MAINE MEMORIES: Five old crows, plus one

image credit: British Pest Control Association

by Evangeline T.

Hello and welcome to Maine Memories, little snippets of life from our home state.

Spring has sprung, and the weather is much milder. Keep your fingers crossed that snow season is finally behind us…there’s always something interesting going on outside when May flowers bloom.

For this installment, here’s a true story about some old crows and how they’ve been paying me regular daily visits.

Each morning, for the last 14 years, I’ve thrown two slices of crumbled bread and some leftovers out onto my driveway to feed five old crows.

Now, you might ask, just how do I know these crows are always the same and not different? Well, believe me, I know them, and they know me.

If I’m not out my door with breakfast by 6:30 or 7 a.m., I’ll hear them cawing. They’ll sit in a tall elm tree at the end of my long drive, screaming until I appear. And when I do, they’re happy and excited.

These crows are a kind of family. This spring, there were four, and I assumed the worst. Then I noticed one kept filling his beak with pieces of bread, and when full, he’d fly away, return, and do it again.

Later in time, there were five adult crows, accompanied by a smaller one – more than likely a youngster. Now, I understood. The crow flying off with food had been feeding his mate, while she was busy egg-sitting.

At first, the young bird stood off to the side and waited for the adult to bring him something. This only lasted a short time before he got the message. Hurry up and snatch the food yourself, or you’ll go hungry.

So, now there are six crows, altogether.

It’s interesting to watch their different breakfast habits. One will delicately eat a single piece, not moving around much. Another will gather three or four chunks in his beak, head for the elm tree, where he sits and eats alone. The third picks up three or four pieces, flies about six feet away, dropping most of them. He still eats a full meal, though! The others walk around, poking at what’s left and getting the most they can.

One crow has what looks like white paint all over a wing. He must’ve brushed against a barn that was being painted. I think it’s distinctive!

What a pleasure, watching them every day – six smart crows doing their thing and living a simple life to the fullest. They never fight or steal food, like other birds. They’re just one happy family of old crows, plus one youngster. I’m so glad they flew into my life!



by the late Milt Huntington

Jet planes streaking through the sky
Leave their contrails there to die.
We who watch them from below
Can only wonder where they go.

We hear their disappearing sound
As it echoes dimly to the ground.
From west to east and east to west
They travel headlong to their nest.

Birds of silver, birds of white
Travel swiftly day and night.
Like an arrow through the blue
They fly away from me and you.

We can only watch and say:
“They’ll be back another day.”
When they land, we’ll be right here
To see the contrails reappear.

GROWING YOUR BUSINESS: Always be asking for references, referrals, recommendations, and endorsements

Growing your businessby Dan Beaulieu
Business consultant

The very best way to grow your business is to get other people talking about you in a good way. Your customers bragging about your products and services to their friends, neighbors and family is the very best way to gain new customers, without a doubt.

Think about that. What do you do when you are considering buying a new car? You’ll ask someone who already has one, right? I mean you won’t just ask people you know, you’ll stop, and ask complete strangers in the Hannaford parking lot what they think of their car, if it’s the same brand that you are thinking of buying. Why do you think so many car commercials feature real people talking about how much they love their new car?

What about choosing a contractor, or a painter, or a plumber? You always ask the people around you who they can recommend and why they recommend them? Most of the time, if people have had a great experience, they’ll be happy to talk about it and even try to convince you to use the same people they used to the point where it is almost like they want you to join the cult.
The same applies to restaurants. People love telling other people about a great meal they had at that new Italian restaurant down in Winthrop, right?

People love telling people about great products, and services, and yes, meals, they have experienced.

But you as a business owner cannot be satisfied to just sit back and wait for those endorsements to come your way. You have to find a way to get those referrals about your company to come to you on a regular basis.

Obviously, the best way to get great referrals is to be the best. The best car dealer, the best contractor, the best restaurant. That is a given. But many times, that is not enough. Sure, many people, your customers will be happy, even delighted with what you are selling, but that is not enough. You have to be intentional in your quests for referrals. You have to ask for those recommendations. And if you go about it the right way, your customers will be more than happy to provide them.

