Trails to explore this fall

The summer heat is finally over and the bugs are in fewer numbers. A perfect time to get outside and enjoy a walk!

SVLT conserves over 1,200 acres in the Lower Saco River Valley. We manage wetlands, agricultural lands, riparian zones, and trails. Some of our properties have marked paths open to the public. Learn more about them below!

Apple Ridge

Nothing quite says fall like apple picking! Apple Ridge is a small property located off of William Ave in Saco. While appropriately named for it’s old apple orchard, the trees are not pruned so there is no guarantee as to the quality of apples.

Please to considerate while parking on this cul-de-sac road. Do not block driveways or park on lawns of the neighboring properties.

If you are interested in helping us maintain this orchard, please let us know! We are seeking a volunteer orchard manager. Contact Abby at

Middle Goosefare

This trail system is managed by Saco Bay Trails. It features a picnic area with tables and benches. One can bring a lunch and enjoy the view of a wetland.

There are two parking areas. The southern trailhead is located by the Eastern Trail John R Andrews pedestrian bridge. Additional parking is found behind the Citgo gas station off of Route 1 in Saco.

Thurston Mill

This property is located in North Saco off of Watson Mill Rd. A small trail leads from the road to the Nonesuch River. A kiosk  exists off of the road which describes the history of the property and features images of original Thurston family members. There is also a monument at the trailhead.

Across the street from this kiosk and monument, you can access another short trail on the Nonesuch property. This trail eventually leads to a loop with a waterfall. Currently (2023), we are replacing the bridge over the Ricker Brook.

Moses Woodman Preserve

This property features 1.5 miles of walking paths. The main trail begins at the gate at the parking area. It continues down to the Saco River where you can sit and take in the view on a bench or read about the Saco River Watershed.

Wildflowers, like this Fringed milkwort pictured above, and berries are all around in the spring and summer at Woodman. Bald eagles and songbirds can be seen throughout the property and especially along the river.

All are welcome

We allow recreating all year around including snowshoeing, cross country skiing, nature study, and hiking. Your dog can tag along but they must be leashed. You can visit these trails for no fee, 365 days of the year.

If you love these trails, consider making a donation or giving back by helping out!

Common Invasive Species in the Lower Saco River Valley

Standard Practices

  • Ensure you have properly identified an invasive species before removing. Use Maine DACF fact sheets, field guides, or smart phone apps such as Seek.
  • Fruits and flowers should always be bagged
  • Toss woody stems and branches off of trails, riparian zones, streams, and sensitive habitats.

Effective tools: Use loppers, clippers, hand saw, axe, pick axe, pick mattock, spade shovel.

Other supplies includes work gloves, eye protection, black bags/leaf & litter bags, Buckthorn Baggies.

Identification & Control Methods

Asiatic Bittersweet
Celastrus orbiculatus

  • Climbing vine can grow 50 feet long
  • Fruits have yellow seed covers with reddish orange inner berries
  • Flowers are 5-petaled and greenish yellow
  • Leaves are teardrop shaped and serrated

Control methods:

  • Window cut for large vines– make a cut on the stem at chest height and another at ankle height
  • Smaller vines– persistent cutting and digging up roots-  6x/yr for 3 yrs


Morrow’s honeysuckle
Lonicera morrowii

  • Can grow up to 10 feet tall and wide
  • Red berries
  • White flowers
  • Leaves are egg shaped or oval shaped and edges are not serrated

Control methods:

  • Persistent cutting or burning of the root crown/digging up roots
  • Will need to get entire stump out of soil or cover with black bag


Japanese Knotweed
Fallopia japonica

  • Base of leaf is heart shaped
  • Can grow up to 12 feet tall
  • Pithy/hollow stalk, like bamboo
  • Small white flowers arranged in spikes along the stem

Control methods:

  • Remove by chopping at ground level with loppers or axe
  • For vast areas– you can pile the cut stalks on top of live ones and slowly cut off from sun exposure
  • Smother with tarps or landscaping cloth


Multiflora Rose
Rosa multiflora

  • Leaves are serrated and small, only 1 inch long
  • Flowers are small (1 inch wide), white, and clustered on twig tips
  • Shrub but can grow up to 20 feet tall

