Project Scouting for 2010: Maine-Number 5 Bog Access Work

Here comes the beginning of the NFCT’s equivalent of baseball’s Hot Stove Report (the active off-season).  The winter season around the NFCT office is just as intense as the field season, but stewardship activities turn from being covered in mud to buried in project proposals and grant requests.  I’d like to keep the NFCT faithful, (especially those that may be interested in participating in volunteer days and Waterway Work Trips), up to speed on all of the interesting projects that are starting to come together for next year.  So, with that said, this post could be called the Number 5 Bog Blog.

The Nature Conservancy and the Maine Bureau of Public Lands acquired the Number Five Bog parcel from Plum Creek this year, helping to protect a good stretch of the Moose River Bow Trip and NFCT.  Hats off to all the organizations that made this happen!

This stretch of trail can be found on NFCT Map 10 if anyone wants to see exactly where it fits in.

This land was purchased with Land for Maine’s Future Funds, a certain percentage of which is made available for access work.  I felt this was a great opportunity to see a new part of the trail and see if we could pull some projects together.  My friend Jeff McCabe, who recently has become a House Representative in Maine and lives in Skowhegan joined me.  Jeff was very excited to get out on the Moose River and experience the recently protected Number Five Bog, I may have forgotten to tell him about all of the pictures and measurements.

As we are working our way towards the equinox, and day light is a scarce commodity, we had to plan accordingly.  In order to fit the whole trip into one day of paddling we camped out at the end of Spencer Rips Road.  We set up camp right on the old bridge abutment, we swear we saw a UFO upon arrival, but it could have been the roar of the rips feeding our imaginations (I hope.)  The next day we got up bright and early, enjoying the luxury of a healthy tailgate we set up shop and made some percolated coffee and breakfast sandwiches, which we thought was the only way we could get a 14 mile paddle in with all the measuring that we had to do.

This stretch of trail exemplifies the Number Five Bog.  The river slows up a bit as the wetland waters seep into it and the river’s current merges with Attean Pond.  There are little inlets to explore that bring you closer to the bog itself, and there is the constant feel that a moose would be just around the corner.  If the water level is right, the Spencer Rips and the Attean Falls shoots can be a blast.  We got out on Attean Pond just as a front was coming through and the strength of the winds were just shy of making the second half of our trip really difficult.  We jibbed our way across the pond aiming for points and islands, ultimately making it to the take-out just before the rail road trestle as the sun was tucking behind the hills and mountains. 

What we found at Spencer Rips and Attean Falls were some tough water to land transition points.  Steep banks made of loose clay/sand soil that could use stone step staircases and log ladders.  There is also a bit of campsite work; replacing boards on picnic tables and building an outhouse;  all valuable projects.  The access work will help cut down on erosion and make the sites more user-friendly and safe.  The next step is to sit down with the BPL manager for this area of Maine and discuss how this work fits into the parcels management plan and how we can work together to get the work done.  I’ll keep everyone posted on the developments, but stay tuned for a potential Waterway Work Trip in this area in the  future,  (did I mention it is absolutely beautiful there?)

Much thanks to my friend Jeff.  After our trip, even with all the measuring, he decided that he would adopt this segment of trail with his family.  It’s great to see that Jeff is not only fighting for the people and environment of Maine at the State House, but is also willing to get  his hands dirty in the woods.  Great example, Jeff!

If anyone is interested in adopting a segment of the NFCT please be in touch.  I’ll be posting more about our Trail Maintainer program in the future, but rest assured, we’ve got some exciting things happening!

Till next time, Happy New Years everyone!!!!!!