by Barbara Mitchell

The City of Auburn, Assessing Division has been engaged in a review of waterfront Taylor Pond property values. This multi-year appraisal process includes an analysis of sales and property inspections.  As of April 1, 2020 the analysis was not complete. As such there will be no market adjustments made for the upcoming tax year as a direct result of the study.

Although there will not be any overall market adjustments for the upcoming tax year, edits to value were necessary for some properties following inspections. These adjustments were for new additions, demolitions, decks, garages, miscellaneous outbuildings, additional bathrooms, condition changes or other corrections that were discovered during the inspections or subsequent to permit work.

The Taylor Pond study includes 196 total parcels. Only 28% of properties saw a value increase. For the most part, any adjustments were minor – often they were less than 1% of the improvement value. Value reductions were posted for 29% of properties and 43% of properties saw no change in value.  The Assessing Division intends to notify all Taylor Pond property owners whether or not their value changed in a letter prior to commitment, although  the COVID-19 outbreak hampered efforts to do this. They hope to notify individual property owners before July 1, 2020.

Homeowners should also be aware that the homestead exemption is being raised from $20,000 to $25,000 this year. This means that many Taylor Pond year round property owners (who have a homestead exemption) will likely see their taxes decrease, even if the property value increases – because very few increased more than $5,000. 

Property ValueNumber of Properties

*These increases were overwhelmingly minor, from 0.02% to 14.17%. Only three properties had an improvement value increase greater than 10%.

Source:  www.auburnmaine.gov


by Dana Little

Taylor Pond Association (TPA) is dedicated to protecting the quality of water in and life on the pond.  Thanks to the vigilance and partnership of property owners, we continue to report that both are very good!  As a community and as stewards of this valuable natural resource, we can take pride in our collective work…and then redouble our efforts to do even better next year.  Your individual work–avoiding pesticides and fertilizer, preventing runoff, being responsible boaters, and respecting wildlife habitat–is ongoing and critical to pond health.

Sunrise April 6th.


Central to our mission is monitoring the quality of water in Taylor Pond.  Woody Trask manages testing and provides the annual water quality report, where we are reminded that invasive aquatic plants represent the most imminent danger to our enjoyment of the pond.  A pond filled with invasive plants can make swimming and boating unpleasant, even impossible.  Last year Michael Heskanen and I toured the entire lake looking for these aliens, and are happy to report that none were found from the surface.  This summer, we are looking for volunteer swimmers and divers to expand this surveillance underwater.  And as always, it is critical for boaters to thoroughly inspect their boats before launching.


We work with local and state officials responding to inquiries, and advocate for the health of our pond.  Read Barbara Mitchell’s update on Auburn’s reevaluation of Taylor Pond properties and the status of planned improvements to the Hotel Road Taylor Brook culvert for flood mitigation. Please consider taking advantage of the LakeSmart program –a free evaluation of your property, suggestions for improvements that will keep the pond healthy and a possible  $500 matching grant to make those improvements.  


Please consider volunteering with Taylor Pond Association, which depends on the time and talents of many. There are many ways to serve, including attending public meetings, water quality monitoring, advocacy, education or Board membership. TPA maintains a website www.taylorpond.org where you can read more about the organization and its activities.  Learn more about lake stewardship in general, and how you can be involved, online at either the Lake Stewards of Maine (www.mainevlmp.org) or the Maine Lakes Society (mainelakessociety.org).  Both are holding their annual conferences virtually this year, providing these excellent education opportunities to a broader audience (see page 11). 


