Barry Morgan and his wife, Mary Jo, stand in front of a hot air balloon before taking a ride over the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. For Morgan it’s all about being outside no matter where he goes. Submitted photo

POLAND — Barry Morgan could be the face of L.L. Bean’s current advertising campaign “Be an Outsider.”

As co-chairman of the Poland Conservation Commission, Morgan, at age 73, is a constant presence keeping the town’s recreation areas in prime condition. Whether it is maintaining Poland’s miles of walking trails, removing invasive plants or enjoying the boating, swimming and fishing opportunities at his retirement home on Middle Range Pond, Morgan can usually be found outside.

A couple of weeks ago on land that abuts the Heart of Poland trail system, Morgan and his colleagues removed truck loads full of Asiatic bittersweet, an invasive plant that works like a boa constrictor to choke surrounding plants and even trees to death.

Born in South Portland, Morgan has always maintained a busy lifestyle. Self-employed for 40 years while living in Standish, Morgan also found time to volunteer his time helping in the schools and coaching Little League and soccer among other activities.

After moving to Poland in 2014, Morgan became enmeshed with the town’s vast recreational and outdoor opportunities.

Two of the three trails the conservation commission maintains are now part of an easement or trust to ensure future access to the land so the trails and the wildlife can be enjoyed for years to come.

What does the Poland Conservation Commission do? Primarily, the conservation commission maintains the three-trail systems in Poland. We also share the wonders of these trails with game cameras. One of our members is Alan Audet, a naturalist who has his own YouTube channel called Waterhouse Park. He has posted amazing videos showing foxes, bobcats, mink, raccoons and many other wildlife animals in the Poland area. In the future, these videos will be available on the town of Poland website.

How did you get involved? What attracted you to the commission? After living in Standish for 40 years, my wife and I relocated to a lovely home on Middle Range Pond. I joined the Poland Conservation Commission to meet my new neighbors and be involved protecting the Maine outdoors for the generations to come. This group was very dedicated to creating new trail systems and all the stewardship of these trails.

How big a problem are invasive plants in Poland? How do you best eradicate them? If the invasive plants are left unchecked, they will continue to spread and eventually destroy the forests. The Asiatic bittersweet will grow around trees all the way to the crown. They will squeeze these trees till they become lifeless. A team effort of volunteers is needed to physically cut the vines, pull out the roots and remove all the debris. This will have to be repeated until we can then hire a person licensed to apply a herbicide to the freshly cut stems of the mature invasive plants.

What is Waterhouse Park? Waterhouse Park is a 90-acre parcel of land owned by the town of Poland. Waterhouse Brook traverses through the park connecting Lower Range Pond with the Little Androscoggin River. A two-mile trail is great for novice hikers and families as it is mostly level. There is an abundance of wildlife within this trail to be enjoyed. A kayak and canoe launch has been built adjacent to the Waterhouse Park dam. The kayaks and canoes can then access the Lower Range Pond for its beauty and some great fishing.

What is involved in trail maintenance? Trail maintenance involves the cutting of fallen trees on the trails after a storm. Clearing brush from the trails is done throughout the year. After big rainfalls, trails sometimes need to be regraded, and the holes filled. We will continue to replace the olden wooden walkways with bridges constructed with powder coated aluminum that have a 50-year lifespan.

What is the biggest challenge for the Poland Conservation Commission? The biggest challenge for the conservation commission is making more people aware of our efforts, and then to see them come enjoy these trails.

What recreational/outdoor activities do you enjoy? Being outdoors either walking, hiking, boating, swimming, fishing and playing with our grandchildren.


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