Photo by Curt Chipman
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There is no shortage of areas to explore along the Midcoast this spring, but local land trusts offer more than just trails. Each organization has its own focus and schedule of events coming up. Some are out on the trails while others are workshops focused on preparations for spring, like how to start your garden.

You may know the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust from its role in the outdoor farmers market at Crystal Springs Farm in the summer and on the town green in the spring and fall. I am eagerly waiting for the first spring market day on May 5.

Following on the gardening theme, BTLT also puts on the impressive Taking Root Plant Sale on May 26, where you can simultaneously provision your garden with lovely native plants and support the land trust’s efforts.

And, if you don’t have your own garden to tend, but love digging in the dirt, one of the many volunteer opportunities possible with BTLT is to help at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden. The garden is used for educational programs and also provides produce for local food banks, in addition to having private plots for those interested in having their own patch. You can find out more at www.btlt.org/volunteer.

If you’re feeling the need to educate yourself more about your natural environment, you might look into the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust’s spring nature journaling initiative. The goal of this project is to encourage people of all ages to observe nature and to teach them ways to learn from those observations. The kick-off event will be on May 6 with Nat Wheelwright, Bowdoin College professor and co-author of “The Naturalist’s Notebook.”

View all of HHLT’s spring events at www.hhltmaine.org.

In the past year, Midcoast residents and visitors have had to deal with multiple wind storms that knocked out power and high waters that flooded coastal roads. How do we help our towns and neighborhoods deal with these types of threats now and in the future?

Join the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust for a conversation at the Patten Free Library that will focus on answering this question at 6 p.m. May 2 with talks by Eileen Johnson from Bowdoin College and Dwane Hubert from the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

This lecture is the first of two hosted by KELT this spring that focus on how Midcoast communities can overcome and bounce back from changes. On June 6, a second presentation will focus on changes in the natural world and the things people can do to make it easier for the local fish, wildlife, and plants to deal with and adapt to changes.

Preregistration for the lecture is not required, but it is appreciated for help with program planning. For more information or to sign-up, visit www.kennebecestuary.org or call 442-8400.

Moving up the coast to Midcoast Conservancy ­— a partnership of four previously separate land trusts that now cover over 6,200 acres of conserved land from Montville to Newcastle to Westport Island, as well as the Damariscotta Lake and Sheepscot River watersheds — you can join a spring Snack and Chat program at one of the properties, sign up for a vernal pool exploration to learn about the critters emerging in the spring, or learn to bird at one of the instructional programs, just to name a few.

“We want Midcoast Conservancy’s work to reflect the interests and concerns of the people who live and play in the places we care for and we welcome the chance to meet with the people who know them best,” says executive director Jody Jones.

The website is full of great maps and information at www.midcoastconservancy.org.

And, sometimes there are natural happenings that are rare and wonderful enough that these groups partner together. For the sixth annual spring Birding Extravaganza, BTLT, HHLT and KELT will be partnering with Merrymeeting Audubon. The extravaganza is not a one-time event; it is a series offered beginning in April and continuing into June.

Spring is a wonderful time to watch birds, as they are migrating back to Maine from warmer climates. The variety of habitats included in the range of these land trusts offers amazing opportunities to see many different types of birds.
Ted Allen, of Merrymeeting Audubon who leads walks each spring, had the pleasure of seeing Newfoundland Robins during last year’s extravaganza which he described as looking “like robins that have used way too much mascara to the extent that their whole head is black. It apparently got too cold for them up there and they showed up in Brunswick because they remembered the berries growing downtown.”

You never know what you may see.

The walks are in various places from Whiskeag Creek in Bath where you can see migrating geese and ducks, to Crystal Spring Farm where you can watch for bluebirds and bobolinks, and there’s even a classroom session at HHLT’s offices where you can learn about birding in your own backyard.

“Every year this series is an absolute favorite with our community,” said Lee Cataldo, outreach and education coordinator at BTLT. “We truly love this partnership with the neighboring land trusts and MMA. It is such a great way to bring folks from all over the region to new trails and properties, and to get to see some of the amazing migratory birds that pass through the Midcoast.”

There is certainly enough to keep anyone interested in getting outside this spring just as busy as all the plants and animals emerging and scurrying about. Exploring the properties of these land trusts and attending programs is a great way to heighten your appreciation for the natural beauty of Midcoast Maine.