Welcome to Holt Pond Preserve!
The Holt Pond Preserve is a protected wetland region located in Bridgton, ME. The Preserve was founded by the Lakes Environment Association (LEA) after their initial purchase of 26 acres in the area in 1973. The LEA's mission since its inception in 1970 has been to protect the waters and watersheds of Western Maine, making Holt Pond one of the association's first purchases. Since 1973, the LEA and the Loon Echo Trust have combined to stretch the amount of protected land within the preserve to over 400 acres, helping Holt Pond remain one of the last Lakes Region area ponds to remain free of shoreline development.
The Holt Pond Preserve is an ideal Maine wetland to explore. For those new to the area or looking to learn more about Maine wetlands, the preserve was designed to promote education to the public on the importance of wetlands to the overall ecosystem. The LEA has also made it a priority to teach the public on proper behavior when in such a delicate area. Signs are clearly visible among the well marked pathways advising visitors on how to act while on the preserve to ensure that the health of these protected wetlands is sustained. As recent as the fall of 2011, vehicle access past the initial parking lot and down to the canoe launch portion of the riverine system was possible, however this spring large boulders block that pathway downhill. The inability for trucks and ATVs to bypass this area ensures less of an impact from vehicle effluence runoff and shows the LEA's dedication to continued preservation. Disregarding the educational potential of the area, the preserve is an ideal place for any nature lover or interested citizen to visit for a relaxing stroll. There are also several canoes available to the public for use, however be warned that as of Spring 2012 one has a small leak in the nose.
In my time researching the preserve I focused on an area of interest that encompassed most of the publicly accessible trail section as well as the greatest diversity of specific wetland classifications. According to the National Wetlands Inventory and the Maine Natural Communities website, there were 7 different wetland classifications located within the area of interest of my report: A Riverine Wetland, 3 different Freshwater Shrub Wetlands, a Freshwater Emergent Wetland, a Palustrine Wetland (Holt Pond itself), and a Freshwater Forested Wetland. The prospect of seeing several different yet interconnected wetlands along with the ability to explore these areas by canoe, dirt path or boardwalk make Holt Pond Preserve an ideal Maine wetland to visit.
There were 7 different soil types making up the area of interest I chose to research specifically. Of these 7 soil types, two were classified as hydric soils. The first, Ml, is described as Medomak and Wonsqueak soils. It is comprised of inorganic material, primarily silt, and is a fine grain soil letting approximately 50% of liquids pass through. The area comprised of Ml soil is located adjacent to the riverine system, and as such is subject to frequent flooding. The second hydric soil, Wk, is described as Wonsqueak mucky peat and is located directly next to the Ml soils on the opposite side of the riverine system. As hydric soils, these two areas experience flooding or ponding conditions long enough throughout the year to create anaerobic soil conditions in the top soil. These conditions will support hydrophyte growth, as well as give the soils a dark or even black color. These hydric soils together make up a substantial percentage (34.9%) in relation to other soil types within the specific area of interest chosen for this research. The soil type W, which made up 14.3% of the area of research, is located under the Muddy River (riverine) as well as Holt Pond itself. These areas are subject to permanent saturation and/or flooding.
There were also 4 non-hydric soils documented in the area of interest: CgB, MvC, MXC, and PfB. These soils are at higher elevation than the three previous soil types and experience less saturation. MXC, which encompasses the parking lot and area immediately adjacent to it, has a significant slope while the three remaining have an average slope grade between 3 and 15%. CgB is comprised of gravelly, loamy sand, while PfB and MvC are comprised of very fine, sandy loam. The soil of MvC and MXC are also described as very stony, with large boulders and rocks protruding. These non-hydric soil areas are dominated by large Eastern Hemlock.
The major hydrological feature in the preserve is Holt Pond. There are also several riverine systems which feed into the pond, one of which is located in the area of interest for this research (Muddy River). The Muddy River is accessed either by the canoe launch or on a pier-like boardwalk that is part of the trail system and extends over the saturated wetlands which abut the river.
