Beaver Deceivers to Protect Deering Pond

By Kevin McKeon

On a recent warm November day, as part of its directives of preserving special places and maintaining critical habitats, Mousam Way Land Trust worked with the Sanford Trails Committee and a generous donor to complete a project along Sanford’s Rail Trail.

Spring time typically brings snow melt and spring rains, causing water runoff; with that, beaver get busy repairing and building up their dams to hold back, or impound, water for summer storage. This creates the habitat that the beaver need to survive. This activity has often resulted in the water at Deering Pond to rise to a level where overflow has caused erosion to wash out a section of Sanford’s Rail Trail.

In an effort to mitigate this costly issue, Skip Lisle was contracted this past summer to install a flow device of his own design, called a “Beaver Deceiver,” at the pond’s outlet, where culverts were installed years ago and where beaver have since been active in damming the culverts, greatly slowing the outlet flow and causing the erosion. This particular Beaver Deceiver installation will act to protect the culverts from becoming dammed, while also allowing the beaver to impound enough water for the pond to maintain its traditional healthy habitat. Concurrent with this install, the Rail Trail was re-engineered to a higher level at the area subject to erosion, and a secondary overflow culvert installed.

Realizing this new culvert would attract beaver damming activity, Skip returned months later and donated his time, his materials, and most importantly, his expertise in beaver knowledge, and installed another Beaver Deceiver to protect this new culvert. Working with volunteers from the Trust and Committee, Skip has helped to ensure that the Rail Trail remains intact for the community’s use, that the resident beaver population will continue their instinctive water-based activities, and that Deering Pond will be maintained at a biologically healthy level in support of the myriad of flora and fauna within the pond’s surrounding landscape.

Skip has solved beaver damming issues world-wide with his devices, which are site-specific and custom made for each site’s particular issues. He’s been doing this for decades, applying the knowledge gained over the years to allow beaver, a “keystone species” to build and maintain their valuable habitat while mitigating the damage that can be caused by uncontrolled water-level rises affecting human properties. Mousam Way Land Trust thanks Skip for sharing his expertise, hard work, and leadership in safeguarding the hundreds of beaver habitats his flow devices have enhanced.

Related video, courtesy Sarah Schnell, Studio Manager, WSSR-TV:

Browning Family Reserve Dedication

Gail Browning was honored on a recent Saturday morning for her generous donation of over 26 acres of land along High Street in Sanford. Mousam Way Land Trust gratefully accepted this wonderful property, which abuts the Trust’s Fawcett-Goodwin Reserve. There’s now a tract of over 45 acres of forest and meadow, with walking trails being sited and blazed—all just a stone’s throw from Sanford’s urban area. 

The Browning Family Reserve sits atop the highest point of High Street, where Gail and her late husband Carl had planned earlier in their lives to build their home. The family would spend time picking up brush, making the area look pretty, and exploring the woods. Life got busy, time passed and the Brownings made their home elsewhere. But the family always loved this land, so Gail decided to keep it forever in woods and meadow—dedicated to the Family and the memory of Carl. She said, “Carl would be very happy with this Reserve”. 

Bud Johnston, President of the Trust, said while leading a Nature Walk, that Sanford Mills, a previous owner in the early 1900’s and active in shipping, probably lumbered pine to supply its sawmill for making shipping crates. Then LaValley Lumber’s ownership transformed the area into a northern hardwood forest. The power line corridor sits in the Reserve’s center, adding valuable forest edge wildlife habitat; Raptors are often seen perching here, awaiting unsuspecting prey to emerge from the thick growth. 

Bud went on to say that the educational and recreational possibilities include bird and wildlife watching, rare species management, interpretive trails. The wetland, forest edge, and mixed forest habitats are able to support a wide range of  wildlife; some rare species have already been seen. The parking area at Fawcett-Goodwin currently acts as the trailhead for both of these wonderful properties. Thanks to Gail and the Browning family, this area will be enjoyed for generations.

Lowd Environmental Reserve dedication

On a recent warm August morning, a dedication ceremony for The Lowd Environmental Reserve was hosted by directors of Mousam Way Land Trust. Rebecca Legro and husband Donald unveiled the road side sign as she and her family were honored for the donation of 14 acres of land on Oak Street in Springvale, just ½ mile from Springvale Square. Dr. Bud Johnston, Trust President, gave a short geologic history of the area along with the various valuable habitats held within the Reserve, after which Rebecca gave her personal reflections of her love of the land and the enjoyment she, her family, and childhood friends enjoyed over the years. 