Here are a few suggestions to seek and get referrals from your customers:

  • Right after you have completed a service or sold a product, and the customer is delighted, ask him for written endorsement for your sales literature.
  • If you are a contractor, ask the happy customer if you can take photos of your work to show prospective customers and, yes, ask again for the customer to give you an endorsement and also a reference.
  • Offer your customers small incentives. A gift card to a coffee shop, for example, if they will refer you to the people in their own network.

Sales expert Jennifer Gluckow said it best in her book Sales in a New York Minute. In today’s social world, the repeat customer, the recommended customer, and the referred customer are the heart of business success.

Whatever you do always be asking for references, referrals, recommendations, and endorsements from your delighted customers. It is without a doubt the best way to grow your business.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Granges – Part 5

The curtain on the stage of the Windsor Grange. (contributed photo)

North Vassalboro, Cushnoc, Windsor, Winslow

by Mary Grow

In addition to the East Vassalboro Grange discussed last week, Vassalboro had two other Grange organizations. According to Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history, the earliest of the three was Oak Grove Grange #167, organized in North Vassalboro on May 11, 1875.

In 1883, Alma Pierce Robbins wrote, Oak Grove Grange was “reorganized” at Getchell’s Corner, then an important village. Kingsbury located the Getchell’s Corner Grange Hall a little south of the Congregational Chapel.

Oak Grove Grangers opened a store in 1889, Kingsbury wrote; Robbins said Isaiah Gifford was store manager.

It is possible that Oak Grove Grange was discontinued before or about 1900. It is not listed in available on-line state Grange documents from 1902.

In the south end of town, 39 charter members organized Cushnoc Grange #204 at Riverside (occasionally called Riverside Grange) on Jan. 13, 1876. Kingsbury wrote there were 115 members in 1892; on-line records show 130 members in 1902, but Robbins said there were 150.

Kingsbury wrote that Cushnoc Grange members built their hall in 1879, naming it Liberty Hall. It burned in May 1885.

In 1886, Robbins wrote, Howard H. Snell and Hartwell Getchell, “Directors of the Cushnoc Grange Corporation,” paid James Robbins $175.74 for the building that had been a broom factory, a multi-family tenement, the post office (until 1856) and Benjamin Brown’s store. The building stood on a half-acre lot on the east side of “the County Road from Augusta to Vassalboro” and the north side of Cross Hill Road.

Robbins wrote that the deed of sale gave the new Grange Hall the “the right to take water from two wells described in the deed of Malina S. Kimball to Nathan Coombs.”

Grangers enlarged the building and, Kingsbury wrote, opened a store on the ground floor in August 1887. Robbins quoted a source describing a store-keeper in business in the Grange Hall from about 1884 until 1905. At some point the former schoolhouse “across the road” was moved beside the Grange Hall for a horse shed.

A Friday, Jan. 19, 1894, Kennebec Journal article found on line describes the Wednesday, Jan. 17, installation of Cushnoc Grange’s new officers (not named), attended by representatives of the state Grange.

After the installation, attendees “repaired to the large dining room connected with the grange hall where a bounteous array of good things had been provided by the ladies of the grange and which received ample justice at the hands of all.”

The writer of the article concluded that in 1894, Cushnoc Grange “has one of the finest grange halls in the State, is prosperous and best of all deserves to be.”

For some years around 1900, Robbins wrote in a 1974 essay republished in the 2017 Anthology of Vassalboro Tales, Cushnoc Grange and Riverside Church each put on a Christmas celebration. In bad weather, she commented, “the long cold drive to the Grange Hall with horse and pung was more hazard than happy,” especially for families with small children. (A pung is a small, box-like sleigh drawn by a single horse.)

Cushnoc Grange hosted fairs with livestock, farm produce and handiwork; oyster stew suppers; and baked bean dinners where neighbors shared “great jars of home made pickles and dozens of apple pies.” The Grange folded in 1967, Robbins wrote. Possessions included “dishes to serve more than one hundred” that were given to Riverside Church. The hall was demolished and a house built on the lot.

