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Scarborough Marsh Audubon

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Scarborough Marsh Audubon: A Natural Wonderland in Maine

Nestled in the heart of Maine, Scarborough Marsh Audubon is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. This remarkable destination, owned and managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, encompasses a sprawling 3,100 acre estuary known as Scarborough Marsh Audubon. It’s not just your average marsh; it’s the largest salt marsh in the state, a haven for wildlife, and a paradise for nature enthusiasts. So, let’s embark on a journey to unravel the secrets of this captivating marshland.

Scarborough Marsh Audubon is an ecological marvel, boasting a diverse blend of tidal marsh, salt creeks, freshwater marsh, and uplands. It’s a dynamic landscape that undergoes constant change with the ebb and flow of tides. This ever-changing environment provides critical habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, making it a top destination for birdwatchers and nature lovers.

What a delightful journey and fantastic adventure! The facility was impeccably kept, and the staff members were exceptionally friendly and accommodating. As for the marsh, it was a sight to behold, brimming with exquisite wildlife that left us in awe.

Birdwatchers, in particular, will find Scarborough Marsh Audubon irresistible. This vast wetland serves as a crucial stopover for countless waterfowl, egrets, herons, Glossy Ibis, and numerous species of shorebirds during their migration. It’s not uncommon to spot these majestic creatures resting, feeding, or even nesting amidst the lush surroundings.

What sets Scarborough Marsh Audubon apart is its unique birdwatching opportunities. You’ll encounter grassland songbirds that are rarely seen in other parts of Maine, along with a plethora of birds of prey that hunt within the marsh year-round. Whether you’re an experienced birder or a novice, the avian diversity here is sure to leave you spellbound.

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The history of Scarborough Marsh is deeply intertwined with its ecological significance. Long before European settlers arrived in the 1600s, the Sokokis Indians utilized this wetland for hunting, trapping, clamming, and fishing. As European settlers made their mark, they harvested salt hay for their livestock and used the marsh as summer pasture.

The 19th century witnessed significant changes in the landscape, including increased ditching, filling of pannes (shallow depressions in the marsh), and the introduction of tidal gates. These gates were designed to control the flow of water, preventing the tide from flooding certain areas of the marsh. Additionally, channels were dug, allowing boats built inland to access the sea through the marsh.

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However, as the 20th century dawned, the perspective on marshes started to shift. With declining interest in haying, these valuable ecosystems were viewed as potential sites for airports or cheap land for development. In fact, Scarborough Marsh Audubon even faced the grim proposal of becoming a town dump.

Recognizing the impending threat to this vital coastal habitat, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife took action in 1957. Over the next two decades, they worked tirelessly to acquire the marsh, preserving it from impending development.

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In 1972, another milestone was achieved as Maine Audubon joined hands with the state to convert an old clam shack on the edge of the marsh into the Scarborough Marsh Audubon. This partnership marked the beginning of a new chapter in the marsh’s history.

Today, Scarborough Marsh Audubon stands as a testament to successful conservation efforts. It serves as a workplace for clam diggers, an outdoor classroom for eager schoolchildren, a living laboratory for biologists, and a prime territory for fishermen and hunters. Most importantly, it remains a captivating world for naturalists, especially birdwatchers.

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Now that we’ve delved into the history and significance of Scarborough Marsh, let’s explore what awaits you at the Scarborough Marsh Audubon itself. This center is your gateway to the wonders of the marsh, offering a multitude of ways to experience this natural wonderland.

Guided and Self-Guided Tours: Whether you prefer to have a knowledgeable naturalist guide you through the marsh’s secrets or you’re an independent explorer, the center has you covered. Join a guided tour or embark on a self-guided adventure to discover the rich biodiversity of the marsh.

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Canoe and Kayak Exploration: If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, consider renting a canoe or kayak. Paddle your way through the marsh’s waterways, immersing yourself in its serene beauty. Just remember to check the tides carefully to avoid getting stuck at low tide.

Nature Trail: Lace up your hiking boots and traverse the center’s nature trail. It’s a fantastic opportunity to experience the marsh up close, with interpretive displays along the way to enhance your understanding of this unique ecosystem.

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Maine Audubon Nature Store: A visit to the Maine Audubon Nature Store is a must. Here, you can browse a wide selection of books, toys, Maine-made gifts, and bird-feeding and optic equipment. It’s the perfect place to find souvenirs or birdwatching essentials.

Educational Programs: The Scarborough Marsh Audubon hosts a range of natural history programs suitable for all ages throughout the summer. These programs provide valuable insights into the marsh’s flora and fauna, making learning a fun and interactive experience.

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Hands-On Activities: Engage with the center’s hands-on activities and displays, suitable for visitors of all ages. From aquariums teeming with marine life to interactive exhibits, there’s plenty to keep curious minds entertained.

Wildlife Exhibits: Marvel at the mounted birds and mammals on display at the center. These exhibits offer a unique opportunity to get up close to some of the marsh’s inhabitants.

Scarborough Marsh Audubon isn’t just a place to visit; it’s an immersive experience. Whether you’re interested in wildlife, ecology, or simply enjoying the tranquility of nature, this center has something to offer every visitor.