Control methods:

  • Persistent cutting and digging up roots is necessary
  • Can be mowed or grazed by sheep and goats


Glossy Buckthorn
Frangula alnus

  • Glossy leaves are 2 to 4 inches long
  • Berries are green, red, or purple-black
  • Single stemmed tree can each 20 feet in height

Control methods:

  • Persistent cutting or burning of the root crown, and digging up roots
  • Will need to get entire stump out of soil or cover with black bag (Buckthorn Baggy is recommended)


Japanese Barberry
Berberis thunbergii

  • This shrub can be up to 6 feet wide and tall
  • Very sharp and long spines along stem
  • Leaves are small (1 inch) with a smooth edge and turn red in fall
  • Oblong red berries appear in the late summer

Control methods:

  • Pull up small plants with root attached if possible
  • Mowing and fire may also be used
  • Wear gloves when removing!

Want to learn in the field? Volunteer!

Email Abby to learn more about volunteering to remove invasives.

Check out the PDF Guide below

Invasive guide

A Walk at Moses Woodman

Moses Woodman, located off of Simpson Road in Buxton, is a great place to a walk. This preserve features an extensive trail system which leads to the Saco River. The property also has multiple benches where you can sit and listen to the river. Many interesting species of plants grow here including wildflowers, berries, and trees.


Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)- Maine is the Northern extent of this tree’s range. As you wander down the trail at Woodman you’ll notice mature hickories by their vertical peeling bark.


American hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)- In the Birch family, this tree is also called Ironwood due to the wood’s hardiness. Notice the hop-like fruit that grows on the branches.


Dogbane Leaf Beetle (Chrysochus auratus)- These beetles are flashy and iridescent because they are poisonous due to their tendency to graze on milkweed- which has a poisonous milky sap.


Chicken-of-the-woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)- This mushroom does not look very appetizing after bugs have made it their a meal. When found fresh, this fungus is edible.


Fringed milkwort (Polygala paucifolia)- Many see this flower on the trailside and think it’s an orchid. It is said to increase milk production in mammals and was apparently used medicinally to treat skin inflamations.


Northern starflower (Lysimachia borealis)- A member of the primrose family, it’s leaves are arranged in whirls around the stem. The flower, true to its name, is shaped as a star.


Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)- It’s easy to identify these plants when they are fruiting but many do not know what the flower looks like. The plants grow low to the ground and the flowers are small, white, and have five petals.


Wood anemone (Anemonoides nemorosa)- This woodland plant is in the buttercup family. It’s leaves are sectioned into 5 parts, as are the flower’s petals. ‘Anemone’ refers to the Latin ‘windflower’ because it’s seeds are dispersed by wind.


These are some of the flowers, fungi, mosses, and trees you will run into at the Moses Woodman Preserve. You can also expect to see chipmunks, squirrels, as well as animal scats and tracks. Keep your eyes peeled when you visit this property- there is so much to see and explore!

Photo credit: Abby Wilson

Thurston Mill is a great example of why you should conserve your land

Thurston Mill is an SVLT property in North Saco but it’s so much more than a place to hike. It features a monument and an informational kiosk with photos of original family members.

The kiosk at Thurston Mill, restored by Anatole Brown and Tom Ledue, features photos of male and female Thurstons.

The Thurston Family was one of many that harnessed the power of the Nonesuch River to produce goods.

Generations of Thurstons operated the mill and decades later several members of the family remain in the Saco area.

Thurston family members visited the site during an informational walk at the property in June 2023.

Saco Valley Land Trust celebrated this family by partnering with the Saco Museum and Dyer Library to present the history of Thurston Mill.

This series consisted of a presentation at the Dyer Library where museum educator, Anatole Brown, talked about the Thurston family and brought several artifacts to share.


SVLT and the Saco Museum led a group (which consisted of several Thurston family members) on a walk of the property located at Watson Mill Rd in North Saco.

Eighteen people attended the walk to learn about the Thurston legacy.

SVLT proudly preserves land and history. The Thurston family is excited to have this site to return to and enjoys telling stories of what the land used to be like.