A short trail walk over recently added footbridges and a boardwalk was led by Bud, as he highlighted the various geologic and botanical areas. Rebecca shared more of her recollections of playing in her “back yard”. Ice cream, cookies, and drinks were then enjoyed by all. 

Mousam Way Land Trust, the local community, and all those who enjoy nature and the occasional short quiet walk will be forever thankful for Rebecca’s thoughtful and generous contribution to the health and safety of the various species—including humans!—within and surrounding the Lowd Environmental Reserve. 

Walmart cybergrant awarded to trust

Sanford-Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust

July 9, 2021

Sanford-Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust is happy to announce that it has been awarded a Walmart Community Grant Program Cybergrant from its Sanford’s store. This grant will help to install a watering system for the Sanford Community Garden extension project, a project effectively doubling the number of the Garden’s raised beds to over 50. 

The Garden, a part of the David and Linda Pence Community Ecology Center, is located within the 110 acre McKeon Environmental Reserve in Springvale. This project, a joint effort with the University of Maine Extension’s York County Master Gardener Volunteer program, helps the community gardeners with any issues that crop up during the growing season—such as pest, weed, and disease control; soil testing methods and interpretation; various raised bed growing practices; fertilization options; and healthful gardening practices. 

Gardeners grow food in their 4’ x 12’ raised beds for themselves, for various organizations, and for local food pantries. Tools, fertilizers, disease and pest control sprays are all provided for this organic gardening project. A produce washing sink, table and chairs, outdoor restroom, and 2 ½ miles of non-motorized trails are other amenities available.   

The Trust is grateful for Walmart’s generosity, its thoughtful employees, and their ongoing support for the Trust’s community service, outreach programs, and conservation efforts. 

Garden to Forest Tour with Three Rivers Land Trust

A public event to highlight the Sanford Community Forest Project and the future of collaborations between neighbors!

Three Rivers Land Trust and Mousam Way Land Trust invite friends and neighbors to a walk through the McKeon Reserve and to the proposed Sanford Community Forest on Sunday, July 11 at 10 AM. We will meet at the Community Garden on Blanchard Rd (look for the sign near 246 Blanchard Rd.), which is part of the McKeon Reserve. The plan of the event includes a 3/4 mile stroll through the McKeon Reserve, a pause beside the Branch River for refreshments, socializing, and a short presentation about the area’s future vision, followed by a Q&A period. After the presentation, there will be an optional half-hour excursion into the Sanford Community Forest, located just across the Rail Trail. Rides to the presentation area can be arranged for those who cannot make the hike through McKeon Reserve – please contact us at the information below for more information. In total, the event is planned to run from 10am to about 11:30, or to 12:00 with the optional Community Forest hike. 

Three Rivers has raised over 92% of the funds needed to conserve the Sanford Community Forest, and aims to raise the rest by December 2021. We thank the Mousam Way Land Trust for their invitation to create a joint event! To RSVP for the ‘Community Garden to Community Forest’ event, please get in touch with Ruth Gutman at (207) 370-4191 or, or visit our website at, where you will find a sign-up form and more information about the featured project.


Common Snapping Turtle

Ranging from southeastern Canada to northeastern South America, the common snapping turtle is one four species of snapping turtles, all of witch live only in the Americas. In Canada, anthropogenic activities have resulted in their listed as a Species of Special Concern under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007; and listed as Special Concern under the federal Species at Risk Act. The species has also been designated as a Specially Protected Reptile under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. 

A female snapper will begin to breed when its carapace, or hard outer shell, reaches 8”; this is at about 15 years old. Her nest is dug in sandy soil during late May to June to hold about 30-50 eggs. These nests are predated by crows, fox, mink, raccoons and skunks. From nests that go unnoticed will emerge the ¾” long hatchlings, dashing towards water, when they become prey to other hungry critters and many birds. Those that make it to the water become tasty morsels for bullfrogs, snakes, fish, otter, mink, and various wading waterfowl. So the mortality rate of these young snappers is very high, resulting in a very low reproductive success rate for every nest. The very few lucky ones that manage to reach a mature 10 to 35 pounds could live another 100 years, becoming apex predators themselves. One huge wild snapper topped 75 pounds, and a captive one reached 86 pounds. 

