Welcome to Fran Brook Wetland!
Fran Brook Wetland is a freshwater forested, shrub, and emergent wetland with a view of Mt. Blue (National Wetlands Survey; Inland Fish & Wildlife Service). Dominated by Tussock Sedge hummocks, Fran Brook Wetland is characteristic of a Tussock Sedge Meadow. The wetland is located completely within the boundaries of Mt. Blue State Park, tucked away in the Western Mountains of Weld, Maine. Mt. Blue State Park is the biggest state park in Maine (~8,000 acres) and is adjoined by State-owned Public Lands and State-held easements which comprise the surrounding Tumbledown Mountain area. Untouched by anthropogenic influences (commercial timber harvesting has not occurred in the park in over 60 years; ATV use is prohibited in the wetlands), Fran Brook Wetland is a remote wetland accessible only on foot via a hike through the woods. The wetland appeals to those seeking a visit to a natural area with opportunities to swim, fish, and boat in Webb Lake (located approximately 5 kilometers from the wetland) and hike the many mountains in the area. By virtue of location, the wetland is not easily accessible; tall, waterproof boots and a hand-held GPS are essential!
(For more information on Mt. Blue State Park)
Fran Brook runs through the wetland.
the National Technical Committee for Hydric Soils, hydric soils are those that
form under circumstances of saturation, flooding, or ponding long enough during
the growing season to develop anaerobic conditions in the upper part (http://soils.usda.gov/use/hydric/ntchs/).
Fran Brook Wetland contains three different categories of soils, all of which
are considered hydric: Brayton fine sandy loam (BrB), Brayton-Peacham-Markey
association (BTB), and Bucksport and Markey soils (BW) (Web Soil Survey).
Within the 12.9 acres of Fran Brook Wetland, the majority of the soil is BW
(76.1%). BrB soils make up 7.9% and BTB make up 16.0% of the soil.
Fran Brook runs through the middle of the wetland.
Fran Brook Wetland is a wet area! Although the wetland seldom floods, the Tussock Sedge hummocks are generally surrounded by standing water during most
of the growing season. The water table depth for the entire wetland is
categorized as 0-25 cm (Web Soil Survey). The BW soils, specifically, are rated
at 0 cm, most likely indicating that the soils are saturated throughout the
surface layer. The chance of flooding in Fran Brook Wetland is low; flooding
occurs less than once in 500 years. In the BTB and BW soils (comprising
approximately 92% of the wetland), ponding occurs frequently, meaning more than
once in two years. Fran Brook, which runs through the wetland, is classified as
a Class B (Freshwater River Class) river (MEDEP 2011). Fran Brook empties into
Webb Lake which empties into Webb River which ultimately empties into the
Jack Pine stand that lines Fran Brook Wetland.
The most dominant plant observed in the Mt. Blue State Park wetland is probably the Tussock Sedge. As of 30 March 2012, most of the vegetation is still senesced, except for a few sprouting plants, such as the Carex sp.. The wetland is bordered by Jack Pine while Bluejoint is dominant in the southern area of the wetland. Near the northwest access point to the wetland is a lone patch of Common Cattail.
Bluejoint located at the southern part of Fran Brook Wetland.
Table 1. Expected and Observed vegetation in Mt. Blue State Park Wetland. Sources: Wetland Indicator Status (Natural Resources Conservation Service), Maine Natural Areas Program. Observations made 30 March 2012.
Patch of Common Cattail located at the northwest access point.
Carex sp. sprouting through the snow.
In this area, black bear, beaver, deer, and coyote are known to roam. Feline pawprints of some sort have been spotted within the wetland. The area provides a significant wildlife habitat for inland waterfowl and wading birds! Old Man's Beard (Usnea--lichen) was spotted in Fran Brook Wetland--a sign of good air quality!
Usnea (Old Man's Beard) spotted in Fran Brook Wetland.
Pawprint spotted in Fran Brook Wetland.
Visiting the Wetland
As mentioned previously, this wetland is difficult to access! Fran Brook Wetland is only accessible by foot, and there is no specific path. The best way to enter is from Mt. Blue Road (Map: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=mount+blue+weld+maine&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&sa=N&tab=wl ), where one will enter by a patch of cattails! Although the wetland is completely public, one must be aware of private land which borders the park when accessing the wetland. Fran Brook Wetland, as well as the rest of Mt. Blue State Park is family-friendly, however each visitor must be physically able to trudge through the woods.
Speckled Alder lines the banks of Fran Brook.
Wetland information and photos by Hannah Shute, Department of Environmental Science, 2013
Last updated on 29 April 2012 by HS