Ipcar and Round the Cove Management
The Georgetown Conservation Commission is responsible for managing Georgetown’s two municipal forests: the 33-acre Ipcar Natural Preserve in the Five Islands community, and the 30-acre Round the Cove forest behind the Georgetown Historical Society and the transfer station on Bay Point Rd.
The Ipcar Preserve is actually two forest tracts, separated by Old Schoolhouse Rd. The tract on the east side (surrounded by Old Schoolhouse Rd.) is dominated by mature spruce of about 90-100 years old. The spruce are growing on very thin soils, characteristic of much of Georgetown, and are beginning to blow down. Blowdown is becoming an increasing problem for coastal communities all along the Maine coast. This is because many of the coastal forests were established in pastures that were abandoned about 100 years ago. The spruce are even-aged, and now nearing the end of their natural life expectancy. The problem has been exacerbated by increasingly violent storms and micro-bursts which may be the result of global warming.
In 2013 with funding from Project Canopy, a professional forester hired by the Conservation Commission completed an assessment of management options for both Ipcar and Round the Cove.
One option for Ipcar was to preemptively harvest the spruce before a catastrophic blowdown event could occur. At a public meeting to consider the options in April of 2014, residents expressed a strong preference to let nature take its course rather than intervene in any way, in spite of the potential fire hazard created by leaving the many fallen trees.
In addition to the potential public safety hazard, this has made it challenging to maintain a trail system at Ipcar Preserve. However, in 2018 Conservation Commission work teams, with help from Bowdoin College seniors participating in Bowdoin’s Common Good Day, cleared, groomed and marked a trail system, which was re-opened in September with suitable fanfare. You are welcome to visit Ipcar and enjoy the surprise of this high wooded area in the midst of bustling Five Islands, with its mosses, small pond, and distant view of the Sheepscot. If you park at the Five Islands Town lot, the trail starts behind the municipal tennis court. Georgetown volunteers clear the trails of winter blowdown every spring.
Round the Cove trailhead is located behind the Georgetown Historical Society on Bay Point Road; at its southern end it also connects to the trail system at the Josephine Newman Sanctuary. Several loop trails allow access to Robinhood Cove, an historic cemetery, and wind through the Georgetown Central School ropes course (the equipment is off limits to the public). During two weekends in September 2019, an impressive array of Georgetown volunteers completed a major project to replace the rotted out bog bridging, rake leaves and debris from the trails, and reblaze trail markings. Before: After:
Special thanks to additional student volunteers from Bowdoin’s Common Good Day, as well as John Copeland of Kennebec Trails.In spring of 2020, Georgetown volunteers began a program to eradicate invasive barberry from Round the Cove. We will need to keep after it in the coming seasons.
And in fall of 2020, some structures were added to facilitate outdoor instruction at Georgetown Central School, at least while COVID-19 precautions are in place. Lillian Reid left her property – now part of the Round the Cove forest – to Georgetown with the provision that “said premises are to be used, whenever possible, for and in conjunction with the operation of the Georgetown school or schools; for the use of the students and faculty in furtherance of environmental and conservation purposes or studies. For this purpose, the premises are to be maintained in as natural a state as is practical, and consistent with the uses and purposes herein and hereby expressed.” In 1973, when the Town accepted Lillian Reid’s bequest, no-one could have imagined the pandemic of 2020. How appropriate that her bequest has such practical meaning today!
The Conservation Commission always welcomes help with trail maintenance!