Living in shallow waters of wide, muddy streams and ponds, they’ll often warm their cold-blooded bodies by basking near the surface, or sometimes on logs or rocks jutting out of the water. This basking allows quicker body movements resulting in more efficient foraging activities, as they prey upon fish, frogs, snakes, small birds—just about anything they can swallow along with various plants. They’ll sometimes eat just once a year, if they get a sizable fish! They tend to be a bit combative out of water, but in water are rather skittish, preferring to hide in the mud. 

They’ll often return to the same area for nesting, sometimes following a stream bed or ephemeral stream for thousands of yards; There’s some evidence that they use the earth’s magnetic fields for navigation. Sandy road beds make attractive sites: open and sunny, easy digging, well drained. The temperature of the incubating eggs determine the eventual sex of the hatchlings. Within the clutch, the central eggs will more likely produce males. In cold climates, the hatchlings often overwinter in a hibernative state within the nest, emerging in the late spring.  

Contrary to popular thinking, the bite of a snapper generates only about ½ the force of ours! The alligator snapper, however, will take off a finger or two; but you’ll need to go to below southern Kentucky to experience that!

Kennebunk Savings Bank Volunteers Help Build Safe Trails at Lowd Reserve

On an unusually warm May morning, thoughtful folks from Kennebunk Savings Bank volunteered alongside Sanford Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust directors to complete the installations of two footbridges and a boardwalk at the Trust’s latest acquisition—a 16 acre reserve donated by Mrs. Rebecca Legro. Located just a half mile up Oak Street from Springvale square, the Lowd Environmental Reserve, named after Mrs. Legro’s family, has footpaths that make for a pleasant and easy walk. The new crossings will keep feet dry and safe while passing over a few wet areas along newly created trails that offer views of huge oaks, stone walls, a very small but peaceful upland meadow, and an interesting old horse grave that’s surrounded by the last items that the team of horses hauled—the stones that mark their resting place, buried with their harnesses, succumbing to old age. A huge pine has grown from the center of their tombs, standing sentinel for the beasts’ memorial of the hard woods work performed during their decades of service for their obviously loving master. Folks are welcomed to use these non-motorized, and as yet unmarked, trails from dawn to dusk, and can park off road in the new parking area behind the roadside sign. A dedication ceremony for the Reserve is planned for later this summer.

Assisted Migration Project

Continued climate warming will disrupt our forests and their ability to lessen the impact of high CO2 levels.  We will lose our cool adapted evergreens and hardwoods which ,in turn, will change the nature of the forest and everything in and around it.  The Mousam Way Land Trust is initiating a project to plant warm adapted southern tree species on our reserves in anticipation of this radical change.  In time these southern replacements will become part of the forest and restore some balance.

You are invited to help us go one step farther by planting these replacements in your own landscape from which they will eventually spread.  If you become a member of our land trust or make a donation, you will receive a collection of five different species of seedlings to plant.  You also may choose to have the land trust plant them in strategic areas.  The selected species are attractive shade trees and most provide food for wildlife:  Redcedar, Bitternut Hickory, Tulip  Tree, Hackberry, and Bald Cypress.  They all will do well in ordinary garden soil where they receive sun most of the day.  Bald Cypress also will grow in wet soil with sun.

To help with this project, click here to donate , or complete our membership form by clicking here.  If you prefer to use a check, make it payable to MWLT, fill out the form below.  In either case you will be advised by email about receiving the seedlings so please provide your email address.       


Name  __________________________________         Phone  _________________________

Email  ___________________________________________

o  Single Membership $25;  Family $40; Corporate $100

o  Donation  $_____________  In honor/memory of  __________________________________

o  I will plant them.  You will be contacted when they are available.

o  Please plant them on land trust property to benefit our future.  We will let you know when they are planted.

Mail to: Mousam Way Land Trust, 917 Main Street, Suite B, Sanford, Maine 04083

Sanford Community Garden accepting applications for 2021 growing season

A few 4-ft by 12-ft beds are available for those who would like to raise their own vegetables, herbs or flowers.  There is no fee for a bed and all gardening materials and tools are supplied.  Each gardener must volunteer six hours of their time caring for the food pantry beds over the course of the season.  To reserve a bed, complete the application below. Questions can be addressed to

Sanford Community Garden
The David and Linda Pence Community Ecology Center and
The McKeon Environmental Reserve

Hosted by: Sanford/Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust

Managed by: Patty and Kevin McKeon, University of Maine Extension York County Master Gardener Volunteers

Sanford has a community garden where those who lack access to suitable land can grow their own organic vegetables, flowers, and herbs. The Sanford Community Garden is located at the Pence Community Ecology Center in the McKeon Environmental Reserve on Blanchard Road in Springvale.

