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Out & About with Rachel Morin: Rachel Carson Refuge

Rachel at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge Timber Point Sign. Photo by Elizabeth Morin.

By Rachel Morin

A couple weeks ago, my daughter, Elizabeth, son, Gerry, daughter-in-law, Debbie and I, living in three different towns, decided to meet at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge at Biddeford Pool for fresh air, exercise and social distancing. 

We took advantage of the sunny day for a walk in the Park’s beautifully maintained nature trail which ran alongside the ocean.   

It is an easy route, short enough for mostly anyone to walk (1 ¼ mile) with a wide flat trail. There are stunning views, marshes, woods and ocean. The trail is well maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with clear signs and helpful information.  

The old Ewing property built in 1931, is still standing and is worth a look.  There are plenty of places along the trail to rest and enjoy the scenery.  There was a lot to see across the seawater as we looked at Sandy Point and noticed two people walking along the large sandy beach. Later in our walk, we looked across the water and saw Timber Island on Little River.  The island is accessible by a land bridge, but only at low tide. 

The Refuge was all to ourselves, quiet and meditative, as we walked along, calling  out to each other from our single file, 6 ft distancing, when we would see special sights we wanted to share — a bird’s nest in the crook of a small tree, low bushes covered with small red berries,  a raised wooden platform to see points of interest across the seawater.  

My son found a small seashell with an array of orange shades — so beautiful.  I have it now on my indoor garden bench which holds my potted plants.

At the end of our walk we were surprised to only have seen a young family with three small children — one toddler in a carriage and two little ones, walking sturdily along.  We exchanged “hello” waves and kept moving along in our single file formation. Times sure have changed, as in the past, we would have exchanged social comments, especially with the cute youngsters bobbing along.

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 in cooperation with the State of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Located along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of eleven divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth.

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 in cooperation with the State of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Located along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of eleven divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth.

“It is an extraordinary place — peaceful, breathtakingly beautiful. One is struck by how unique and special it is, and how important it is that such places are preserved in a time when our environment is under siege. The Ewing legacy and the Rachel Carson Preserve are priceless.” (Comment by an anonymous person who wrote about the Refuge). 

We all agreed that our walk was lovely. My daughter Liz expressed further, “ It seemed so far removed from all the sad and tragic happenings in the world around us.  It is a warm spring day and we enjoyed the scenery and each other.  What a visionary Rachel Carson was to protect this land for all generations.  We are fortunate to live in Maine and have such easy access to it.”

Rachel Carson was a world-renowned marine biologist, author and environmentalist who served as an aquatic biologist and editor-in-chief for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. She has been credited with launching the contemporary environmental movement and awakening the concern of Americans for the environment.

The Fish and Wildlife Service named one of its refuges near Carson’s summer home on the coast of Maine as the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in 1969 to honor the memory of this extraordinary woman.  Rachel Carson died from cancer in 1964 at the age of 57.

April 2020 will mark the 58th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book, “Silent Spring.”  By publishing it, Carson has been credited with launching the contemporary environmental movement and awakening the concern of Americans for the environment.  Governor Janet Mills has discouraged attendance at beaches, state parks and playgrounds.  They are too crowded. 

You might consider visiting some of Maine’s wild areas.  Here are a few around southern, central and mid-coast Maine:

The Basin Preserve, Basin Road, Phippsburg: More than eight miles of trails and four miles of coastline make up this 1,846-acre preserve managed by The Nature Conservancy. The property protects important estuary habitat.

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