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:

Kids Can Grow! 2022 Wraps Up With Graduation

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s York County Kids Can Grow! 4-H program for 2022 held its final class Saturday, 9-24-2022, at their classroom and learning center at the David & Linda Pence Ecology Center, part of Mousam Way Land Trust’s McKeon Reserve in Springvale. This learning program, in its 23rd year, provides children with a positive first experience with gardening and growing their own food.

Frank Wertheim, now retired from his position as UMaine Extension Professor after over 35 years with the Cooperative Extension Office, has spearheaded and instructed this wonderful program for all 23 years, with the steadfast help of Sue Tkacik, Community Education Assistant, also retired after 16 years with UMaine Extension. 

Each child is provided the materials to build their own 3’ x 5’ raised bed at their residence, and also given seeds and plants to add to their beds. Those lacking garden space are offered Kids Beds at the Sanford Community Garden, a part of the Pence Ecology Center. A Maine Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) is assigned to each child to help them along the way. Carefully supervised monthly classes include gardening skills and hands-on experience at their learning beds at the Sanford Community Garden adjacent to the classroom. Finally, they take that practical experience home to their personal gardens with their MGV Mentor’s guidance. 

After forming 4-person teams, kids design their own group sign, which remains posted next to their shared learning beds for the season. There have been many comical creations over the years; Sue particularly recalls the year we had a team of all boys, and their sign included worms driving tanks and parachuting out of planes!

“Each month the kids have learned something new about gardening: building, amending, planning, maintaining, insects, harvesting, and sharing how their gardens are doing”, says Sue. “It’s been a joy to see the growing (pun intended) interest the kids have as they are able to eat or share with family, something that they grew themselves. I have to add that in all the years of creating teams of kids, they have consistently worked together amazingly well.”

Their final day involved learning how to put the garden to bed and how to test seeds for viability with saved seeds in the Spring. The kids opened some bean seeds that had begun to germinate and used hand lenses to see the beginnings of roots and leaves. Certificates of completion were handed out and the 2022 t-shirts were shared.

With Frank and Sue retiring, there will be new leadership with Mary Wicklund from the Extension Office.  She will have the support of many MGVs who have volunteered in the program for years, some for every year!  Martha Morrison, a key volunteer, enhances the children’s safety by releasing them only to known parents or guardians, along with getting the snacks ready for our break!

Sanford Community Garden Application

Sanford has a community garden where those who lack access to suitable land can grow their own organic vegetables, flowers, and herbs in 4-foot by 12-foot raised beds. There are also some 3-foot by 5-foot Kids Beds for your supervised young gardeners! All tools and gardening materials 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, and leave a message or ask questions, complete the application below.

Sanford Community Garden
The David and Linda Pence Community Ecology Center

The McKeon Environmental Reserve

Springvale, Maine

We thank Kennebunk Savings Bank for their generous support which allows us to offer this community service at no cost to gardeners. 

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.

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. Be mindful of mature plant height so as to not shade other beds. 

The Garden

Master Gardener Volunteers (MGV) from the University of Maine Extension’s Master Gardener Program manage Sanford Community Garden and are available for advice, help, application questions, and to report any issues: Call Kev (206-5934) or Patty (206-5933).

Beds are assigned plots on a first-come, first-served basis. Gardening spaces will be reserved and posted for local food pantry benefit, and all gardeners will be expected to tend these areas; watering and produce distribution of food pantry plots 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. 

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 and submitted 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

Internship Application

We are offering internships for folks interested in gaining experience with promoting natural resource conservation. Some projects could include: butterfly/moth inventory and pollinator establishment at Great Works Reserve; Kids Day Camp establishment at McKeon Reserve; erecting and organizing a 28’x48′ greenhouse: Trailhead design, including informational kiosk and trail signage for reserve; Also, proposals for program establishment(s) of your choice will be entertained, and/or coordinated with mentorship from Trust President and Directors. School credit will be given, if approved by your institution.

Please note that the Trust can not offer stipends nor housing at this time; such compensation will need to be at the discretion of the applicant’s institution.

Complete the following form, and/or email this website with the below information, and anything else you’d like to offer.

Sanford Community Garden Now Accepting Applications

Seed catalogues are coming in, and it’s time to think about our gardens, and renew not only our scents of the spring gardening soil but also our 2022 Sanford Community Gardening applications. The Garden is part of the David and Linda Pence Community Ecology Center at the McKeon Environmental Reserve in Springvale. 