The University of Maine’s Raymond H. Fogler Library’s special collections has boxes of Grange documents. According to the on-line catalog, contents include Cushnoc Grange secretary’s records from 1876 to 1914 and from 1926 to 1966.

Moving to another town south and east, Windsor Grange #284 was organized June 2, 1886. Kingsbury lists the first Grange Masters, until he completed his Kennebec County history in 1892, as C. F. Donnell (1886), Frank Colburn (1888), George R. Pierce (1890) and John H. Barton (1891).

Colburn and Barton received individual mention in Kingsbury’s history. Frank Colburn was a “farmer and school teacher”; he started teaching winters when he was 18, and was Windsor’s supervisor of schools in 1888 and 1889.

Barton was the great-grandson of Dr. Stephen Barton, who came to Vassalboro in 1774 and moved to Windsor in 1803 to join one of his sons there. John Barton was another schoolteacher; he married Ellen Goddard, of China. Their daughter was a teacher, and their son, who died in 1890 at the age of 27, had headed the commercial department at Kents Hill School.

Windsor Grange had 105 members in 1902, according to Maine State Grange records. Records at the Fogler Library are dated from 1888 to 1995.

Although Linwood Lowden’s Windsor history refers to agriculture in its title, good Land & fine Contrey but poor Roads, he gives the Grange a single paragraph. The Grange “has always rented space in the town hall,” he wrote, paying $125 for the year in 1923, “when the present hall was new.” Another $30 a year went for “space in the G. A. R. Hall.”

Like many other local Granges, Windsor Grange used a large meeting room with a stage, and the stage had a handsomely decorated curtain. Barbara Bailey, from Fairfield Center’s Victor Grange, said when the Windsor town office took over the Grange quarters, the stage curtain was refurbished and remains in the town office.

Winslow, north and west of Windsor, had a 19th-century Grange organization, Winslow Grange #320, which left almost no records to which this writer has access. According to lists of documents stored at the Fogler Library, the collection includes secretary’s records from 1894 to 1972; the earliest account books that have been preserved there date from 1896.

In 1902 Kennebec County Deputy M. F. Norcross of the state Grange wrote that Winslow Grangers “built the fine hall this year, which shows that they are prosperous and progressive.” At that time the Grange had 221 members.

Readers looking for more information on Winslow Grange might try to reach the Winslow Historical Preservation Committee, the town committee that succeeded Winslow Historical Society. The committee’s website is, and it has a Facebook page.

A second Grange in Winslow, Progressive Grange #523, was chartered as a Maine non-profit corporation on Oct, 2, 1914. Clyde G. Berry, at 5 Mar Val Terrace, was listed as the corporation’s registered agent.

MaineCorporations records on line skip from the 1914 filing to July 3, 1979, when a registered agent and address (not given) were filed. In 1981, the organization was sent a notice for failing to file its annual report.

The next record is dated March 22, 1991, when a change of agent and office were submitted. Annual reports were filed in March from 1993 through 2002; after a change of agent in 2002, the filing date moved to April and in 2007 to May.

In March 2009 a report was filed by a new agent and the corporation was reinstated, after having failed to file a 2008 report. In September 2010 it was again dissolved for another failure; a new agent got it reinstated in December 2010.

He (or she) was equally lax, however, because Progressive Grange was administratively dissolved in August 2011, reinstated in 2012, and dissolved for the final time in August 2013.

Clyde G. Berry was also the first agent for Pleiades Grange #355, organized in Augusta on August 28, 1987. Berry’s address was then given as an Augusta post office box.

Pleiades Grange went through a series of suspensions and reinstatements until it was suspended for good in July 1999.

Clyde G. Berry

Clyde “Sonny” G. Berry (Dec. 28, 1946 – May 5, 2018) lived an interesting and varied life, according to his obituary that ran in at least two Maine newspapers.

He was born in Glenburn, attended Bangor High School, graduated from Higgins Classical Institute (a boarding school in Charleston) and attended Husson College and the University of Maine. The obituary says he “worked for several banks before his retirement.”

