Under our "Library" tab, you will find a new document available for download called "Stream Crossing Survey of the Scarborough Marsh Watershed". This survey was put together by Friends of Scarborough Marsh board member Steve Pinette. The compiled data from this report will be used by the Friends of Scarborough Marsh to help guide future efforts related to safeguarding and improving the ecologic health of the Marsh.
Join the Friends of Scarborough Marsh, in conjunction with the Maine Audubon, on Saturday, October 28th for the fall clean up of the Marsh! Volunteers encouraged and warmly welcomed! We are partnering this year with Project G.R.A.C.E to collect nonperishable food items, as well as store gift cards, at the clean up. Bring some friends along from 9 to noon, we hope to see you there!
Throughout the summer, with funding from FOSM and support from the Eastern Trail Alliance, we helped put into action an information table, staffed with interns from the Maine Audubon, along the Eastern Trail Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Check out this article posted in the Scarborough Leader to learn more!
SCARBOROUGH MARSH LECTURE SERIES
2017 – 2018
The Friends of Scarborough Marsh (FOSM) is pleased to launch its inaugural 2017 – 2018 SCARBOROUGH MARSH LECTURE SERIES. The monthly series has been crafted to deliver a range of interesting lectures on topics that pertain to the Scarborough Marsh and its environs—ecology, geology, function (e.g., in art, economy, natural resource infrastructure, recreation), history, vulnerability. This season’s lectures cover subjects ranging from sea-level rise and oyster aquaculture to marsh birds and human history. You will come away from each lecture with greater appreciation for Maine’s largest salt marsh and its vital place in our society and ecosystem.
Dr. Peter Slovinsky with the Maine Geological Survey will present the September 2017 lecture
Sea level Rise and the Scarborough Marsh
September 27, 2017
7:00 – 8:00 PM
Cabela’s Scarborough, Maine Store (100 Cabela’s Blvd.)
(follow the store signs to the lecture hall)
FOSM is very grateful to Cabela’s of Scarborough for hosting this month’s lecture.
Now that Summerfest has passed, and all of the prize winners have been contacted- here is a copy of the answers for our fun quiz about the marsh!
Thank you to all of the wonderful Volunteers, Quiz Participants, and Friends of the Marsh for making our Summerfest a successful one! Below is the article that was in the Leader, listing off our wonderful winners that took our quiz! Even with the rain delay, we still made it to Summerfest and drew names. Look for the quiz answers under our News & Updates tab on the site! Again, we just wanted to thank everyone involved!
The MDIFW is a wonderful friend of the Marsh, and has reached out to us asking to put the word out for volunteers to help their partners at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge transplant some plants! If you don't mind getting your hands a little dirty, and have some spare time on September 16th, volunteer with us at the Scarborough Marsh Wildlife Management Area for the day. Your assistance will be needed to help >3000 plants be popped into pre-drilled holes in the ground. These will then be grown to strengthen that habitat as part of an expected relocation effort to help New England Cottontails once again thrive in our area! Parking will be at the Gervais barn on Manson Libby Road. Please RSVP to Brad so he can contact you if there will be a rain delay! We hope to see you there!
Where: Gervais Barn on Manson Libby Road across from Napa
When: September 16th at 8:30am *RAIN DATE Sept. 17th
RSVP: To Brad Zitske at Brad.Zitske@maine.gov
You’ve driven or ridden across it countless times. It’s an ice-covered wonderland in winter and a lush, watery plain in summer. But what else do you know about our beloved Scarborough Marsh? Test your knowledge and submit your responses to 10 of the following questions to register for an opportunity to win some prizes. Search our site for helpful hints to the answers! Submit your completed quiz, along with name and contact information to our email at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail your responses in to: FOSM Marsh Quiz, P.O. Box 7049, Scarborough, ME 04070 A copy of the quiz can be also be found in the Scarborough Leader!
***Responses must be received by August 17, 2017. Prize drawings will take place at Scarborough SUMMERFEST, Friday evening, August 18, and all answers will be revealed! Entrants are eligible for one prize only.
DOWNLOAD QUIZ HERE
At roughly 3,000 acres, Scarborough Marsh is the largest salt marsh in Maine, and one of the largest in New England. It’s classified as a post-glacial (that is, after the glaciers melted over 10,000 years ago) back-barrier salt marsh formed behind the protective barrier beach at Pine Point and the rocky headland of Prouts Neck. Most of the Marsh is owned by the State of Maine and managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW). State and federal environmental laws further protect it from development and other forms of human encroachment. But, the health of its saltmarsh ecosystem also depends on the influx of water and nutrients from the five major rivers (Dunstan River, Libby River, Nonesuch River, Scarborough River and Jones Creek) and smaller streams that collect water from the upland regions of the 38,000-acres Scarborough Marsh Watershed. Increase in land development and an extensive system of roads threaten both the quality and quantity of these waters.
