Welcome to the Unity Cedar Bog!
The wetland that I visited has no particular name. It is located in Unity Maine, east of Unity Pond. The bog is mostly dominated by White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis), and therefore is a Northern White Cedar Bog, to be specific. The wetland is part of a 100 acre lot owned by a relative. I have hunted the area for many years, and as a result I already had
substantial knowledge of the bog and the area around it before doing this project. The bog itself is located at the bottom of a big ridge. Running through the center of the bog is a small brook known as Bither's Brook, which provides the area with a great amount of water. The bog has been classified as a palustrine-forested environment by the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI). This particular bog is a great example of its kind, because is it relatively secluded from human interference. Except for the hunting that takes place, and a small cutting located at the southern edge of the bog, it is undisturbed by humans.
Fig 1: The cedar bog, as seen from the bottom of the ridge.
Unlike other wetlands, this bog is limited to only a few kinds of soils: 4 in total. Of those four soils, only one is considered to be hydric; the rest are considered to be non-hydric soils. The non hydric soils are located on the edges of the bog, and on the ridge leading down to the bog. These soils are never flooded or ponded, and consist mostly of stony silt and loam. The one hydric soil found in the bog is known as Borosaprist soil. It is frequently flooded and ponded with water, which is due to the brook running through the center of the bog.
The properties of the non-hydric soils and the hydric soils located in the bog differed greatly. First, the water table depth was much higher in the hydric, Borosaprist soils, than in the non-hydric, loamy soils located on the ridge near the bog. The Borosaprist soils near the brook were also classified as being flooded and ponded "frequently". This is fairly obvious, because a brook is running through the center of the bog. The non-hydric soils had no rating for either flooding or ponding, meaning that these soils never experience either effect.
It should be noted that Unity Pond is located approximately 10 miles west of the bog, which plays a huge role in sustaining the bogs of Unity. As stated before, Bither's Brook runs through the center of the bog, providing the area with a substantial amount of water. This water allows for anoxic conditions in the soils, which slows decomposition, allowing the build-up of organic material.
Fig 2: The Bither's Brook runs through the center of the bog, providing the bog with its water.
A couple species of vegetation dominated the bog. The dominating tree in the bog, by far, was the Northern White Cedar (T. occidentalist). There was also the occasional Balsam Fir (Abies Balsamea) scattered among the cedars. On an interesting note, a fair amount of adolescent Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) trees were found in the bog. This is a possible sign of a future dominant species in the bog. The floor of the bog was almost completely covered in peat moss (Sphagnum girgensohnii), which has developed as a result of the build-up of organic materials.
Figure 3 (left): Many adolescent Hemlocks were found in the bog, foreshadowing a new dominant species in the future.
Figure 4 (right): The bog floor was almost completely covered in peat moss such as this. The clover-like leaves growing out of the moss has yet to be identified.
Table 1: Expected and observed vegetation of Northern White Cedar bogs in Unity, Maine.
I personally did not encounter any organisms (other than the vegetation) on my trips to the bog. I did, however, find evidence of the presence of a couple species of animal in the bog. I first found evidence of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), in the form of scat, found in various parts of the bog. This is to be expected, because deer will often hide in thick vegetation, like the vegetation found in this bog, for protection against predators and the weather. Evidence was also found that beavers inhabit the bog, in the form of a tree that was nearly gnawed down (Fig 5). This is an important discovery, because beavers greatly alter their environments by damming streams and rivers, which in turn can affect the hydrology of the beaver's habitat.
Figure 5: Beavers can have a big effect on the flow of water in the streams they choose to dam.
Visiting the wetlandUnfortunately, this particular bog is located on private property, and access is restricted to those who have permission from the owner of the property. Because my relatives and I use this area to hunt, it is often restricted to others. On a brighter note, Unity is home to countless other white cedar bogs that are owned by the town, which grants public access to them. Access to these bogs can be found at various points along Route 139, which takes one into Unity from Winslow, Maine. It is recommended that rugged boots be worn, due to the tough walking encountered in these bogs. Note of caution, this area is a very popular hunting spot during many seasons of the year. Species such as White-tailed Deer, turkey, partridge, and coyote are all commonly hunted in this area. Should you decide to visit these bogs during any of these seasons, take extra precautions to make yourself visible (for example, during rifle season for deer, you should always be wearing at least two articles of florescent orange clothing at all times when you are in the woods).
Wetland information and photos by David Poulin, Department of Environmental Science
Last updated on 10 May 2012 by CHVB