strategic goals for our programs, enhancing organizational effectiveness and efficiency, and bringing financial sustainability to a new level.  

This plan builds on major accomplishments under our previous Strategic Plan: obtaining valuable feedback from a wide-ranging community survey to help shape future priorities, expanding programs and staff capacity driven by a significant growth in membership and Annual Fund, and strengthening stewardship sustainability by nearly reaching our goal of a two-million dollar endowment fund through Board designations of special donations and bequests. It also reflects our deepened commitment to the inter-related importance of enhancing ecological and community resiliency through conservation and support for local farms, fisheries and sustainable forestry, as well as community engagement and education.  

By their very nature, strategic plans need to be adaptable to changing circumstances. The COVID pandemic was a prime example, requiring reorientation of our core programs for stewardship and community engagement to protect staff and public safety, while encouraging well-managed outdoor activities including our Farmers’ Market, community gardens and access to trails. It also required adroit adjustments in financial management and fundraising. Our success in navigating these challenges and lessons learned have also contributed to shaping the new strategic plan.

Over the past year the BTLT Board and staff held a series of facilitated retreat meetings by Zoom to discuss the challenges and opportunities in our various programs and organizational development. This informed consideration of goals and priorities in all of these areas have been incorporated into the plan.  

The plan also, for the first time, includes statements of core values to guide the work of the Land Trust. These represent an articulation of how the culture of BTLT has evolved in recent years that we felt should be codified going forward. These cover:

  • Collaboration and Cooperation.
  • Effectiveness and Efficiency.
  • Excellence and Integrity.
  • Inclusion and Equity.
  • Financial Responsibility.
  • Innovation.
  • Perseverance.

The plan remains firmly rooted in our core mission of conservation and stewardship and deep commitment to our most established and beloved programs – the Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm, the Tom Settlemire Community Garden, and of course our trail network. At the same time, we are rising to new challenges and seeking higher levels of engagement with the full range of people in our community through partnerships like the New Mainers Garden, Mowitanij Epijij (Wabanaki garden), trail accessibility initiatives, LGBTQIA+ walks, and more.

The Core Directions that are set forth in the new strategic plan are to: 

  • Energetically pursue new lands conservation projects.
  • Increase stewardship capacity further to support new land conservation and ongoing required stewardship. 
  • Expand youth education through increased integration with the Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA).
  • Integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation more explicitly in our lands, stewardship, agriculture, and educational programs, in line with the Climate Action Plan adopted for Maine.
  • Integrate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices into all our work, building on an explicit commitment we made in April 2021 and on activities already underway.
  • Engage in more sustained advocacy efforts on important issues connected with our mission.
  • Continue to build the financial and administrative capacity to support pursuit of these goals.

In the coming year, we will be giving priority focus on the emerging opportunities for new conservation projects, expanding our youth education integration with CREA, and continuing to evolve initiatives already underway with climate change and DEI. As we move forward in pursuing these priority directions, we will provide more detailed information on initiatives and progress in a series of future blog posts.

BTLT In the News: “Your Land: What you can see (and what you can’t) – Earth Day ‘22”

Your Land: What you can see (and what you can’t) – Earth Day ‘22

By Sandy Stott

A cool spring morning, with rising wind. It is the season — post-snow and pre-spring-growth — where what’s been thrown and blown away is easy to spot, and I’ve come to this part of Brunswick Landing with 30+ others to clear the area of this hand- and wind-scattered trash.

At my back, a one-story building, its long windows opening out toward a field, houses the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) and the Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA). Often working partners, these two conservation organizations help preserve and manage lands, bring people to those lands, and promote the spirit that adheres to and rises from those lands. Close by the building lie the plots of the New Mainers Garden, where sign of that spirit will poke soon above ground. CREA has organized today’s clean-up, and their executive director, Caroline Eliot, has welcomed our mixed lot, including a number of families (thank you, parents), and, with expansive gestures, she’s turned us loose to clean.

Armed with a picker-upper and an empty bag, I begin to work through the grasses and small pines above a crushed rock berm at the base of a thin pond. Snagged among the grasses: 2 paper coffee cups (company name withheld), plastic lid and straw, two linked post-it notes (task completed, I assume), white chunk of shipping foam, wad of paper towel, bottle cap, ah, the companion plastic bottle, a once-upon-a-pencil, bags 1, 2 and 3, (plastic). And on.

I near the water. I look back upfield, and I can see no remaining trash. Soon, I’ll join the others as they fan out into the woods and along nearby roads to fill their bags further. By morning’s end we’ll have tens of bags full. But first I turn back to the pond. I know this water. The eastern branch of the Mere Brook watershed, it too needs (and is slated for) cleansing work.

