MACHIAS, Maine — A group of University of Maine at Machias botany students are working with Director Rich Bard of the Downeast Coastal Conservancy to develop a management plan for the 126-acre Pike Lands property in Lubec.
Don’t think for a minute, however, that this is a project working at a desk or sitting in front of a computer. These students are out on the trails, often in snow and ice, to implement the plan by clearing trails, moving downed trees and creating interpretive trail signs.
The Pike Lands are an ecologically unique series of trails, coastline, and an arboretum. Kentucky Coffee Tree, Dawn Redwood, and Golden Chain Tree are not the typical plant species found along the Maine coast. However, thanks to the efforts of the late Dr. Radcliffe Pike, a respected naturalist and professor of horticulture, these unique botanical anomalies and many others can be found at The Pike Lands. Pike was a world traveler and often brought seeds and other plants home to Lubec with him, creating the arboretum in the 1960s.
“Dr. Pike’s land was conserved by Downeast Coastal Conservancy (known as Quoddy Regional Land Trust at the time) and the Regional Medical Center at Lubec in 2005,’’ DCC Director Rich Bard said. “The property, known as the Pike Lands, was once a popular place for Lubeckers to picnic and enjoy the array of flowering azaleas, rhododendrons, and unusual trees. Over the past three years, DCC has been working to revitalize the Pike Land Arboretum by clearing around the plants and erecting signs to educate visitors about the collection.”
Students participating in the conservation project include Vanessa Kidder, Colleen Hendricks, Meagan Peterson, Tanesha Pottle, and Anne Favolise. They worked with UMM Professors Dr. Eric Jones and Dr. Ellen Hostert.
“The work we are doing at Pike Lands focuses on the Arboretum trail there, which is home to a number of exotic trees and shrubs Radcliff Pike planted as an experiment,” UMM Student Favolise said. “We have created a plant care sheet for these specimens noting light and water requirements and potential pests and diseases.”
Malcolm MacDonald, a student involved in UMM herbarium work study, went through a large plant collection database looking for the coordinates of native plants that were collected from Pike lands by UMM students over the years. The group of current students then created signs identifying these plants as well as interpretive signs for the bog and tidal area.
During several work days, the student collected trash on the property, cleared brambles and impediments from the Arboretum Trail and Cove Trail. A downed tree was removed from the trail and standing deadwood was cut down. Later this month, the students will be spreading a large load of woodchips on the trail.
Bard praised the group of students for their efforts. “This ambitious and energetic group of students are not only writing a management plan to guide our future care of the plants, they have been actively working on the property, improving the existing arboretum trail and planning for a volunteer work day to create a mulched path around the arboretum,” he said.