If you or your family has a property that you would like to conserve- for wildlife, agriculture, people, or history- contact Saco Valley Land Trust to discuss the future of your land. Email us at

Famous LGBTQ+ Environmentalists

Happy Pride Month! Celebrate by learning about current and past queer environmentalists.

Pattie Gonia

This drag queen uses her powers for good! Pattie Gonia (aka Wyn Wiley) wears sustainable fashion pieces and produces hilarious videos for social media to spread awareness of the climate crisis. Pattie is also the founder of the non profit The Outdoorist Oath. View Pattie Gonia’s channel HERE.

Rachel Carson

Everyone knows that Carson was a world renowned conservationist and helped spark the environmental movement, but not many realize she was part of the queer community.  She met Dorothy Freeman when she was living on Southport Island in midcoast Maine. While many still debate their relationship, it is apparent that the two shared a rich friendship. You can read more in the book Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman.

Pinar Sinopoulos-Lloyd

Pinar is a queer environmentalist and indigenous advocate. They co-founded Queer Nature, a non profit dedicated to delivering naturalist studies to LGBTQ+, non binary people, and allies. They are also a member of the Diversity Outdoors Coalition, a trans ambassador of Native Women’s Wilderness, and the 2020 recipient of the National Environmental Champion award from the Audubon National Society.

Spring Excitement

The winter brings a natural slowness to the day, and a stillness to the night. We stay in more often than not, but when we step outside the earth feels relaxed, gently spinning in slow-motion. Fewer birds are chirping, and less visual noise too. The eyes adjust to this monomorphic landscape. Snow covers the brownness of the earth and trees with only the burnt yellow beech leaves breaking up the brown and white.

Green is the first color we see in the spring, as the snow melts and the earth is revitalized. Yellow is the next, with dandelions littering the grass, and purple too, as the lilacs begin to bloom.
The world awakens after a long sleep through frigid weather. Brightness returns to the land as birds arrive and flash their new plumage.

Soon, full spectrums will reveal themselves as summer’s long days and rays give life to floral bodies. We will watch as green dominates the panorama. Grasses grow taller; deciduous trees bright with new leaves. The bounty of a field will be unbroken, yielding yellows, blues, purples, and greens.

What are you most excited for this time of the year?


Abby Wilson | Event and Outreach Organizer



Celebrate Earth Day

Since 1970, we have been celebrating the planet and environmental successes.

Earth Day was invented to put environmental issues on the front page of the national agenda. The first year, over 20 million people demonstrated support for mother nature. This served as the catalyst for environmental policy and later that year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was created.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Several environmental policies were then enacted including the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Water Pollution and Control Act Amendments, the Resource Recovery Act, and many more.

To view the many milestones, from the 1960s to today, visit the EPA’s website! Also check out the EPA trivia game!

Fast forward 53 years and there are many ways to celebrate Earth Day!


Join SVLT and other organizations at the McArthur Library on Earth Day from 10 to 2 for an Earth Day Celebration. We will have games, prizes, crafts,  a clothing swap, information booths, presentations, guided walks, city cleanups, a group bike ride, and more!

Help clean up public lands! Saco Parks and Recreation is hosting a city-wide clean up on Friday, April 21st. You can sign up to help pick up garbage and prepare for spring activities at the local parks.

Biddeford Parks and Rec will also be hosting a public parks clean up. Join them for breakfast and the volunteer event on April 22nd! Register here.

After you participate in a clean up or get inspired by one of the many speakers from the Earth Day Celebration, head over to Portland and catch the Maine Outdoor Film Festival screening of The Original Mother.

Consider donating or volunteering! There is no bigger way to show your support for mother earth than contributing to a local environmental organization. Learn more about giving to SVLT on the How You Can Help tab.

Women in Conservation

Men are often labelled as the important shapers and changemakers in the conservation movement. Thoreau, Roosevelt, and Emerson are all names that spark thoughts of natural preservation. Here are the women that played major roles in the environmental movement and  are currently working in conservation.


To celebrate trailblazing women in history during the month of March, let’s remember the leading ladies in conservation!

