You never know the worth of water until the well is dry or polluted

Fri, 06/10/2022 - 8:45am

    What happens in Adams Pond watershed has a big impact on the pond water quality, which plays an important role in the health and economy of the region. Simply stated, our drinking water supply is threatened by pollution from human development, which can have a range of consequences for the entire community.

    In 1988, Carl and I bought 72 acres with an “almost-finished” contemporary house overlooking Adams Pond. Swedish-born Carl had forest management in his DNA, so he immediately saw that some of the area was a neglected “sick woodlot” of mostly low-grade timber and diseased hemlocks because of the lack of any management or care for the environment. We also discovered an old farmhouse foundation, a junk yard with an abandoned car, washing machine, broken tools, lots of broken glass, metal, tin cans, and other undesirables.

    With Adams Pond, at our doorstep, we were always conscious of being good stewards of the watershed. We view the watershed as a miniature version of our planet and were always mindful to give something back to this corner of the earth to sustain life. Our immediate goal on the property was to clean up the wood lot and improve the forest health.

    Carl joined the Small Wood Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM), attended several of their “show cases” and got to know several foresters. In 1989, one year after purchasing the property we engaged the services of a “green certified” Forest Resource Manager to develop a forest management plan. Under her guidance and supervision, we restored the old logging road that our daughter used for trail rides. Carl did forest maintenance work such as limbing and selective cutting, using our donkey or pony to drag the logs down the hill, and soil erosion prevention. He continued to improve the forest health until 2012 when he was diagnosed with Lyme disease that caused mobility problems.

    Because of Carl’s mobility impairment from Lyme disease, we realized we could no longer manage our woodlot. We started talks in 2013 with Boothbay Region Water District to sell our land for conservation to protect Adams Pond. In 2015, the water district obtained a Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program (MNRCP) grant that helped them to purchase and permanently protect the woodlands. The 70-acre woodlot is now protected by a conservation easement held by the Boothbay Region Land Trust. We retained a 3.2-acre residential property that is surrounded by conservation land.

    We have continued to work in partnership with the water company to protect our connecting properties and the watershed ever since.

    Over the years, Carl and I did several projects to make sure the watershed, and water supply it feeds, will be sustainable for generations to come.

    We installed rain gutters, reduced the amount of lawn, planted native plants as a buffer, maintained a garden with mulch, and installed runoff diverters to reduce erosion and the amount of polluted runoff that reaches Adams Pond. In 1991, we installed a new 1,000-gallon septic tank and expanded the leach field. We’ve never used any poisons on the land.

    Over the years, we chose to selectively harvest and weed out the diseased hemlocks to encourage new growth for a renewable woodlot resource for Adams Pond. Timber harvests were done in keeping with our forest plan using modern equipment of the latest Scandinavian design, which allowed for timber removal without damaging other trees as traditional skidders do. Because of our careful management, the woodlot is thriving today, and its value has been enhanced.

    The water district and I have been working to control the invasive Japanese knotweed that has become established on our neighboring properties. We also joined forces to pave the eroding gravel driveway and put an end to this source of soil runoff into Adams Pond.

    Carl, I, and our family have enjoyed many wonderful years on our property. We have always tried to live in harmony with the land and are so pleased to see it permanently protected for the future. It is against this backdrop that we view clean drinking water, watershed sustainability, and what landowners can do to preserve a healthy watershed.