Category Archives: blog

Annual Meeting and Celebration

Sunday, September 17th @5pm
Randall Orchards, Standish

We hope you will join us for our annual meeting and celebration at Randall Orchards. Come early to pick apples and enjoy the sweeping views of this beautiful 500-acre forever conserved farm and forest at Randall Orchards. The social time will begin at 5pm and the meeting will begin at 5:45pm. We will have slideshow highlights from the past year, share priorities for the coming year, and have member votes. Please join us to enjoy some homemade pie, cider from the orchard, and great company. The event is free and an RSVP is required. Click here to RSVP.

Guided Hike at Tannery Brook

Saturday, September 16th @10am
Tannery Brook, Gorham

What kind of tree is that? Is that an invasive plant? We’ll answer these and other questions during our hike at Tannery Brook. Join our land trust, the Gorham Conservation Commission, and Gorham Adult Education as we learn about native and non-native plants found in Gorham. You’ll also see and learn the history of the old dam at Tannery Brook. Those that want to lend a helping hand can bring hand pruners to help widen the trails while we explore. Trails are easy to moderate on this walk which will be roughly 1.5 miles long. Open to all ages. The event is free and an RSVP is required. Click here to RSVP.

Paddling the Presumpscot River

Saturday August 5th @10am
Hawkes Preserve, Gorham

Jump in a canoe or kayak to explore the nature and history of the Hawkes Preserve. This two hour event will be led by geographer and hydrologist Maggie Burns who works for FB Environmental, and joined by the authors of the new book, “Paddling Southern Maine: Day Trips for Recreational Kayakers, Canoers, and SUPers” Kimberlee Bennett and Sandy Moore.

Mushroom Discovery Walk


Photo Credit Gary Conover

Saturday July 15th @10am
Black Brook Preserve, Windham

Join us to explore the diversity of mushrooms in the Presumpscot region. Learn about the different types of mushroom, how local and seasonal conditions determine species, and which common mushrooms are edible. This two hour walk will be led by Alan Seamans of the Maine
Mycological Association.The event is free, but space is limited.

Spring Run: Fish Migration Programs

Due to popular demand we have two fish migration programs this spring:

Saturday May 27th @10am
Mill Brook Preserve, Westbrook

Join us to learn about and see alewives migrating up the Mill Brook in their annual journey from the ocean to Highland Lake. This two hour event will be led by a local alewife expert. The event is free, but space is limited.

Saturday June 3rd @10am
Mill Brook Preserve, Westbrook

Join us to learn about and see alewives migrating up the Mill Brook in their annual journey from the ocean to Highland Lake. This two hour event will be led by alewife experts Dr. Karen Wilson and Dr. Theo Willis from the University of Southern Maine Environmental Science and Policy Department.

Volunteer Opportunity: Water Quality Monitoring

Water Quality Monitoring Volunteers Neededmatt-water-testing

Volunteers collect water samples to help us keep the waters in our region clean. Your efforts will build on over 20 years of work by the Presumpscot River Watch (now a program of our land trust) collecting data on dissolved oxygen and bacteria throughout the Presumpscot River Watershed. These are all key indicators of the health of aquatic ecosystems for both animals and humans.
The sampling season begins with a training led by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on Saturday, May 6th hosted by our partners the University of Southern Maine Environmental Science and Policy Department at the Gorham campus.

There are then 10 sampling days, every other Saturday starting in late May. Each sampling day will generally go from 7:30 – 10:30 am. We ask that volunteers be available for at least half of the sampling days, listed below:
– Sat, May 20, Sat, June 3, Sat, June 17, Sat, July 1, Sat, July 15, Sat, July 29, Sat, Aug 12, Sat, Aug 26, Sat, Sep 9, Sat, Sep 23. Here is a map of the 2017 sample sites and their shorthand names.