Rachel Carson

Author of Silent Spring, Carson was a huge advocate for regulating chemicals. She exploited the lethal effects of pesticides such as DDT on bird and insect populations. In 1966, Maine opened the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge which consists of 50 coastal miles and 11 divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth.


Margaret “Mardy” Murie

Murie is often considered the “Grandmother of Conservation”. She grew up in Alaska and was the first woman to graduate from the University of Alaska. Adventurer and advocate, Murie played a major role int the creation of the Wilderness Act and designation of the Arctic National Wildlife Range.


Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby

Born in 1854 in Phillips, Crosby is known as Maine’s first licensed guide. She was considered a great angler in the Rangeley area and wrote a newspaper column called ““Fly Rod’s Note Book”. In 1895, she attended a Sportsmen’s Exposition in New York City and helped promote tourism in Maine.




Conservation looks a bit different today than during it’s inception 200 plus years ago. Let’s take a look at the women behind science, policy, and creativity!

Rue Mapp

Founder of Outdoor Afro, Mapp is dedicated to making the outdoors a safe and accessible space for all. Her organization focuses on Black leadership and connection to nature. Mapp is a National Geographic fellow and serves are multiple conservation initiative boards.


Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Johnson is the co-editor of All We Can Save,  a book about the climate crisis from different perspectives. She also co-created the podcast How to Save a Planet, which addresses both policy and science. Johnson has appeared on TED talks, is an accomplished writer, and is currently president and co-founder of Urban Ocean Lab- “a think tank for the future of coastal cities”.

Sandy Ritchie

Ritchie began her career as a biologist with Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. In the 1980s, she and one other were the only women employed by the state as biologists. She never had a female role model in science to look up to. With out any intention, she paved a trail for future women in conservation.

Winter Conifers

Conifers of Maine

Coniferous trees! Do they all look the same? Read more and find out how to identify species of evergreen, all year around.

Pine needles are grown in clusters off of branches and the number of needles per bunch can help you identify the species. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) has 5 needles per cluster, Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) has 3, and Red Pine (Pinus resinosa) has 2 needles per bunch.

Color can be tricky to use as a distinguishing factor, however at times it is helpful. Eastern white pine needles have a bluish green hue, while Red pines have a dark green needle, and Pitch pines are much more greenish yellow.

Maine is home to one deciduous conifer- a tree that has needles which fall off in the autumn. The Eastern tamarack (Larix laricina), also known as larch, or hackmatack, is a softwood found scattered throughout the state. It occurs in cool and swampy environments with well-drained soils. The needles grow off the branch in clusters or spurs of 8 needles. They turn bright yellow in September before they fall. The short cones grow off of the branch which then open up to spread winged seeds all over the ground below the tree in autumn.

There are three Spruce species in the state- Black (Picea mariana), Red (Picea rubens), and White (Picea glauca). You can use characteristics of the needles to identify them. Black spruce needles are bluish in color with no shininess. Red spruce needles have very shiny needles and White spruce are not shiny but have a strong odor when crushed between your fingers.

You may also use the shapes of the cones to help distinguish the trees. Black spruces have spherical cones, the red spruce cones are wide in the middle, while the white spruce has cylindrical cones.

Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) is another iconic species in the north woods of Maine but does occur state wide. This fir grows in a sharp spire with very regular whirls for branches, giving the tree stunning symmetry. The bark has blemishes filled with pitch or sap. This resin is so sticky it was once used to mount microscope slides and was used in theater costume making. It’s symmetry as well as aromatic needles make it an easy choice for a Christmas tree.

Eastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) typically dominate moist and cool habitats of Maine. This semi shade-tolerant species has scaly bark that can have a reddish-brown hue or be mostly gray. The leaves are flat which is a major difference between this tree and a spruce. The needles are yellowish green with white on the bottom.

Atlantic white-cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) is a common species in low areas or bogs. It can be found as far south as York County. It is a short tree- rarely found over 40 feet- with short branches and has scaly leaves which are arranged in fanlike structures. These white-cedar needles emit an odor when crushed. Its cones are small and have a purplish hue before maturity. The wood is also quite fragrant and is light brown in color.

Need some more help with conifer ID? Head over to Maine Forest Service’s identification guide!