Our Annual Meeting is scheduled for August 23 at Taylor Pond Yacht Club, pending COVID-19 developments and our ability to offer a safe meeting format.   We will keep you updated via email.  As noted on the invoice sent in May, dues are optional this year in response to the economic hardship of the pandemic and therefore a reminder invoice is not enclosed in this newsletter.  Your support of our mission, however you are able to show it, is always highly valued.  Thank you.


by Dana Little

What are those swarms of insects found hovering in the air near the pond?  Midges make up most of these groups. The small flies look like tiny mosquitoes but do not bite.  They smear our windshield on a summer night’s drive, swarm over our head as we walk near the pond, cluster near bushes and collect around our porch lights at night.  Most of their life they live in the water and only emerge as adult flies when the water warms up.  Midges first appeared this year in early May, signaling that mayflies would soon appear.

Mayflies emerge as the pond water warms further.  The first hatch I observed this year occurred in mid-May.  Although called mayflies, adults appear all summer long, each species emerging at different times.  It has been claimed that there are 162 species that live in Maine.  When perched they hold their wings over their back like two praying hands.  The adult female lays eggs in the water.  The eggs hatch into the larval stage, the nymph.  To mature, the nymph lives in water for up to three years.  When signaled by rising water temperature, thousands of  nymphs come to the water’s surface where their skin splits and the adults emerge, ready to form a swarm.

Recently emerged Mayfly (2 inches long), resting on an Alder Leaf

Swarms of midges and mayflies can be so large that weather radar will pick them up.  Estimates of swarm sizes range up to 80 billion individuals.  In past springs along Lake Erie, snow plows were used to scoop them off the roads.  As reported in National Geographic recently, scientists have found that the numbers of mayflies around Lake Erie have declined by 50%.  The cause is thought to be water pollution which kills the nymphs.

Males predominate in swarms, whether midges or mayflies.  They cluster together, flying rapidly up and down, waiting for females.  Once they mate the female immediately flies to the water and lays her eggs to begin the cycle again.  Mayflies belong to the group of insects called Ephemeroptera, the name of which is derived from the Greek words ephemeros (lasting only a day) and ptera (wings).  Whereas the aquatic nymph stage lasts up to three years, the flying adult may live only a few hours or days.  

Both mayflies and midges provide food for wildlife.  Midges eat algae and decaying plants in the water and thereby remove phosphorus, improving the health of the pond.  Abundant mayflies in a pond are also a sign of good water quality.  Like midges, they remove phosphorus from the pond, and do not bite.  So please welcome the annual emergence of midges and mayflies.


In 2017, TPA commissioned an engineering study of water levels and flooding issues on Taylor Pond.  The study concluded that removing obstructions to the free flow of Taylor Brook under Hotel Road and Stevens Mill Extension could reduce the chance of flooding on the pond.  In 2019 Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) made plans to improve the Hotel Road culvert, but the project has been delayed (more than once) due to escalation of project costs. The project is currently in the DOT work plan for construction in 2021, an unfortunate delay.
The good news is, once done it will reduce the chance of flooding. Instead of a limited culvert, this will be a bridge that allows water to pass freely down and fish to swim upriver.  Research shows this is better environmentally and cost wise. It is more expensive to construct initially, but requires less maintenance and should have a much longer lifespan than a culvert.

Flooded home on Taylor Pond after hurricane Sandy.

Annual Meeting Minutes 2019

August 4, 2019

Approximately 45 people gathered at the Taylor Pond Yacht Club for the Annual Meeting.

President Dana Little began the meeting by introducing board members who were present: Ed Gray (treasurer), Susan Trask (secretary), Woody Trask, Barbara Mitchell, Bill Turner, Larry Faiman, and Luci Merin (member-elect).

Dana announced that the featured speaker, Erica Kidd of the Auburn Water District, would not be able to attend because of a death in her family.

The minutes from last year’s annual meeting were approved after some clarification regarding the terms of board members.

