BRLT Preserves have banner year of visitors

Tue, 05/04/2021 - 8:45am

    With COVID-19 closures and safeguards in place over the past year, one of the few activities everyone could continuously enjoy was a visit to Boothbay Region Land Trust’s preserves. As a result, many preserves received double and triple the number of visitors in the last twelve months. Visits from members and non-members alike increased to record levels, and license plates from many states were seen in the parking lots through late summer and fall. It was exciting to see so many people on BRLT trails who had never before visited a preserve.

    While one of the few positive results of the pandemic was to introduce more people to Maine's natural beauty by hiking these trail, more people on the trails has also meant more impact on the preserve environments. With this in mind, BRLT gratefully asks for your help in maintaining the condition of our preserves for the benefit of everyone's continued enjoyment.

    Occasionally, the parking lots became full at some of our more popular preserves and people parked their cars on the street. Parking in the streets creates traffic issues and safety issues for pedestrians. Please do not park on the streets if you are visiting one of our preserves. If the parking lot is full at the preserve you planned to visit, please go to one of the many other BRLT preserves throughout the region. Have a plan B in mind, especially during the busy summer months or during peak days/ times. There are many hidden gems that throughout BRLT’s network of preserves.

    With more hikers on the trails, the land trust also found more litter and tracks of people who had gone off trail. Keeping to the trails is critical to the preservation of the plant and animal life in the preserves, ensuring that sensitive plants are not trampled and animals and their nests are not disturbed. And of course, please always practice "leave no trace" hiking by taking out everything you bring into a preserve.

    Many of our preserve visitors love to bring their dogs on hikes, which we like to do too. But more visitors bringing more dogs has led to a marked increase in unwelcome encounters between off-leash dogs and other visitors. Except at Oak Point Farm where all dogs must be leashed at all times, dogs are allowed off-leash on the remainder of BRLT preserves only if they remain under their owner’s control. That policy is identical to Maine’s law, which prohibits off-leash dogs from wandering beyond their owner’s control.

    Given the many distractions for dogs while they are on a preserve, the reality is that only a few owners truly have effective control over their dogs using only voice commands. Even well-trained dogs cannot always be relied upon to comply with their owner’s instructions when confronted with another off-leash dog or a deer. Please be realistic in assessing the ability of your dog to respond to voice commands when confronted with so many distractions on our preserves before taking your dog off-leash.

    Please also pick up after your dog and take the bag with you! No one wants to see (much less step in) what your dog may have left behind. Dog waste is not only an annoyance to other visitors, it is unhealthy for the preserve environment. BRLT wants to ensure that all visitors feel comfortable and safe visiting our beautiful outdoor spaces. Remember how you (or your elderly family members or young children) feel when a large unknown dog comes barreling down a trail towards you. Even a happy dog jumping on you unexpectedly could accidentally soil your clothes. Leashed dogs can also react negatively when approached by unleashed dogs, making visits difficult for dog owners trying to control their own dogs if an unleashed dog approaches. These encounters can range from frustrating to frightening or dangerous. Please don’t let your dog approach other people unless they verbally welcome the encounter. If the preserve parking lot is full, we recommend leashing your dog throughout the walk as busy trails are not the best place for unleashed dogs.

    In short, please be respectful of others on the trails, especially if you decide to let your dog off leash, so all of our preserves can be enjoyed by everyone. Now get out there and surround yourself with the natural beauty of the Boothbay peninsula by visiting a BRLT preserve.