Named Pond B, the water before me has been put to work. Not far upstream sibling Pond A pools behind its own dam, and just above that the waters emerge from twin culverts that run beneath Brunswick Landing. Ponds A and B, and downstream relatives, Pond Area C and Picnic Pond receive and process 80% of the stormwater that runs off the Landing. It’s all headed finally south for Mere Brook, and then, Harpswell Cove.

Such water from a heavily-peopled, asphalt-rich site carries within the chemical equivalents of the thrown and blown trash we’re all gathering today. A full catalogue of this water’s trouble would burst the seams of this column. But before I head into the woods in pursuit of more visible trash, I want to describe briefly how the Ponds Stormwater System works, and how, over time, its waters may be redeemed.

When it rains heavily, run-off water rushes throughout the Landing. That hurried water picks up whatever’s available — grit, pollutants, bits of trash; it all courses through the system, swelling, rising. When that water reaches the ponds, it does what we all do in quieter water — it slows down. And, as it slows, it lays down some of its burden, the grit and particulates, the pollutants; that load sinks to the bottom, over time layering it. The now partially-cleansed water flows on seaward. A modicum of success.

But time’s accumulations finally make these pond-bottoms toxic, no-touch sediments that should be cleaned. Such a remediation is at hand for the Ponds system. The Navy, which put the system in place in the mid-90s, has contracted for roughly $5 million to have these sediments removed this summer and fall. A layer of clean sand will then be laid in place. The Ponds will then go back to work slowing and sorting the stormwater, which, given the successful repurposing of the former Navy Base as Brunswick Landing, will be substantial work.

Here, beside this working water, I’m thinking about the dilemma of our presence. We slough off so much, visible and invisible; how we manage our slough, how we minimize our trail of discard is an essential challenge on this Earth Day and every day.

It’s an hour later, and I’ve followed the deliberate course of my trash picking into a little draw. A tiny, transparent stream runs along its bottom toward Pond area C; on its banks, my favorite spring harbinger spirals up, maroon surprise. Before it becomes a green fan of leaf, Skunk Cabbage begins as twisting eruption from the newly soft ground; it is sculpture of the highest quality. Nearby, mid-stream, lies the thin manilla fin of a sandbar shaped by the running water. The sand’s surface is stirred and I bend to it; there, in a two-way script, go the paw prints of fellow travelers — raccoon (I’m sure), fox (I think), and the plush pads of a rogue cat(?). Here, in this little draw, slowed by my work of finding trash, I’m finding also the prints and presence of fellow animals. We are all of this earth. I owe them this effort to clean the seen and unseen litter of my life.

Sandy Stott is a Brunswick resident, chair of the town’s Conservation Commission, and a member of Brunswick Topsham Land Trust’s Board of Directors. He writes for a variety of publications. He may be reached at

To read the full article online, click here. 


Climate Series Session 5 Recap: Subtraction is Action

On February 3, 2022, as part of its climate series, Cathance River Education Alliance and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust hosted a program on action by ‘subtraction.’ We often think of solving problems by adding something – technology, infrastructure, and so on. This session’s speakers explore how to live more sustainably through subtraction.

For highlights from the session, additional resources on the topic, and how you can take action – CLICK HERE! 

For a full recorded video of the session, CLICK HERE!

Climate Series Session 4 Recap: Do Something!

On Jan. 27, 2022, the Cathance River Education Alliance and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust hosted a program offering just a few examples of the many ways to take action to address climate change.

For highlights from the session, additional resources on the topic, and how you can take action – CLICK HERE! 

For a full recorded video of the session, CLICK HERE!

Climate Series Session 2 Recap: Maine Won’t Wait

On Jan. 13, 2022, the Cathance River Education Alliance and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust hosted a program on Maine’s climate plan – Maine Won’t Wait – as part of our Taking Action on Climate series. Below, you can watch the session, read summary highlights of the program, find resources to learn more, and read suggestions on how to get involved.

For highlights from the session, additional resources on the topic, and how you can take action – CLICK HERE! 

For a full recorded video of the session, CLICK HERE!

Climate Series Session 1 Recap: Climate Inaction and Disinformation

On Jan. 6, 2022, the Cathance River Education Alliance and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust hosted a program on Climate Inaction and Disinformation as part of their Taking Action on Climate series.

This session focused on climate disinformation because of the significant role it has played in delaying meaningful action to address climate change. Our guests were Peter Dugas, a Portland-based citizen activist who co-chairs the Portland chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby – a national nonpartisan advocacy organization working to enact federal policies to address climate change, and Dan Stone, an Associate Professor of Economics at Bowdoin College whose research explores belief formation, political media, and affective polarization.

For highlights from the session, additional resources on the topic, and how you can take action – CLICK HERE! 

For a full recorded video of the session, CLICK HERE!

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!