The Grange was important in Berry’s life. In 1961 he joined Glenburn’s Pleaides Grange, of which he was Master for some years. He later joined and held offices in Mt. Phillip Grange, in Rome. He held offices in three Pomona (county) granges, Penobscot, Sagadahoc and Lincoln.

In the Maine State Grange, Berry was on the Youth Committee, and was Lecturer from 1981 to 1987, Overseer from 1987 to 1989 and Master from 1989 to 1997. Later, he was elected Chaplain in 2011 and Assistant Steward in 2015.

In the national Grange, Berry was a member of the Assembly of Demeter, held the positions of Steward in 1991 and Lecturer in 1997 and worked for the organization as program resource director.

At some time he lived in Vermont, where the obituary says “he was a charter member and Past Master of Upper Valley Community Grange and a charter member and First master of Heart of Vermont Pomona.” He was also a trustee of the village library in Hartford, Vermont, and a “lister” for the town.

In addition to Grange activities, Berry held memberships and offices in historical societies in Hartford, Vermont, and Somerville, Maine; genealogical societies; the Maine Old Cemetery Association; Civil War veterans’ groups; and Sons of the American Revolution.

He served a term on the Glenburn School Board and was for “many years” on the Cemetery Committee; and he co-chaired the 1972 sesquicentennial celebration and co-authored the 1972 sesquicentennial town history.

He died in Bangor at the age of 71, is buried in Glenburn and requested memorial donations to Taconnett Falls Genealogical Society in Winslow.

Main sources

Bernhardt, Esther, and Vicki Schad, compilers/editors, Anthology of Vassalboro Tales (2017).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Lowden, Linwood H., good Land & fine Contrey but Poor roads a history of Windsor, Maine (1993).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Mother’s Day observance in its 113th year

A day honoring mothers began in a small town in West Virginia

by Gary Kennedy

Sunday, May 9, is the day we set aside for the favorite lady in our life, Mother. There isn’t a lot of history regarding Mother’s Day but I will share what I know. Mother’s Day in the U.S.A. is held on the second Sunday in May. Internationally this holiday varies based upon lent and other variables. Mother’s Day recognizes mothers, motherhood and the maternal bond in general.

A lady by the name of Anna Jarvis wanted the world to realize the tremendous contribution that motherhood played in our world. So, on May 10, 1908, proclaimed the first Mother’s Day, at St. Andrews Church, in Grafton, West Virginia. In the U.S.A. we love our holidays. We have a Mother’s Day, a Father’s Day, Siblings Day and Grandparents Day. All are celebrated in a similar manner. It’s a family get-together time with lots of food and festivity. Lawn games are still very popular as is the outside barbeque. There is more food, more calories and the start of another diet. Flowers are appropriate gifts as are other gifts for the lady of the house, the one who gave birth to us. Lots of love and respect is bestowed on the one we call mom or hun.

One of the first events was started by women’s peace groups; in favor of peace and against war. A common early activity was the meeting of groups of mothers whose sons had fought and died on both sides of the American Civil War

In 1868, four years post civil war, Ann Jarvis; Anna Jarvis’s mother organized a committee to establish a “Mother’s Day International Associate”. In 1912 Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “Second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day” and created the Mothers’ International Association. Anna specifically noted that “Mother’s” should be a singular possessive, for each family. Mother’s Day is the third largest holiday in the U.S.A. for sending cards; criticized by some as a Hallmark Holiday. Over 50 percent of American households send cards.

In 1908 Anna Jarvis delivered 500 carnations to the first celebration, thus carnation became the flower of choice for the holiday. Anna chose the carnation because it was her mother’s favorite. It became also the lapel ornament of the gentlemen during this event. A pink carnation was of choice if your mother was still living and a white one if she had passed. The church eventually picked this up. Other variations are used these days, including live plants.

