The Gorham Times, Gorham, Maine's Community Newspaper

Staff Writer

Spring is a very busy time for the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust (PRLT). With 25 Preserves and over 1400 acres and many miles of public access trails to care for, the organization is looking for volunteers in three crucial areas this spring. People are needed to help with Spring trail work, to help monitor Water Quality along the Presumpscot River watershed, and to help with the annual Migratory Fish Count.

Rachelle Curan Apse, director of PRLT said, “Volunteers are central to our community non-profit. Thanks to over 100 volunteers who donated thousands of hours of time in the past year, we were able to build three new miles of public access trails and maintain over ten miles of trails, plus steward our 25 preserves.”

Spring Trail Work Volunteers are needed to get the many wonderful trails and preserves cleaned up after an especially heavy winter and ready for people to enjoy. There are many tasks, small and large, from moving leaves and sticks off the trail to carrying lumber and shifting large rocks to designing switchbacks, there’s a task for everyone. Spring Trail Clean-ups happen from 9 a.m.- noon. Come for an hour, or come for all three.

The locations and dates are as follows: Gambo Preserve, Gorham – Saturday, May 13; Hawkes Preserve, Gorham – Saturday, May 13; Frog Hollow Preserve, Gorham – Friday, May 19; Mill Brook Preserve, Westbrook – Sunday, May 21; Black Brook Preserve, Windham – Saturday, June 10; Cummings Preserve, Gorham – Saturday, June 10; Little River Preserve, Gorham – Saturday, June 17; and Pringle Wildlife Preserve, Windham – Saturday, June 24.

Water Quality Monitoring Volunteers are needed to collect water samples in an effort to keep the waters in our region clean. For over 20 years, the Presumpscot River Watch (now a program of the land trust) has been collecting data on dissolved oxygen and bacteria throughout the Presumpscot River Watershed. These are 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 6, at USM in Gorham. Aspe said, “As we expand our volunteer opportunities to water quality monitoring this year we are looking for more volunteers to help strengthen our field programs and meet our mission to support healthy lands, waters, wildlife, and people across the Presumpscot River watershed.”

There are 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: May 20, June 3, June 17, July 1, July 15, July 29, Aug 12, Aug 26, Sep 9, and Sep 23.

Migratory Fish Count Volunteers are needed for the annual migratory fish count–coordinated by the University of Southern Maine Environmental Science and Policy Department. The count provides critical data helpful in estimating the alewife population in Casco Bay.

Alewife live in the ocean and spawn in freshwater systems and are important to the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. In spring, they make their way from the ocean into the Presumpscot River and Mill Brook so they can reproduce in Highland Lake before returning to the sea. This is the largest and most productive alewife run in Casco Bay, and it is an impressive sight to see.

Volunteers will count fish at the Highland/Mill Brook Dam as they migrate upstream, typically in May to early June. It is a simple and exciting way to volunteer while offering a backstage pass to an exciting natural phenomenon. No experience is needed and a short training will be provided. The time commitment is also short, as count slots are just 30 minutes long.

To sign up to participate in any or all of these important programs, go to the land trust Get Involved webpage here. If you have questions about any of these volunteer opportunities or would like more information, please contact Stewardship and Outreach Coordinator Toby Jacobs at or 839-4633.