Garden Philosophy

The purpose of this enterprise is to have an enjoyable, healthy, and successful experience. We will work with you to ensure this happens. We ask that you think of your gardening neighbors and the garden while working there.

The tool shed will serve as a communications center. Notices will be posted, along with the garden guidelines, and lists of approved organic soil amendments, pesticides, and herbicides. Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) contact information and a message board are posted there to ask for advice or to report any issues.

You’ll be encouraged to use the square foot gardening procedure developed by Mel Bartholomew as a means of getting the most out of a limited space, but you can use whatever layout you want. By the same token, certain species and varieties will be recommended based on experience. Again, you may choose your own. In any case, the point you should keep in mind is that the size of the bed places a limit on how many types of plants you can grow.

The Garden

The 4 X 12 foot, 10 inch high raised beds will be assigned plots on a first-come, first-served basis. Gardening space will be reserved and posted for local food pantry benefit, and all gardeners will be expected to tend these areas; watering of food pantry plots and produce distribution will be done by MGV.

Gardening tools, fertilizers, watering hoses and nozzles, produce cleaning sink, ADA-accessible outdoor restroom, and table and chairs are available for gardeners and their guests to use. Master Gardeners will provide advice and help, if needed; They will also oversee the general operations of Sanford Community Garden.

Applications for available beds will open in March. Applicants are expected to read, understand, and obey the General Policies, Rules, Waiver, and Photo Release as described on the application. Applications and Waivers must be completed, signed, and returned to the Master Gardeners to be considered for bed assignments. The Community Garden Advisory Board has final determination of all aspects of the Sanford Community Garden.

General Policies

  1. The following are not allowed: Smoking, alcohol, pets, subletting plots, non-organic control materials, unattended children, fresh manure, cannabis, illegal or invasive plants.
  2. Place disease-free plants, parts, and weeds in the compost pile provided.
  3. When leaving the garden, return any tools you used to the tool shed, and ensure the water spigot is turned off.
  4. Consider neighboring plots when planting vine or tall-growing plants such as cucumbers, squash, corn or sunflowers; use dwarf-type varieties and plant tall or trellised crops down the center of the bed.
  5. Plots should be properly cared for during the whole season; ask for help if you need it!

Using a plot at the Sanford Community Garden is a privilege; the Advisory Committee reserves the right to revoke the privilege of any gardener at any time for any reason it deems appropriate.

Application For Garden Plot Sanford Community Garden

Name: _______________________________________ Phone: _________________________

Mailing address: ______________________________________________________________________ Zip: ________

Email: _________________________________ (We will use this only to communicate with you.)

General Rules and Waiver Contract

I agree to waive, release, and hold harmless Sanford Springvale Land Trust, York County Cooperative Extension Service, and Master Gardener Volunteers from any and all damages, claims, suits, or injuries. By using the Sanford Community Garden located at Blanchard Road in Springvale, I assume responsibility for all risks, damages, to self or personal property and hazards, including ant third parties I may bring onto said property, for the purposes of gardening or otherwise. Insurance coverage is my own responsibility. I agree to act in a safe, sensible, and responsible manner, and will use respect with property and other people while at the garden. I also understand and agree to follow garden rules and policies.

I have read and understand the General Rules and Waiver Contract. I understand that my signature here is an acceptance of the General Rules and Waiver, and I agree to abide by them.

Signature: ________________________________________ Date: ______________________


At times during the spring and summer, folks from Kennebunk Savings Bank and the Sanford Community Garden Advisory Committee will be visiting to take pictures of you and your family for publicity purposes. Please complete the release form below to indicate your permission if you do not mind photographs being taken of you and your family.

_____ It’s ok to take pictures as described above.

Signed:_______________________________________________ Date: ______________________

Return this application form to , or deliver to Master Gardener Volunteers (MGV) Kevin & Patty McKeon, 246 Blanchard Rd., Springvale, ME, 04083. Questions can be directed to MGV, Kev: 207-206-5934; Patty: 207-206-5933.