The sad ending to this informative piece is, the holiday became so commercialized that Anna Jarvis became an opponent of her own created holiday. She spent all of her inheritance and the remainder of her life fighting what she saw as an abuse of her heart’s creation. She became very obsessed with what she saw. She started a protest in 1948 and was arrested for disturbing the peace. She finally stated she wished she had never started the holiday. She died that year.

Americans spend $2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on gifts and $68 million on cards. From NASCAR to the Players Golf Championship, mother is on the billboard May/June. The colors pink and white are used at these and the hundreds events like them. Although Anna’s heart was broken much good did come from her love of her mother. It is one of the few holidays that has stood the test of time.

I wish my flower was pink but for many years now it has been white. Thank you Anna, your heart was true and though what you gave and left behind changed for many, there are still many who are grateful for your undying sweet gift. God Bless all our mothers. Enjoy your time together.

Carrabec High School announces top 10 seniors for 2021

Clockwise from top left: Sarah Olson, Mikayla Oliver, Jasmyne Coombs, Andrew Davis, Ethan Johnson, Chantelle LaCroix, Elizabeth Manzer, Autumn Morrill, Courtney Peabody, Anastasia Quimby.

Sarah Olson, Carrabec’s Valedictorian, is a student who is a role model in our school. With a grade point average of 101.18 she has completed four advanced placement classes, seven honors classes and five dual enrollment classes.

Sarah is a student who is quiet and accomplishes a lot behind the scenes. She is hard working and will be successful in any endeavor she chooses to pursue. Sarah will be attending Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire. Sarah is the daughter of Kirt and Laurie Olson, of Solon.

Mikayla Oliver, Carrabec’s Salutatorian, is a very bright and successful student. Mikayla has a grade point average of 99.07, completing four advanced placement classes, seven honors classes, as well as, six dual enrollment classes.

Mikayla will be an asset to any organization to which she chooses to become a part. Mikayla will be attending the University of Maine at Farmington, majoring in psychology. Mikayla is the daughter of Lawrence and Renee Oliver, of Embden.

Jasmyne Coombs is the daughter of Aryke Tyrrell, of Solon, and Brian Coombs, of Solon. Jasmyne will be attending the University of Maine at Farmington for their secondary education program.

Andrew Davis is the son of Donna Davis, of New Portland. Andrew will be going into the U.S. Air Force.

Ethan Johnson is the son of Wayne and Kim Johnson, of Solon. Ethan will be continuing in the work force.

Chantelle LaCroix is the daughter of Kevin and Janet LaCroix, of Solon. Chantelle will be attending Husson University, in Bangor, majoring in physical therapy.

Elizabeth Manzer is the daughter of Angela Hawkins, of Anson, and Dean Manzer of Anson. Elizabeth will be attending Kennebec Valley Community College, in Fairfield, for their phlebotomy program.

Autumn Morrill is the daughter of Eric and Amanda Morrill, of Embden. Autumn will be attending the University of Maine at Orono for their animal and veterinary science program.

Courtney Peabody is the daughter of Robert and Carrie Peabody, of Solon. Courtney will be attending Plymouth State University, in Plymouth, New Hampshire, majoring in adventure education.

Anastasia Quimby is the daughter of Stacey Brown and Terry True, of Wellington. Anastasia will be attending Husson University, in Bangor.

VASSALBORO: No comments during marijuana ordinance hearing

Probably the shortest in town history

by Mary Grow

A dozen residents attended the Vassalboro selectmen’s April 29 public hearing and board meeting, but not to talk about the proposed “Town of Vassalboro Marijuana Business Ordinance” that was the hearing topic.

Selectboard Chairman John Melrose opened the hearing and asked for audience questions and comments. After less than half a minute with no reactions at all, he closed the hearing, making it probably the shortest on record in the town.

Voters will accept or reject the ordinance by written ballot on June 8. It is posted on the town website, in the central section.

Later, it appeared that some of the residents wanted to talk about whether John Green, who now owns Tom’s Rubbish Removal, should have a key to the transfer station. On two occasions during the winter Green was unable to dump a load of trash.

Selectmen were reluctant to give a private hauler a key to the facility, citing town liability should anything go wrong. Town Manager Mary Sabins said Green and Transfer Station Manager George Hamar have been talking, and she thinks they have resolved the issue.

