Welcome to Brownfield Bog!
Visiting the Wetland
Access to the wetland
is available via a canoe launch off Lords Hill Road off of Route 160 (right before you cross
over a large metal bridge) and by following Bog Road in Brownfield, Maine. The residents living around the access point
may not want cars parked along Bog Road but parking is available at the canoe
launch or in a parking lot on the other side of the bridge (Bog Road is only
open seasonally due to flooding). A canoe is needed to access the open portion of the bog, which can only be
accessed in early spring via Bog Road. The forested wetland can be accessed on
foot but bring boots because it is usually flooded! The wetland is family
friendly with picnic and camping areas as well as trails off of Lords Hill
Follow ME-25 into Standish.
Turn right onto ME-113.
Turn right onto ME-160 N/Denmark Road and continue onto Lords Hill Road.
Turn left onto Bog Road.
Brownfield Bog is a pristine wetland bursting with wildlife,
surrounded by mountains, and located along the Saco River. Covering
a total area of approximately 5,700 acres, Brownfield Bog resides in the towns of Brownfield, Fryeburg, and Denmark, Maine
(Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife). The bog includes
freshwater emergent wetlands, freshwater forested/shrub wetlands, and
freshwater ponds (U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Services, 1986). Developed under the Wildlife Restoration Act, this
wetland is listed as a Wildlife Management Area and is owned by the
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (tax map R-03, lot
number 10)(Town of Brownfield, 2012). North of the wetland
reside Lovewell and Pleasant Pond, while the Saco River meanders
through the area creating an oxbow shape. Brownfield
Bog is also listed as one of the top bird watching spots in New England by the Maine
Audubon Society (2011)! The
wooded portion of the wetland is listed as a Silver Maple Floodplain Forest
while the open portion of the wetland is listed as a Leatherleaf Bog (Gawler and
Brownfield Bog contains 24 different types of soils, 14 of which are
not hydric or unknown hydric and 10 that are
hydric. The soils that are considered hydric are
those that meet a hydric soil definition. For example, the Federal
Register definition is as follows: “ A hydric soil is a soil that
formed under conditions of saturation, flooding, or ponding long
enough during the growing season to develop anaerobic conditions in
the upper part” (Federal Register, 1994). The most dominant hydric soils in the bog are Medomak silt loam (Mk) and Vassalboro mucky peat, ponded (Vb). Due to the periods of
saturation and anaerobic conditions, there are several indicators
that allow one to classify a soil as hydric, including: a certain
percentage of organic matter indicating organic soils or
redoximorphic features indicating hydric mineral soils. The color and
texture of the soils will be altered based on the accumulation of
organic matter, resulting in peat, muck, black or dark saturated
soil; reduction of iron, resulting in a gray or gleyed soil (redox
depletions); and accumulation of iron (if soil reverts to aerobic),
resulting in reddish mottles (redox concentrations). The soils listed
as “mucky” or “peat” in the wetland will most likely be dark
soil, high in organic matter, while the sandy and loamy mineral soils
will most likely have redox characteristics.
Classifying soils as hydric involves the depth to the water table, flooding and ponding frequency, water infiltration and the runoff potential of the soil. The depth to the water table refers to the depth at which the soil reaches the saturation zone, which is indicated by redox features (Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2012). The flooding frequency of soils refers to the temporary submergence caused by overflowing streams, runoff, or by tides. Flooding of the soils in the wetland is frequent for Medomak silt loam. The ponding frequency of soils refers to standing water that is only removed by percolation, transpiration or evaporation. Ponding of the soils in the wetland is frequent for the mucky and peat soils. Surface runoff of a soil refers to the loss of water from an area into another by flow, which is related to the infiltration of the soil because the greater the infiltration, the lower the runoff potential. The runoff potential of the soils in the wetland is low for soils with a water table 0 or <10 cm from the surface and high for soils with a water table >200 cm. Brownfield Bog has several ponds adjacent to the wetland, including Lovewell Pond, Pleasant Pond, and Clays pond, as well as the Saco River running through the wetland. The Saco River is classified as AA and is an inlet and outlet for the wetland, while the small inlet rivers, both classified as A, are the Little Saco River and Shepards River. There are also numerous small brooks and connections from the Saco River that are inlets and outlets for the wetland.
The general vegetation of the wetland includes canopy, shrub, and herb growth forms. All of the vegetation that was not a canopy growth form was either just sprouting or was brown from the winter months. There was an abundance of Silver Maples throughout the flooded wooded wetland as well as evidence of Red Maples from floating red seeds. Evidence of Red Oak leaves mixed with maple leaves on the canopy floor was also found. Sensitive Fern, identified by the spore stalks of the form that persisted throughout the winter, was abundant further away from the river and was not covered by water, while a Carex herb was found on the outskirts of the wooded wetland and was covered by water. Sphagnum moss was abundant throughout the wetland under water as well as on portions that were not flooded.
Expected and observed plants in Brownfield Bog, Brownfield, Maine. Sources: Ecosystem type: Maine Department of Environmental Protection, 2011 and S. Gawler and A. Cutko, 2010; wetland type: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Wetland Inventory Mapper, 1986; plant names and wetland indicator status: Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Database, 2012.
Saco River Dams
The streamflow conditions of the Saco River upstream from the bog are ranked normal (25th-75th percentile) with a mean discharge of 3270 cubic feet per second (U.S. Department of Interior, 2012). Although there are no dams that are upstream from the bog, the stations downstream are used to generate power and to control flooding along the river. This has an impact on the bog because it regulates the amount of water that is flowing out of the area, therefore, effecting the hydrology of the wetland. The dams that prevent the flooding can hold water back and may increase flooding in the wetland. Although I observed no visible disturbance, the Saco River and surrounding area are heavily used for camping and canoeing which brings an abundance of visitors to the wetland. The increase of recreational use in the summer may cause erosion of shorelines in the bog area due to people getting in and out of canoes and swimming. This could result in an increase of pollutants from use and sediments into the wetland, as well as a decrease of trees along the wetland shore.
The most dramatic historical event of the area is the 1947 forest fire that destroyed 80% of the town, including portions of the bog (J. Butler, 1981.) This forest fire started due to a long season of drought and spread so rapidly that the Saco River and flooded wetlands could not stop the blaze. At the time, the town of Brownfield had a population of 750 people, including farmers and workers of sawmills located along the Saco River. Today Brownfield is still a small town of approximately 1,500 people.
J. (1981.) We knew we were doomed. Yankee,
Gawler, S. and Cutko, A. 2010. Natural Landscapes of Maine: A Guide to Natural Communities and Ecosystems. Maine Natural Areas Program, Maine Department of Conservation, Augusta, Maine.
Maine Department of Environmental Protection. (2011). Wetland Types. Retrieved from: http://www.maine.gov/dep/water/wetlands/types.html.
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. (2010). Brownfield Bog Wildlife Management Area. Retrieved from: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/management/.
Natural Resources Conservation Service. (2011). United States Department of Agriculture Plant Database. Retrieved from: http://plants.usda.gov/wetland.html.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. (1986). National Wetlands Inventory Website: Wetland Mapper. Retrieved from: http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/.