The 2017 volunteer season has begun. If you are interested in volunteering in 2018 please check back in spring of 2018. If you have additional questions or would like more information, please contact Stewardship and Outreach Coordinator Toby Jacobs at

2017 Fish Migration Count – Volunteer Opportunity

Volunteers are needed to help steward and monitor the alewife migration from Casco Bay up the Presumpscot River, through Mill Brook, and into Highland Lake. The alewife reproduce in Highland Lake and then migrate back out to the ocean. This is the largest and most productive alewife run in Casco Bay.

WHEN: Volunteers are needed to count the spring fish migration, which is typically May to mid-June. Count slots are 30-minutes long during 4 designated time slots each day. Great bird and other wildlife activity can be seen while counting.

WHERE: Westbrook at the Highland/Mill Brook Dam.

HOW: Visually count fish, a short training will be provided.

WHO: The USM Environmental Science and Policy Department is coordinating the project and the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust is a partner. To volunteer contact


It is a simple and exciting way to volunteer while getting outside and enjoying the local environment.

This May will be the fourth season the USM Environmental Science and Policy Department is coordinating the counting of the alewife (also called river herring) from Casco Bay to reach their spawning habitat at Highland Lake.

Alewife live in the ocean and spawn in freshwater systems and are an important secondary consumer in the Gulf of Maine contributing to the local economy and biodiversity along the Maine coast.

Volunteer fish counts are important for the Maine Department of Marine Resources and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to help estimate the total population.

Quick Facts
Requirements Visual counting of river herring
Time commitment 4 count slots per day from 7-10:00am, 10-1:00pm, 1-4:00pm and 4-7:00pm. Count any 30-minutes during each slot.
Number of Counts 4 counts per day for about 30 days (about 120 total)
Program Time span Early May to mid-June (actual fish migration dates can vary)
Location Highland Lake Dam, Highland Lake, Duck Pond Road, Westbrook, Maine
Sign-up Contact for more information.
Click here to sign up for a volunteer shift.

See Handbook below with more information



Highland Lake Fish Monitoring Volunteer Handbook 

Park your vehicle along the side of Duck Pond Road, Westbrook, Maine (photo above). Watch for passing traffic while getting out of your car and crossing the street.

parking for fish counting

Walk to the site by crossing the bridge, then toward the brown house, and then to the left by walking up the forest stands edge.  Please see the next photograph and description.

walk in to fish counting

Follow the forest stands edge until you see yellow cones that are marking the mini wooden bridge. The mini wooden bridge has some flex to it so please be careful and respectful for your own safety. Please see next photograph and description.

walk in to fish counting 2

Continue along the red arrow until you see the red and black sign. Please see the next photograph and description.

walk in to fish counting 3

Stop just before the red and black danger sign and look to the right, you’ll see an aluminum boat upside down. Underneath the boat you will see a blue-lidded clear tub with some paperwork in it. Go up to the boat and pull out the tub from beneath the boat. Please see next photograph and description.

fish counting supplies

Walk up to the box and slide it from underneath the boat, open it and you will see a stack of papers. There are 3 different documents you will find: 1) the directions to follow while monitoring alewife 2) the master time and data log sheet 3) the personal daily data log sheet. Clip the documents to the clipboard. There should also be a clicker counter in the tub as well. If there is no clicker please use a tallying system until a clicker is available.  Next, bring these items to the alewife monitoring site that is marked by the tip of the red arrow on the next photograph.

fish counting documents 1

Above you can see the site where you count alewife that have reached the top of the fish ladder and are likely going to enter Highland Lake. At the site you will need to have the 3 pages and clipboard earlier mentioned.

fish counting spot

The pictures of migrating alewife shown below are to help familiarize you with what you might see at the monitoring site.

fish counting fish at dam 1

fish counting fish at dam 2


End of Winter Stargazing

Saturday March 18th
Pringle Wildlife Preserve, Windham

Join us at the Pringle Wildlife Preserve to see the stars and learn about constellations, astronomy, and celestial navigation as well as community issues like light pollution. The Observation Deck at Pringle is a great viewing platform and is guaranteed to keep our feet dry whatever the March weather decides to do.