Dana reviewed the issues that came about in the last year:

  • Hotel Rd. Bridge After great anticipation, we learned that the Hotel Road bridge construction will not happen this year. The State had planned to do the construction this year, but all of the bids for highway construction came in higher than anticipated, so several of the projects had to be put off for another year. Bettyann Sheats did discover that the plan has also been changed from building new (bigger) culverts, to a single bridge span, which actually may be a better plan.
  • Agricultural Zoning As most Auburn residents know, the Mayor and the City Council are wrestling with some proposed changes to the agricultural zone that may have the potential to increase development for both watersheds. Such development could lead to increased phosphorous runoff. At last year’s meeting, many attendees signed a petition which Barbara Mitchell carried to the Zoning Board. For various reasons, our proposed amendment to the previous zoning change (which would have allowed a major construction project at Lost Valley) was rejected. Because of the ongoing Ag Zone issues, we have let this issue go for now. We will continue to monitor the process.
  • Fire Safety Once again we helped the Auburn Fire Department win a $500 grant from a federal agency to conduct a chipping day. About a dozen homeowners from around Taylor Pond participated by having the AFD chip their collected brush. Clearing and disposing of dead and low-hanging brush is one important way to reduce the risk of brush fires. The area around Taylor Pond is densely populated, but also surrounded by trees, which makes it vulnerable to such fires.
  • Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Meeting Dana a board member Donna Morin met with Erica Kidd at the Auburn Water District to discuss issues of mutual interest. As noted above, Ms Kidd had planned to be the featured speaker at our meeting, but had to cancel at the last minute because of a death in her family.

LakeSmart Grant The TPA Shoreline Improvement Grant Program is still up and running. Dana is a certified LakeSmart evaluator, and he will come and inspect your property for you to make recommendations about lake-friendly improvements. He emphasized that he does not report any problems to anyone but the homeowner! He will point out problems and suggest ways for you to fix them in addition to consulting on improvement projects you may have in mind. Once your project is completed, you may submit your invoices for up to $500 in reimbursement if the work complies with best practices. No grant applications have been received this year, and only one was received last year. Don’t miss this great opportunity to not only beautify your property but also help protect Taylor Pond!

Secretary job Susan is retiring as secretary after 14 years of serving in that capacity, so we are looking for someone to take that position. She has been handling communications and archives plus the yearly newsletter. However, those two tasks do not necessarily have to be done by the same person. Susan received a very warm appreciation from those present.

Treasurer’s Report Ed reported that he has added twelve more emails to our membership list. We currently have 124 dues-paying members. We have a balance of $29,694.

New board members Dana proposed the slate of directors for a vote to include returning members Bill Turner, Woody Trask, Barbara Mitchell, and Marc Tardif, and new member Luci  Merin. The slate was approved unanimously.

Water quality report Woody reported that he and Michael Heskanen have both been working on water quality testing. Michael does weekly Secchi Disk readings and Woody conducts the more thorough monthly analyses. We had a really good year in 2018 with especially low phosphorous readings. It’s been good so far this year as well.

There was some discussion about the globs of green slime that we all seem to be seeing. Dana says they are metaphyton, which is a collection of algae in long strings. When it dies it turns brown, which is why we sometimes see brownish water near the edges of the water. There is no relationship between the green blobs and water quality.

Someone asked, “What should we never never do?” Answer: Never fertilize, and don’t create a lawn right up to the water.  Create a buffer strip instead! Another question was asked about pollen; it is not harmful.  One person is concerned about milfoil found in the lake. Dana said there is a difference between milfoil and invasive milfoil, which can take hold in a shallow lake like ours in a very short period of time.  You can take a sample to the Lake Stewards of Maine and they will identify it if you are not sure what you are seeing.

Dana reported that he attended the Lake Associations of Maine conference, where he learned about an outbreak of toxic algae at East Pond in Smithfield (north of Augusta). With the support of the federal government (at a cost of about a half million dollars) they applied alum, which bonds with the phosphorous. It appears to be working. This treatment will also be used in Lake Auburn to help prevent another fish kill. It’s a delicate process which can kill the fish if applied incorrectly. We are fortunate to have not had an algae bloom here. At the Lake Stewards of Maine meeting he attended, they talked about global warming and its effect on Maine lakes. With wetter winters, drier summers, and earlier ice-outs, Taylor Pond remains especially vulnerable. This is all the more reason to stay vigilant with our lake-friendly practices.

