WITT SWAMP PRESERVE
LOCATION: 570 Pleasant St, Norway
DISTANCE: 1-mile trail
FUN FACT: The Swamp is named after Benjamin Witt, Norway’s first blacksmith.
Welcome to Witt Swamp Preserve. The Swamp is named after Benjamin Witt, one of the Norway’s founders and the town’s first blacksmith. Between 1872–2004, the forest was owned by C. B. Cummings & Sons of Norway and was last harvested with draft horses in the 1950s. The 141-acre parcel was purchased by the Western Foothills Land Trust in 2004.
The mile-long Witt Swamp loop trail has been created for quiet exploration by numerous volunteers for your enjoyment. Please stay on the marked trail and follow standard trail etiquette of leave no trace. We encourage you to send any nature observations or photos along the trail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for Witt Swamp Preserve has been provided by the Davis Conservation Foundation, Keys North LLC, LL Bean, the Town of Norway, the Southern Maine Wetlands Conservancy, and many generous donors.
Witt Swamp Preserve is a 141 acre parcel owned by the Western Foothills Land Trust since 2004. The Swamp is named after Benjamin Witt, Norway’s first blacksmith. From 1872–2004, the forested parcel was owned by C. B. Cummings & Sons of Norway makers of wooden dowels, monopoly board pieces and pieces for other wooden games. The lot does have a history of past forest management and evidence of such is still clearly visible throughout the lot in old stumps, skid trails and the forest structure itself. With much of the preserve in wetland habitats, these wetland acres have likely never been managed and are present with a structure indicative of such.
The Trust purchased the parcel in 2004 from a subsequent owner. In consideration of the then land-locked Preserve, Keys North LLC donated a 60-foot wide access corridor connecting the Preserve to Pleasant Street in 2007. With support from the Southern Maine Wetlands Conservancy, an L.L. Bean, Maine Land Trust grant, and the town of Norway, a small parking area was established in 2009. In 2010, the 20-acre Shepard’s Farm Preserve on Crockett Ridge Road was donated to the land trust securing frontage on the western side of the swamp. It is hoped that one day a non-motorized trail will connect the two Preserves.
In 2011–2012 volunteers created a mile-long Witt Swamp loop trail for the community’s quiet enjoyment. The trail meanders through hemlock, oak, birch and cedar woodlands, and includes a cedar boardwalk, stone steps, and numerous explores amongst boulders, erratics, and bedrock. There is a small kiosk at the trail head. In the spring time wildflowers are plentiful, and in the autumn, a variety of mushrooms abound. We ask that visitors respect and do not disturb the natural features of the Preserve.
Fall 2014: Witt Swamp Preserve Expanded for Water Quality, Wildlife, Recreation
In June, the Trust purchased additional wetlands and upland buffer adjacent to Witt Swamp Preserve in Norway thanks to funding provided by the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program. The project adds 111.5 acres of conserved land to the 160 acres previously protected by abutting Witt Swamp and Shepard’s Farm Family Preserves. Together, the three parcels create a significant conservation area which directly benefits the water quality of Pennesseewassee Lake, provides a rich and varied habitat for wildlife, and will allow the Trust and community volunteers to establish a non-motorized trail linking Crockett Ridge Rd. and Pleasant Street.
Witt Swamp is primarily a white cedar swamp with a variety of secondary natural communities. Within the dense forested wetlands there are scatterings of talus rocks and smaller erratics left by a generous glacier. Running east-west between the Preserve and the newly acquired parcel is the old Witt Cart Road which historically connected farms along the Crockett Ridge peninsula with the early settlement of Rustfield (now Norway).
The new parcel includes approximately 47.7 acres of forested freshwater wetland, 6.9 acres of shrub-scrub freshwater wetland and approximately 4,301 linear feet of stream as well as approximately 56.9 acres of upland buffer. The project evolved over several years as volunteers and staff inventoried natural assets, scouted the feasibility of a potential trail route, and worked with the seller to define a parcel which would best serve resource conservation, the seller’s financial goals, and the desire to retain taxable residential lots on Pleasant Street.
TRAILS & PRESERVES
During this period, the Oxford Hills mountain bike community has evolved tremendously thanks to leadership of John Harvey of Green Machine Bike and Pete Toohey from the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School). Due to hundreds of hours of volunteer trail building activities, single track trails have been developed at at Shepard’s Farm Preserve. The mountain bikers are assisting in planning for trails on the new property, which will accommodate hikers and bikers (and snow shoers and Nordic skiers), and will be involved in the new trail’s construction. Recreational Tail Program grants will be submitted over a three year period to fund the needed trail work and infrastructure. WFLT will manage the premises for its natural resource values, including recreation and wildlife habitat protection.
The Trust would like to thank the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program for supporting this natural resource and community recreation project.
Photos below from Shepard's Family Farm Preserve to Pleasant Street on the Witt's End Trail
Photos: Brian Ellis, October 2016