As for slope in the preserve, the entrance and parking lot sit on top of a hill. The grade is steep at first when heading down the trails, however, the slope recedes when reaching the riverine system and both hydric soils contained in the wetland. For all wetland classifications besides the two composed of hydric soils and the pond itself, the depth to water table is greater than 200 cm, which means much of the runoff from higher elevation is slowed by groundwater uptake and saturation. The hydric soils either endure frequent flooding rates (Ml) or frequent ponding (Wk), and have a depth to water table rating of 8 and 0 cm, respectively.
Prominent vegetation in the Holt Pond Preserve varies when moving between the different classifications of wetlands. In the Forested Shrub Wetland located at higher elevation, the dominant tree species is the Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), while other common tree species include White Pine (Pinus strobus) and Red Maple (Acer rubrum). Other dominant plant species in this wetland include the Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis), Sensitive Fern (Onoclea), Goldthread (Coptis trifolia), and Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense).
In two of the Freshwater Shrub Wetlands, PSS3E and PSS3/FO53, as well as in the Freshwater Emergent Wetland, plant-life is dominated by smaller water-tolerant shrubs and herbs. Common species in these regions include Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia), Sweetgale (Myrica gale), Rhodera (Rhododendron canadense), Cottongrass (Eriophorum virginicum), and Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia purpurea). The third Freshwater Shrub Wetland had very similar plant life, however it was littered with dead or dying trees such as Alders (Alnus rugosa) and Black Spruce (Picea mariana). This wetland also had a large amount of Bog Aster (Oclemena nemoralis) and White Beak-Rush (Rhynchospora alba).
On my several visits to Holt Pond Preserve, there were signs of a variety of wildlife. As the pond and surrounding area have been protected for approximately 40 years, native wildlife has been allowed to flourish without noticeable impact. Signs of beaver activity are plentiful in the area, with small dams along the sides of the Muddy River and many tunnels through the peat on its edges. Several turtles were spotted, as well as signs of amphibian life (frog eggs) and a multitude of bird species. The forested section of the wetland is littered with holes that could be home to a variety of animals, most likely squirrels, chipmunks and foxes. It can be assumed that there are deer in the area as well as other small mammals such as raccoons, rabbits and fisher cats, however none were seen on my visit.
Visiting The Wetland
Holt Pond Preserve is located in Bridgton, ME near the causeway separating Long Lake and Sebago Lake. If traveling west on Route 302 out of Windham or Raymond, drive through the causeway area and approximately 2 miles past will be a left turn on Perley Rd. Travel about a mile down Perley Rd until the paved road veers left, at which point go straight onto a dirt road instead of following the pavement. Several hundred yards ahead will be a left turn onto Grist Mill Road which is clearly marked with both a road sign and a sign welcoming visitors to the Holt Pond Preserve. Grist Mill Road ends at the parking lot for the preserve, which is marked by several large boulders, a large wooden sign with rules and a trail map, and a semi-enclosed bathroom area.
The trail area is mostly dirt, however there is a section which is essentially a boardwalk made of boards and tires. Boots are suggested, but if weather has been dry they might be unnecessary. There are 2 canoes available to the public, however, one is in very rough shape and neither have high quality paddles. Life preservers are few and in rough condition. There is a trail from which you can walk your own canoe down to the river if you so choose to bring one, but driving it down the path to the waters edge is not permitted. Fishing is permitted. Bicycles, ATVs and other motor equipment are not allowed at Holt Pond Preserve. For more information on the preserve, please visit http://mainelakes.org/?p=3016.
Wetland Information and Photos by Sean M. Allen, University of Southern Maine Undergraduate, Class of 2013.
Last Updated on 24 April 2012, by SMA
Maine Department of Environmental Protection, 2011. Wetlands Community Key. Retrieved from www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mnap/features/communitykey.
United States Department of Agriculture, 2012. USDA Plant Database. Retrieved from www.usda.gov/wetlands.Lakes Environmental Association, 2012. Holt Pond. Retrieved from http://mainelakes.org/?p=3016.
United States Department of Agriculture, 2012. Web Soil Survey. Retrieved from http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/.