Boat ramp: Questions were raised about the status of the boat ramp. Greg Cyr, who owns the Campground where it is located, has been frustrated by boaters misusing the property. They have left trash and neglected to pay. Last year he made some substantial improvements to the ramp and built a gate. The gate is open in the summer on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 am to 7 pm. It is important for everyone who uses it to be respectful. The only other alternative we have is to contact Norm Croteau, who will allow boats to launch by appointment for a substantial fee. In the past the State has explored the idea of putting in a ramp, which would include a small parking area. Most are in agreement that this would encourage day-trippers, and would substantially increase the risk of a milfoil invasion.

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:15, and members enjoyed some snacks and socializing before departing.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Trask, Secretary

Year of the Bird

Dana Little, June 1, 2018

2018 has been designated for the birds!  One hundred years ago Congress passed the Migratory Bird Treaty Act which protects birds that pass between the United States and Canada. This act currently lists over 800 birds for protection.  Prior to passage of the act some birds were hunted to extinction. The Passenger Pigeon once darkened the sky as it flew over this area in flocks of millions. Experts consider it the most common bird in the US and possibly the world in the mid 1800’s.  People hunted the bird to extinction for its meat. Prior to the passage of this act, the abundant Snowy Egret faced a similar fate as hunters sought their feathers to sell for decorating hats.

Over 150 organizations world-wide, including the National Geographic Society and the Audubon Society, are celebrating birds this year in various ways.  My celebration this year will be to participate in the Maine Bird Atlas. This mostly volunteer effort led by IF&W (Inland Fisheries and Wildlife) aims to answer two questions: 1. How many breeding and winter birds can be found in Maine and 2. Where are they found?  I am submitting data to the atlas online through the program Ebird for my observations around Taylor Pond and Androscoggin County.  

Taylor Pond provides diverse habitats for birds including areas of open water, upland woods, swamps, grasslands, fens and marshes.  Over the 19 years that I have lived on the pond I have catalogued 105 species of birds that nest or raise their young in the area. These include seldom seen birds such as the Green Heron, VIrginia Rail and American Bittern or the more commonly seen birds such as the American Robin, Black-capped Chickadee and American Goldfinch.  Another 53 species migrate through the area with the change in seasons. One has to keep an eye out as these birds do not stay long typically. Such transients include many ducks such as Ring-necked, Ruddy, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead and Lesser Scaup. I have observed 6 species of birds almost exclusively in the winter. These include the Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, Bohemian Waxwing and Snow Bunting.

Most birdwatchers consider warblers to be the “jewels” of the bird world.  Bright colors and shy habits make them seldom seen without some effort, but well worth the labor.  They typically winter in Central or South America and travel here only for the brief summer to consume our abundant insect population.  They live only in this part of the world and Maine has one of the highest concentrations thanks to those pesky mosquitoes and blackflies!  I have catalogued 11 species that commonly nest here and another 16 species seen only on their way north.  So I recommend grabbing a pair of binoculars and gazing up into the trees for some entertainment.

President’s Report

Taylor Pond Association continues to work for you using an allvolunteer board.  The Board has been busy this last year, working with City and State officials to ensure the continued quality of our precious resource. Here’s what’s been happening since our Annual Meeting in July of 2017:

Flooding Issues:  Over the years we have been able to create a budget surplus that we drew down this year in contracting two major engineering studies that we felt were in your best interests.  Both studies were done by Joseph McLean of Wright-Pierce engineering and provided us with the level of expertise to make wellinformed recommendations.   

We contracted for the first study to help us reduce the chance of flooding on the pond.  Mr. McLean surprised us when he determined that beaver dams control the usual water level.  He found that the Hotel Road culvert and a public road accessing the Kendall property both obstruct water flow during flooding events.  His findings will help us to reduce flooding and possibly eliminate many homes need for flood insurance. Please read the full article for more details.