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Preserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of Scarborough Marsh Audubon wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated efforts of the Friends of Scarborough Marsh. This nonprofit coalition comprises concerned citizens, landowners, businesses, state and federal agencies, environmental organizations, and others who share a common love for the marsh and a commitment to its long-term safeguarding.

Established in 2000, the Friends of Scarborough Marsh is an all-volunteer group with a singular focus: the conservation, protection, restoration, and enhancement of Scarborough Marsh. Their initiatives include projects and studies aimed at understanding the challenges and potential for restoration, land conservation efforts, and a range of education and public outreach events.

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These events, such as marsh clean-ups and lecture series, serve not only to raise awareness but also to actively engage the community in the preservation of this unique ecosystem. Through their tireless work, the Friends of Scarborough Marsh ensure that this natural wonder remains pristine for generations to come.

Scarborough Marsh Audubon and its surrounding natural wonders are a testament to the beauty and biodiversity that can be found in the heart of Maine. From its rich history and conservation efforts to its diverse wildlife and outdoor activities, the marsh and its neighboring attractions offer something for everyone.

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Whether you’re a seasoned birder, an avid cyclist, a nature enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful escape into the wild, Scarborough Marsh Audubon is waiting to welcome you with open arms. So, pack your binoculars, grab your hiking boots, and embark on a journey to explore the captivating beauty of Scarborough Marsh Audubon and its enchanting surroundings. It’s a natural wonderland you won’t want to miss.

Scarborough Marsh Audubon Trails

While Scarborough Marsh Audubon is undoubtedly a highlight of the region, it’s not the only attraction for outdoor enthusiasts. Just a stone’s throw away lies the Eastern Trail, a 9.3 mile point-to-point trail near Scarborough, Maine. This trail is an absolute treasure for those who appreciate the great outdoors.

The Eastern Trail, known as ET, is a 65+ mile signed bike route that spans from the Piscataqua River in Kittery to South Portland, Maine. Along this scenic route, you’ll cross through a series of charming communities, including Kittery, Eliot, South Berwick, Wells, Kennebunk, Arundel, Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Scarborough, and South Portland.

What makes the Eastern Trail so special is its diverse appeal. It’s not just for cyclists; it’s a haven for birding enthusiasts, cross-country skiers, and anglers as well. While the trail can be popular during peak seasons, there are plenty of opportunities to find solitude during quieter times of the day.

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Don’t forget to bring your four-legged friends along, but remember to keep them on a leash to ensure the safety of both your pet and the local wildlife.

Beyond its local significance, the Eastern Trail is part of the larger East Coast Greenway bicycle trail network that stretches from Maine to Florida. This makes the Eastern Trail a crucial link in a grand cycling adventure that spans the entire eastern seaboard of the United States.

As you pedal along the Eastern Trail, you’ll encounter both on-road and off-road segments. Some portions of the trail are still under construction, while others remain undeveloped. Regardless of the stage of development, each section of the trail offers a unique perspective on the region’s natural beauty.

What’s Nearby Scarborough Marsh Audubon

Near Scarborough Marsh Audubon, you’ll discover a wealth of natural wonders and scenic spots waiting to be explored. The Libby River Farm Preserve offers a tranquil retreat with its lush landscapes and serene river views. Prouts Neck, a picturesque coastal community, provides stunning ocean vistas and an opportunity to explore rugged shorelines. Sewell Woods invites you to wander through enchanting forests, while Cascade Falls offers a refreshing escape with its cascading waters and verdant surroundings.

Just a short drive away, Horton Woods invites visitors to immerse themselves in serene woodland trails. Ferry Beach State Park is a haven for beachgoers and nature enthusiasts, featuring unspoiled sandy beaches and coastal ecology. Jubilee Park provides a picturesque setting for outdoor activities, while Laurel Hill Cemetery offers a unique blend of historical and natural allure. Atlantic Way is a scenic route that showcases the stunning coastal landscape.

Fuller Farm Preserve is an ideal spot for experiencing diverse habitats and wildlife. Timber Point Island & Trail presents an opportunity to explore a mix of tidal marshes, forests, and rocky coastlines. The Saco River offers a range of recreational activities, from kayaking to fishing. Clifford Park, with its network of trails, is perfect for hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts.

Scarborough Marsh Audubon Parking Information

Parking at Scarborough Marsh Audubon is both convenient and accessible. When arriving at the center, visitors can easily find ample parking spaces available near the facility. To reach Scarborough Marsh Audubon from U.S. Route One in Scarborough, simply turn east onto Pine Point Road (also marked as Route 9 West). Continue on Pine Point Road for approximately 0.8 miles, and you will find the nature center on your left. The well-marked parking area ensures that your visit begins with ease, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the wonders of the marsh and its surroundings without any parking-related concerns.

Further Reading

Scarborough Marsh Audubon Photos

Check out Carefree Creative’s photos of Scarborough Marsh Audubon

Scarborough Marsh Audubon Address & Directions

Scarborough Marsh Audubon, 92 Pine Point Rd, Scarborough, ME 04074

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