Another topic of interest to some in the audience was awarding the bid to install a Kohler 250-watt diesel generator at Vassalboro Community School so the school can serve as an emergency shelter.

Sabins reported only one bid was received, from Generators of Maine, in Belgrade, for $121,250, including complete installation work. The price was $6,250 higher than the town had accumulated grant and other monies to cover.

Selectmen voted unanimously to accept the bid, planning to take the extra money from savings in other departments or from the $15,000 contingency fund voters approved at the 2020 annual town meeting.

“This is something we have to have,” said Robert Browne, known as the most conservative money person on the board.

Sabins said the Red Cross has approved the school as an emergency center. In the future, Red Cross and Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency personnel will train local volunteers to run it.

Dan MacKenzie, vice-president of Generators of Maine, wrote on the bid form that the company could start work within 154 days of the award and would try to have the generator installed by Oct. 31. However, he wrote, Covid is delaying deliveries, so he cannot guarantee the date.

Selectmen signed the warrant for Vassalboro’s June 7 and 8 annual town meeting. Board Chairman John Melrose said the Kennebec County budget has increased, mostly because of staff expansion, and Vassalboro’s share has risen by 5.6 percent. Sabins said the amount in the town meeting warrant (Art. 21), $383,911, matches the planned increase.

In response to a query from resident Tom Richards, Melrose said the state Department of Transportation has postponed plans for extensive work on Route 32, which runs from China to Winslow through the villages of East and North Vassalboro. DOT hopes to find money to repave a short section in North Vassalboro, from about the post office to about the Baptist Church.

Melrose, who is a former state Commissioner of Transportation, predicted the planned “maintenance mulch” on several other roads in town “won’t last long.”

Sabins said she had a request from an event promoter who wants to stage a July 2022 music festival featuring Waylon Albright “Shooter” Jennings, son of country music stars Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, and Coleman “IV” Williams, Hank Williams’ great-grandson. Vassalboro has no ordinance to regulate such gatherings; selectmen decided they and probably the planning board need to discuss creating one.

The next Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 13, in person in the town office meeting room.

LETTERS: Easy way to save for retirement

To the editor:

It is a distressing fact that on average, working households in Maine have just $2,500 in retirement savings. This is due in part because many Maine workers have no way to save for retirement through their employer. This legislative session, a simple solution is being proposed and AARP Maine strongly supports it. LD 1622, sponsored by Senator Eloise Vitelli (D-Arrowsic), would offer thousands of Maine workers an easy way to save for retirement through their workplace.

Under this proposal, employees could save for retirement through a payroll deduction in the amount they choose. Employees would be automatically enrolled in the program but could choose to opt out if they wanted to. The money they save would be theirs to take with them from job to job, to rely on in later years for a more secure retirement. All the employer would have to do is set up the deduction.

This program could be a game changer for many Maine workers. An AARP Maine survey that was just released found that when it comes to planning and saving for retirement, 40 percent of Mainers 45 and older say they are behind schedule. Further studies show that Mainers are 15 times more likely to save when they can do so through their job. Over time, even a small contribution can make a big difference.

If you are one of the thousands of Mainers concerned about saving for retirement, please urge your legislators to support LD 1622. Maine lawmakers have the opportunity to give Maine workers an easy way to increase their savings and take control of their own future.

Pat Pinto
AARP Maine Volunteer State President

SCORES & OUTDOORS: Despite being dry at times, vernal pools teem with life when filled

A vernal pool. (photo by Maine Department of Environmental Protection)

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

Like an idiot, I decided to stop into the office on my way to camp on Sunday. However, every chore has its rewards. On our way to camp afterwards, I noticed a small vernal pool in its customary spot on the Cross Hill Road, in Vassalboro. It’s always there, but it’s usually dried up during the summer. Vernal pools are a very important occurrence in our ecosystem. Let’s take a look at what actually happens there.