Human development of the Marsh began in Colonial times, when the Marsh served as a rich source of hay and pasture for livestock. Drainage ditches and hay roads are still visible on the marsh plain, especially in late winter and early spring when marsh vegetation is tamped down. In fact, a portion of the Marsh north of the Eastern Trail was once dammed (using a tide gate) to isolate the Dunstan Marsh area from the sea to promote land drainage and hay cultivation. During that period (until the early 1950s), trees and other upland plants grew in isolated portions of the marsh where they would not grow today.
More recently, the Marsh has become a recreation mecca for birders, fishers, paddlers and duck hunters. A 2010 summer bird survey identified 71 bird species in the Marsh, including Nelson’s Sparrows, two species of Egret, three species of Heron, Belted Kingfishers, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Herring Gulls. Several of these bird species (including gulls, egrets, yellow-legs and herons) are frequently spotted standing around pools on the marsh plain, peering at the water surface, looking for small fish to eat. These brackish water pools, called pannes, typically contain small fish, such as Stickleback and Mummichug. Larger fish, such as Striped Bass, are found in the deeper river channels. In summer 2012, a walker along the Eastern Trail spotted a small Sand Shark foraging for baitfish in the upper part of the Scarborough River!
Want to learn more about the Marsh? Get out there and observe it—during all seasons. You can start by walking across it on the Eastern Trail, between Pine Point and Black Point Roads. Or, you can visit Maine Audubon’s Scarborough Marsh Nature Center on your way to Pine Point Beach. There, you can listen to Audubon staff explain the Marsh’s intricate ecologic web, or view their displays of marsh mammals. On the Nature Center’s back deck, just south of the Center’s canoe/kayak launch ramp, check out a map of the marsh. This is also a good place to launch your canoe to paddle the rivers and creeks that cross-cut the marsh. It’s best to paddle at high tide; otherwise, you’ll be peering at the muddy river banks, without much of a view. If you decide to launch here, you’ll start your paddle on Dunstan River, before crossing under Eastern Trail and joining the Scarborough River.
You can access the lower portion of the Scarborough River by launching from Seavey’s Landing or Ferry Beach; or, you can start at the Town Landing at Pine Point (be careful, there’s more boat traffic here). These locations also provide access to the lower reaches of Libby River, just west of Black Point Road. The Clay Pits boat launch is probably the best place to access the Nonesuch River, unless you live near the river and have your own launch point. Troll a fishing lure while you paddle, and you might catch a Striper (Striped Bass).
If you have time, interest and energy, get involved with the Friends of Scarborough Marsh (FOSM). FOSM strives to help ensure the health of the Marsh for future generations by promoting programs that educate area residents about its importance as part of a vast environmental and recreational infrastructure. We are also involved in efforts to restore fringe areas of the Marsh overrun by invasive plants, such as Phragmites. While attractive, these intruders wreak havoc on the salt-marsh ecosystem, and interventions are critical to stemming their advance and restoring degraded areas back to salt-marsh flora. With partner organizations, such as Scarborough Land Trust, Maine Audubon, and Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, FOSM has worked with local property owners to conserve and protect critical marsh habitat along the edges of the Marsh.
Merroir: the mirror of our actions
It’s oyster tour season once again on my small farm and I find myself talking about the concept of “merroir” a lot. Never mind the implied French accent, we should all be using the word! Merroir conveys an important concept that not only helps us understand why oysters along the East Coast taste different from one place to another. It also makes us mindful of the sensitivity of marine life to seemingly minor changes in the ecosystem. As we turn to planting gardens, tending lawns and launching boats, we should all take heed.
With its root “mer,” the French for “sea,” merroir refers to the specificity of the marine environment in which an oyster is grown, and its impact on the oyster itself. The expression is borrowed from vintners who use “terroir” to refer to the impact of the land (“terre,” in French) in which grapes are grown on the taste of the wine. This explains why a chardonnay grape grown in the relatively cold, overcast, and mineral soil of Burgundy produces a very different wine than a chardonnay grape grown in sunny California.
With few exceptions, oyster farmers on the Eastern seaboard grow Crassostrea virginica, also referred to as the “Virginica,” “Eastern,” and “American” oyster. These are direct descendants of the oysters shucked along the Damariscotta River thousands of years ago, and feasted on by early European settlers of Manhattan.
What distinguishes a Pemaquid oyster from a Fisher Island oyster and an Apalachicola oyster—and they are, oh, so different—is the impact of the local environment. The merroir.
Even within the boundaries of my own small farm, the idea of “merroir” plays out in dramatic ways even I have trouble getting my head around. The two oysters pictured above—one green, one white—are the same species and from the same hatchery. But they grew at different depths in the water column, the green oysters on the riverbed while the white oysters were suspended in gear. That small difference of just a few feet at low tide has an extraordinary impact on their color, texture, and taste.
If a few feet in the water column makes such a vivid difference, imagine the effect on merroir and our oysters when we start pouring fertilizer and pesticides into our environment, or dumping trash and human waste overboard our boats!