A Tree Grows in Sanford

Another of many wonders happening at the 3 Rivers Land Trust, Mousam Way Land Trust, and Sanford Trails collaborative land conservation project. 13,000 or so years ago, melting glaciers dropped large rocks called “erratics” onto the ground. Lichen, a 1/2 plant 1/2 animal, symbiotic thing, formed from algae and fungal stuff and attached to the erratic. The lichen lived and fed by injecting rock-dissolving acid into the rock, spreading over the erratic’s surface. Moss spores, carried by the wind, landed on the lichen and began to grow. The moss created a rich, moist place for the seed of a tree to sprout. This sprout spread its roots along the now moss-covered rock, reaching to the surrounding soil and anchoring and feeding the growing tree. This series of events resulted in this large black birch for us to ponder! More about Black Birch here:

Kennebunk Savings supports community garden expansion

Kennebunk Savings recently provided a donation of over $3,000 to the Sanford-Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust in support of its new and already-expanding community garden. The bank has been a partner on this project from the beginning, with donations totaling over $18,000 since the initial purchase of the land.

“Land is a precious resource in Maine,” said Bradford C. Paige, Kennebunk Savings president and CEO, in an email. “It’s why we all live here – the beauty of the natural landscape, the bounty of our natural resources. Preserving it and, just as critically, fostering an appreciation for it in future generations is an awesome responsibility.”

In 2017, the Sanford-Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust purchased a plot of “ecologically significant” land on Blanchard Road. The 72-acre parcel of mostly former logging trails contained significant habitat for life forms in need of protection and conservation.

“We fell in love with the land because of its very diverse nature,” said Bud Johnston, the trust’s director, in an email.

Many of the state of Maine’s sensitive habitats are impacted by local development – even the areas protected by shore land zoning. The desire to protect them for future generations of humans and wildlife alike has led to the formation of land trusts, legally bound to preserve these areas forever. The Mousam Way Trust owns just over 800 acres in Sanford and Springvale.

When the former owners of the parcel on Blanchard Road subsequently donated an additional 38 acres – including an existing barn, an outdoor restroom and a deep well left intact by the previous owners – Johnston saw an opportunity to take a more active role in fostering appreciation and preservation in the community. To Johnston, this additional land suggested a new community center and garden.

The Pence Community Eco-Center, named in honor of frequent and significant donors David and Linda Pence, broke ground in 2018. A community garden, with gardening plots available at low-to-no-cost for low income families, was established alongside the Eco-Center. Initially, a $25 fee was set for use of a bed, but after 80 percent of applicants met the qualifications to have the fee waived last summer, it was eliminated.

A large plot was set aside for the trust’s work with the Sanford Backpack Program, which sends nutritious food home with food-insecure school children over the weekends. The need was greater than anticipated, and so the community garden is now expanding – by adding an additional 2,000 square feet, they will be able to yield 1,000 pounds of vegetables each year.

Kennebunk Savings’ initial donation was a $5,000 matching grant to support the purchase of the land. Traditionally, matching grants are offered for a period of several months, but the funds were matched by private donations within just a few weeks. The bank later donated $10,000 for the construction of the gardens, and then over $3,000 for expansions. A team of volunteers from the bank also painted the bathrooms.

“We have been thrilled with the results so far,” said Johnston. The community gardens added a waiting list this year, and on the plot of initially purchased land, relatively uncommon spicebush plants were discovered. The shrub is the only source of food for the larval stage of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly, which were soon seen flitting around the community gardens. Spicebush swallowtails were last seen in Maine in 1934.

Since 1994, Kennebunk Savings has set aside 10 percent of its annual earnings for local charities. Since then, Kennebunk Savings’ charitable giving has exceeded $14 million, including over $1 million in 2019 alone. In 2020, the bank has shifted and stretched its giving guidelines to assist many organizations in weathering the difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and was named a “COVID-19 All Star” by the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce.

The Sanford Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust is a nonprofit, community-oriented organization dedicated to the permanent protection of local land for the benefit of the public and future generations as well as providing livable habitat for present and future generations of humans, plant and animal life in the Sanford area. It does this without cost to the town through public education and protection of significant natural resources, farmland, historic areas and scenic vistas and by working with landowners who seek to protect their land through conservation easements or by transfer of deed to the land trust.