Vernal pools, also called vernal ponds, are temporary pools of water that provide habitat for distinctive plants and animals. They are considered to be a distinctive type of wetland usually devoid of fish, and thus allow the safe development of amphibian and insect species unable to withstand competition or predation by fish.

Despite being dry at times, vernal pools teem with life when filled. The most obvious inhabitants are various species of breeding frogs and toads. Some salamanders also utilize vernal pools for reproduction, but the adults may visit the pool only briefly. Other notable inhabitants are Daphnia and fairy shrimp, the latter often used as an indicator species to decisively define a vernal pool. Other indicator species, at least in New England, are the wood frog, the spadefoot toad, and some species of mole salamanders. Certain plant species are also associated with vernal pools, although the particular species depend upon the region.

Vernal pools are shallow depressions that usually contain water for only part of the year. In the Northeast, vernal pools may fill during the fall and winter as the water table rises. Rain and melting snow also contribute water during the spring. Vernal pools typically dry out by mid to late summer. Although vernal pools may only contain water for a relatively short period of time, they serve as essential breeding habitat for certain species of wildlife, including salamanders and frogs. Since vernal pools dry out on a regular basis, they cannot support permanent populations of fish. The absence of fish provides an important ecological advantage for species that have adapted to vernal pools, because their eggs and young are safe from predation.

Species that must have access to vernal pools in order to survive and reproduce are known as “obligate” vernal pool species. In Maine, obligate vernal pool species include wood frogs, spotted and blue-spotted salamanders (two types of mole salamanders) and fairy shrimp. While wood frogs and mole salamanders live most of their lives in uplands, they must return to vernal pools to mate and lay their eggs. The eggs and young of these amphibians develop in the pools until they are mature enough to migrate to adjacent uplands. Fairy shrimp are small crustaceans which spend their entire life cycle in vernal pools, and have adapted to constantly changing environmental conditions. Fairy shrimp egg cases remain on the pool bottom even after all water has disappeared. The eggs can survive long periods of drying and freezing, but will hatch in late winter or early spring when water returns to the pool.

Not all vernal pool habitats are considered “significant”. In general, a vernal pool habitat is significant if it has a high habitat value, either because a state-listed threatened or endangered species, such as a spotted turtle, or a rare species, such as a ribbon snake, uses it to complete a critical part of its life history, or there is a notable abundance of specific wildlife, such as blue spotted salamander, wood frog, or fairy shrimp.

Do you have a vernal pool on your property and don’t know whether it is significant? The specific criteria describing a significant vernal pool are listed in DEP Rules, Chapter 335, and allow these resources to be identified in the field. Using these criteria, a person who has experience and training in either wetland ecology or wildlife ecology may identify and document a significant vernal pool; or the DEP may provide a written determination concerning whether or not a vernal pool habitat is significant.

“Significant vernal pool habitat” includes the vernal pool itself and the area within a 250-foot radius of the spring or fall high water mark of the pool, which is considered critical terrestrial habitat.

Since September 1, 2007, significant vernal pool habitat is protected by law under the Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA). An activity in, on, or over these areas must avoid unreasonable impacts on the significant vernal pool habitat and obtain approval from the DEP, through a Permit by Rule or individual NRPA approval.

A permit by rule will be available if certain standards are met, and can be approved within 14 days. The standards do not create a mandatory setback or no-build zone, but do affect what can be done, so it is advisable to plan ahead. For more information on the NRPA, a copy of the rules addressing significant vernal pools, application forms, and related materials, see the NRPA page.

If you have questions, need hard copies of materials, or would like to request a field determination, contact your nearest DEP regional office, and ask to speak to the “on-call” person in the Land & Water Bureau, Division of Land Resource Regulation.

The Central Maine Regional Office is located at 17 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0017; Phone: 207-287-7688 or 1-800-452-1942.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

Which pitcher, who started for the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series, later enjoyed success coaching the Chinese national team?

Answer on page 14.

Roland’s Trivia Question for Thursday, May 6, 2021

Trivia QuestionsWhich pitcher, who started for the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series, later enjoyed success coaching the Chinese national team?


Bruce Hurst.