Welcome to the Tannery Brook Wetland!
Figure 1. Unnamed drainage pond in the Northwest tip of the Tannery Brook wetland. Photo taken 4/04/2012 at sunset.
This wetland is located in the middle of the Tannery Brook watershed. Wetlands make up 2% of the entire watershed. The majority of this wetland area surrounds the unnamed dam overflow pond in the watershed. Tannery brook provides the majority of the water that enters this wetland flowing from the southwest to the northeast. This wetland is located northeast of the Gorham campus of USM and northwest of a community of homes along Route 202. Also, in the northeast section of this wetland is an unnamed pond that pools water from Tannery Brook due to a dam. Tannery Brook Wetland, according to literature and NWI, is a cross between a forested swamp and a shrub swamp, depending on which area you're in.
The wetland contains four different hydric soils that are formed under conditions of flooding, saturation, or ponding long enough during the growing season to develop anaerobic conditions in the upper part. Most plants can’t live in hydric soils because of the lack of oxygen in the soil due to high saturation levels.
The depth to the water table is variable along the wetland with flooding frequency and ponding frequency both being very uniform over the wetland, with exceptions to small areas in the southern section. This wetland has Tannery Brook running through, feeding into an unnamed pond that is dammed. The pond slowly drains into a smaller pond where it continues flowing out into Tannery Brook. The Brook eventually feeds into the Casco Bay Watershed.There were areas of the wetland where water was stagnant with variable to no flow (Figure 2).
On my visit to the wetland there was very little growing vegetation due to the recent cold weather. I could identify only a few plants because of my lack of vegetation expertise. Determining the type of plants I was seeing was difficult because most of the plants were quite dead from the winter, but even so there were some I could decipher. I wasn't able to see a lot of the expected vegetation but this is probably because it is too early in the season for the plants to sprout.
Figure 3. Cattails near the unnamed pond in the north east tip of the Tannery Brook wetland in the evening around sunset. Photo taken on 4/04/2012
Figure 4. Sensitive Fern near the unnamed pond in the Tannery Brook wetland around sunset next to cattails. Photo taken on 4/04/2012
Expected vegetation using NWI:
Wildlife and Interesting Facts
While visiting the wetland I saw several mallard ducks and the remnants of a beaver dam (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Remnants of a Beaver Dam in the southwest section of Tannery Brook wetland at 4pm. Photo taken on 4/01/2012
A substantial report, conducted by Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District, was created for protection of the Tannery Brook Watershed. The Tannery Brook Wetland is right in the middle of the watershed making the report important to the health of the wetland. The goal of this project was to gather local input and devise specific strategies to protect Tannery Brook and its water quality for future generations. The project was guided by a Steering Committee comprised of interested and concerned volunteers from the watershed community, town representatives, and staff from the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District and Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
objectives were to eliminate or reduce existing sources of polluted storm water
runoff; prevent future problems from occurring throughout the watershed; build consensus; implement long term strategies for raising public awareness
and involvement in stream and watershed protection practices; establish a
coalition of organizations to promote responsible ATV use and ownership of the
resource; pursue financial resources necessary to implement the objectives of
the watershed management plan; assess the effectiveness of the watershed
management plan and make periodic changes or adjustments as required; and
continue to monitor the quality of Tannery Brook.
In 2004, the Cumberland County
Soil & Water Conservation District and the Town of Gorham conducted a
survey with help from local volunteers and technical staff to identify,
document and prioritize existing erosion sources in the watershed. The project
was funded in part by the Maine DEP through a USEPA Nonpoint Source Grant under
Section 319 of the Federal Clean Water Act.
A concrete and earthen dam was installed around the midpoint of Tannery Brook in the mid 1950’s through a USDA Soil Conservation Service farm program. This agricultural program was designed to assist local farms with irrigation and livestock watering needs. In 1998, the dam was breached and provides no current use (Rapid Stream Habitat/Geomorphology Surveys).
Visiting the Wetland
The main access point is 1/2 mile down Route 202. Turn left onto Wentworth Drive, same road as a Gorham Savings Bank. At the end of the road is the Tannery Brook park with trails that go right by the unnamed pond in the northeast section of the wetland. There aren't clear trails that circumnavigate the wetland, but with some heavy boots and tick repellant (highly recommended) you should be able to make your way through the thickest of the woods to enter the center of the wetland. The water is high in some areas so waders are also recommended. The unnamed pond is a great area to bring friends and family, especially around sunset, and with its closeness to a parking lot and cell phone availability, safety is not a significant worry.
Wetland information and photos taken by Andrew Fournier, Department of Environmental Science, class of 2014.
Last updated on April 24th by Andrew Fournier (A.F. 24/04/2012)