Bates-Morse Mountain offers New Year's hike

Judy Marden, director of the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area, leads a late-morning New Year’s hike or snowshoe at the conservation area on Sunday, Jan. 4.

Part of a three-season series of events marking the 25th anniversary of Bates College stewardship of the BMMCA, the outing is open to the public at no charge. Please call Marden at 207-786-6078 for additional details and to register.

The conservation area’s 600 acres of land include woods, upland, salt marsh and Maine’s last undeveloped barrier beach. Serving as a nursery for juvenile fish, a haven for rare plants and birds, and a peaceful sanctuary for all, the conservation area is visited by Bates students and faculty, naturalists from all over and the public.

In 1978, the St. John family deeded this land to the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area Corporation, with conservation easements held by The Nature Conservancy requiring that it be preserved in its natural condition for all time. Bates holds a 50-year lease on the land in exchange for providing stewardship.

The college is committed to preserving, protecting and gently using the area as a source of learning and inspiration. People from Bates use the land as a living laboratory for research, a sort of secondary classroom for science courses and student projects. With European settlement of the land dating back to the mid-17th century, BMMCA custodians also work to reverse some impacts of the human presence and return parts of the land, notably the salt marshes, to their pre-Colonial state.

After the hike, the next event in the BMMCA anniversary series is the annual spring work-day on Saturday, April 24 (times to be announced), with volunteers from The Nature Conservancy, Maine Audubon and other friends of Morse Mountain. This day is dedicated to special projects that include putting up protective fences that help protect endangered piping plovers during their nesting season.

The BMMCA anniversary series is co-sponsored by the Philip J. Otis Fund at Bates. Established by Margaret V.B. and C. Angus Wurtele, the fund commemorates their son, Philip, of the Bates class of 1995, who died attempting to rescue a climber on Mount Rainier in 1995. Otis was concerned about nurturing a sense of responsibility for the natural environment, and the annual lectureship focuses on environmental issues and the spiritual and moral dimensions of ecology.

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