The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Trees Fall in the Forest

Posted by | November 21, 2019 | Filed under: Culture

Two figures knelt next to the boardwalk. As Norma Fox, a volunteer Trail Ranger, approached them, she noticed they had collection bags, tools, and appeared to be digging plants out of the ground. 

Hmmmm . . . 

Bikes on Trails
Foot traffic only, please. Photo by Norma Fox.

Not all visitors know the rules of the Reserve, which is why Norma and her fellow volunteer Rangers are a welcome presence out on the trails. Not sure if they were part of a Reserve-sponsored project, Norma greeted them and asked what they were finding. Her polite and professional explanation of the Reserve’s non-collecting policy — once she learned they were collecting plants for a landscaping business — prevented further damage. 

Luckily, the actions of these visitors are not typical. Reserve trails are beautiful, serene places populated by visitors happy for a quiet walk or time at the shore. Ranger efforts contribute to this normal state of things — 280 volunteer hours’ worth in 2019.

You Never Know What You'll Find

Downed trees (not surprising), a moose on the Pilger trail (surprising), loose strips of boardwalk, hidden wasp nests, hanging tree limbs. Rangers communicate their observations so that trails can be made safe for visitors (or from visitors, on occasion). 

A primary source of Ranger action is the “Logbook.” This unpretentious spiral notebook deserves a wider readership than it currently enjoys, as much for its weather and wildlife observations as for its humorous mosquito advisories. "Totally a bug convention at the Muskie Trail," Ranger Carol Raposa wrote in July, "And I was the main attraction." 

Ranger logbook

Red alert!

In addition to mosquitoes, Rangers talk turkeys, deer, bald eagles, and butterflies. Their entries make the reader slightly envious of all they witness between May and October. 

Ranger Evelyn
Who's that in the orange hat? Ranger Evelyn Johnson Moore sports the signature feature of the Ranger uniform. Photo by Gail Murano.

Rangers need no science degree or trained naturalist’s eye. Some do have those skills, and what they all possess is an enthusiasm for nature and the Reserve, and a willingness to share it with others. “Met interesting visitors questioning skunk cabbage and so gave them the scoop,” Norma wrote in June. 

Sometimes it’s the visitors who share, as Ranger Steve Mallon noted in the logbook’s last entry (#84) for the year, “Still lots of folks walking as I left. Was shown a photo of an osprey in a tree taken this AM!” The busy season could (and did) end right there with Steve’s exclamation point - a cheerful reminder of positive ways Rangers engage both nature and visitor. 

If you would like to walk the trails with a Ranger's purpose, contact Lynne Vachon at 207-646-1555 x118 or email lynne@wellsnerr.org.

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