Books like American Catch and The Big Oyster remind us how careless human waste disposal destroyed the massive oyster beds of the New York Harbor at the turn of the century and turned our oyster-loving (and oyster-exporting) nation into a nation of Thai shrimp eaters (and importers).
Ironically, pollution killed off one of nature’s best pollution remedies. Filtering up to 50 gallons of water a day as they eat, oysters absorb toxins and excess algae, keeping the water clean and oxygen levels balanced for other marine life. They also prevent erosion and form barriers to storm surge. Oysters can truly help save the planet, if we let them.
Fortunately, oysters are being summoned back in reseeding and restoration projects aimed to clean up once vibrant, plentiful harbors like New York Harbor.
It’s easy to think of polluted waters as a New York problem, but miles of Maine’s coastline are also closed to shellfish harvesting due to fecal contamination.
We can make a difference. Both the Biddeford and Scarborough Shellfish Conservation Groups, entities that manage local clamming, have, with the support state agencies, reopened waterways to shellfish harvesting simply by pinpointing leaky septic systems and outhouses and repairing them.
Each time this resulted not just in enhanced opportunities for shellfish harvesters to make a living, but also in cleaner water and less risk of excessive algae blooms, which can in extreme cases lead to dead zones barren of all sea life.
Nobody is too far from the ocean to be exempt: The Gulf of Maine watershed extends into Canada. So when you plant your garden, tend your yard or launch your boat this year, think of the oyster. Maine shellfish lovers present and future will thank you. And so will the sea itself.
Abigail Carroll, Founder of Nonesuch Oysters, serves on the Biddeford Shellfish Conservation Committee and the board of Friends of Scarborough Marsh.
"GAP TRACKS" PROJECT TO HELP SCIENTISTS ASSESS WILDLIFE USE OF EASTERN TRAIL in the NONESUCH RIVER CORRIDOR
Friends of Scarborough Marsh board member and UNE professor, Dr. Noah Perlut, has launched a new study, GAP Tracks Project, to document the wildlife community along the "GAP" section of the Eastern Trail currently under construction in the Nonesuch River area of the Scarborough Marsh.
"The digital trail cameras, which went online in late February this year, will help scientists evaluate the wildlife community before, during, and after construction of the trail segment," said FOSM president, Stephanie Smith. "We're very pleased to be one of the sponsors of this study, and we're looking forward to seeing the data as the study progresses."
Wildlife cameras have already captured several glimpses of animals in the area, including opossum, gray fox, and turkeys. Videos are posted to FaceBook at FB.me/GapTracks and details about the GAP Tracks project may be found online at blog.une.edu/perlutlab/.
Students at UNE and Scarborough High School will be working with Dr. Perlut to evaluate the data. Photos will be scored to determine which are the best ones, and students will identify what animals were present and pose questions about wildlife and human use of the trail.
The public is invited to follow the research project online, and encouraged to add comments and questions, too. "It's a wonderful opportunity for people to learn more about this area of the marsh," said Smith, "and the more who tune in to watch what the cameras are seeing, the better."
The Perlut Lab focuses on how human habitat management effects the ecology and evolution of diverse species. "This section being monitored is highly relevant to the ecology of Scarborough Marsh because it includes important headwaters of the Nonesuch River," explains Dr. Perlut, "and its adjacent forest serves as a movement corridor for mammals, amphibians and birds."
This study is jointly funded by the Friends of Scarborough Marsh and the University of New England, in partnership with the Eastern Trail Alliance, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Town of Scarborough.
Our friends at the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center are looking for volunteers to lead nature explorations Monday through Friday for groups of all ages at the nature center. No experience is needed, just a love of nature and a desire to share it with others. Audubon will provide training in marsh ecology and leading groups. Trainings will occur Wednesday, April 26, 2017 (9:30 – noon) and Thursday April 27, 2017. For more info email email@example.com or call Linda Woodard at 883-5100.
A couple of years ago the Leader wrote a great article about the nature center's walks program. >> Read more about it here...
As global temperatures rise, increasing the likelihood of more unpredictable weather patterns and severe tides, a major blizzard or flood could inundate low-lying coastal land. For a coastal community such as Scarborough, which is home to the largest contiguous marsh system in the state. The impact on Scarborough Marsh can be seen on the Maine Geological Survey’s interactive map. The MGS map shows the effects of rising sea levels across coastal areas of the state, using measurements from the highest tide of 2015, and factoring in increases of 1 to 6 feet based on storm-surge scenarios.
The impact of sea level rise on property and roads is expected to be considerable as well. Peter Slovinsky, a marine geologist with the Maine Geological Survey and current chair of the Scarborough Conservation Commission, believes adopting a plan of action is not an option, it’s a necessity. >>Read more in the Leader / >> Read more in the Forecaster
Related story in the Bangor Daily News, Crab invasion Heralds Sea Level Rise
Conserve, protect, restore, and enhance the Scarborough Marsh.