Mousam Way Land Trust, the Garden’s sponsor, has noticed increasing demand for these raised beds, so an expansion project has doubled the original size to 52, 4’x12’ beds. Also, gardeners have asked about the availability of smaller beds for their kids and grandkids, so the Trust is happy to announce the addition of 3’x5′ Kids Beds. These will be assigned to the adults who will supervise their young gardeners. 

Speaking of kids: We’re excited to announce a collaboration with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and its “Kids Can Grow” program. Some of the Kids Beds will be reserved for this wonderful teaching project, overseen by the Extension’s Master Gardener Volunteer program. After completing an application, kids between 7-12 years old interested in learning gardening will be assigned a volunteer mentor, garden soil, seeds, and a 3’x5’ raised bed that will be installed at their home, or—if room is an issue—they use the Kids Can Grow beds at the Garden.

Again this season, thanks to generous support from Kennebunk Savings Bank, soil additives and pesticides—all certified for organic gardening use—along with applicator bottles, will be available for Community Gardening use, and securely stored in the tool shed, with hand tools, knee pads, gardening seats, and wheelbarrows. There’s a small patio table with chairs next to the large produce washing sink. An outdoor restroom is next to the Ecology Center. 

This year’s plans include a pergola over the patio area to shade the summer sun; A large greenhouse—a gift from Springvale Nurseries!; A “Neighborhood Library” kiosk; A Pine Grove Picnic Area; And a nursery to support various Mousam Way Land Trust restoration, pollination, and meadow projects. 

And don’t forget the 2 ½ miles of trails on the Reserve. These dog-friendly trails, which many gardeners have enjoyed, connect to Sanford’s wonderful Rail Trail, which in turn link to the nearby Rail Trail Park and 3 Rivers Land Trust’s Community Forest,  a 550 acre tract of young forest with a challenging 3 ½ mile Loop Trail. 

Mousam Way Land Trust Awarded Clean Trail Grant  

Mousam Way Land Trust is happy to announce the receipt of a Clean Trail Grant, a program developed by  to foster respect, care, and integrity of landscapes within which we all enjoy trail use. 

From their website: “Here at ExtremeTerrain, we respect the integrity of the landscape we live, drive and play on, and strive to leave the trails we enjoy better than we found them. For this reason we are pleased to launch the Clean Trail Grant program.”

Their grant program provides eligible groups the opportunity to apply for a grant to fund trail improvement related projects like trail clean-up, trail restoration, and trail expansion.

Realizing that even careful trail use often results in some trail wear and tear, has supported this program and encourages respectful trail use to keep the landscapes we all love inviting for everyone. 

Mousam Way Land Trust thanks and will use the Clean Trail Grant proceeds for its ongoing trail building and enhancement projects.

Boardwalk & Viewing Platform for an Atlantic White Cedar Swamp

Sanford-Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust (MWLT) owns property known as Great Works Environmental Reserve, adjacent to both Sand Pond and the North Berwick border in South Sanford.  It is open from dawn to dusk for people to visit.  From the sign and trailhead at the end of Great Works Drive, park your car and walk an easy 2/3 mile long foot path winding through a short section of a young spruce-pine forest, thence through a rare pitch pine-scrub oak forest. Before looping back to the path to the trailhead, the trail ends at an extremely rare natural community—an Atlantic White Cedar Swamp.

This wetland is an “Essential Habitat”, and a “Wetland of Special Significance” that is home to the Maine endangered Hessel’s Hairstreak butterfly. The land trust wants people to see both the Pitch Pine/Scrub Oak forest, and the rarely visited Atlantic White Cedar Swamp via the boardwalk. 

A site for the boardwalk was chosen for its direct link to an existing trail. Preliminary design, budget, and fund-raising were completed. All the required federal, state, and local agencies were notified, their input received, and permits acquired. An open area for the viewing platform was identified as being conducive for experiencing the wonder of the special wetland. Minimal site and soil disturbance were requirements for this work, so rather unique construction methods were used to accomplish this.  Geo Piles having the requirements of strength, durability, and adaptability to the project, and which are able to be driven into the soil with hand tools, are used to anchor the structure. Sub-system pre-fabrication and off site lumber cutting was maximized to minimize sawdust, and all material was carefully accounted for.  

Mousam Way Land Trust extends thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Natural Areas Program, staff at the City of Sanford’s Planning and Codes offices, and especially the donors who made this project possible: The William Oscar Emery Fund, and the Members and Directors of MWLT.

Combined with the our other trails, this boardwalk will extend our mission for environmental awareness, education and outreach to the public, youth groups, and school classes to experience the unusual natural communities found in the Sanford area.  The Mousam Way Land Trust will  give interpretive tours from time to time.   Placards placed along the trail and at the platform will describe ecologically significant features of the two communities and their imperiled status.

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.