Potential construction at Lost Valley:

The City of Auburn contacted me last summer about a commercial development at Lost Valley by Kassbohrer, the manufacturer of snow-grooming equipment.  Ultimately, the manufacturer decided against the site at Lost Valley and instead chose what most would consider a more appropriate site in the industrial park off Merrow Road.  In contacting us, the City wished to know if we had projects that needed funding for phosphorus reduction.  The planned project for Lost Valley was expected to generate additional phosphorus runoff into the pond and the City was looking to offset this by funding improvements in other known phosphorousgenerating areas.  The TPA board met and had three concerns about the project:  (1) Noise generation from running heavy equipment at the site; (2) Large trucks negotiating access along Youngs Corner Road; and (3) The magnitude of phosphorus runoff.  An increase in the pond’s phosphorus could trigger serious algal overgrowth.  We turned again to Wright-Pierce Engineering, who provided us with a comprehensive analysis of the projected impact of this project.  The most important conclusion was: The information provided regarding the Phosphorus Standard does not appear to be in compliance with State regulations and the development appears to be dramatically increasing phosphorus export from the developed parcel. We believe the impact of this report helped to steer Kassbohrer to a safer site in the interests of the health of the pond.

Taylor Pond’s water quality continues to be excellent and is monitored throughout the summer by Woody Trask.  Woody uses his expertise in chemistry to provide us with timely and accurate data to protect water quality. In the past we paid over $4,000 yearly for similar services that now are provided free by Woody.  Please see his annual summary of water quality later in this newsletter.

Taylor Pond provides a rich habitat for wildlife, including fish and birds.  Annually the Maine Department of Marine Resources catches over 3000 adult alewives at the Brunswick dam and places them in our pond.  These fish spawn and the young develop over the summer in our rich waters before returning to the ocean. All summer people enjoy catching bass and during the winter large pike retrieved through holes drilled in the ice.  

Wildlife abounds on the water, surrounding wetlands and woods of Taylor Pond.  This area serves as the breeding ground and a resting spot for migratory birds.  Please read my article on “Year of the Bird” to understand the variety that can be observed.

How to Reduce the Danger of Wildfires

Highlights of the On-Site “Defensible Space” Demonstration

On June 2, about a dozen TPA members gathered on Taywood Rd. for a demonstration of how to mitigate the danger of wildfires around our properties. The demo was led by Forest Ranger Kent Nelson. Also attending and adding their expertise were Auburn Fire Chief Robert Chase, Fire Prevention Officer David O’Connell, and EMT Director Brad Chicoine. All who attended were in agreement that we learned a lot of useful information. Here are a few highlights:

  • Make sure that your street number is clearly visible from both directions.
  • Keep your roof clear of pine needles and debris; clean out gutters regularly.
  • Create defensible space (clear area free of flammable material), as much as possible, within 30 feet of your home. Any flammable vegetation, brush piles, firewood, wood chips, etc. should be moved away from your structure.
  • Care for your lawn and keep it moist.
  • Avoid having an easy path for a fire to spread between properties, such as connecting hedges or wooden fences.
  • Trim low-hanging branches (called ladder fuels) at least 10 feet above the ground.
  • Keep fire-pits, barbecue pits, grills, etc. in proper working order and away from flammable vegetation.

We also learned the proper way to cut and stack limbs and brush. Those who applied to the AFD were eligible to have their brush piles chipped and the chips removed by the MFS and AFD on June 29. Attendees also received free work gloves, saws, and loppers.

Demonstration attendees also learned some facts about local ordinances concerning private burning and fireworks, some of which surprised us. There’s some misinformation out there! Here are a few key regulations to consider:

  • Fireworks are illegal in Auburn, including on holidays such as the Fourth of July.
  • In areas without local prohibitive ordinances, out-of-state fireworks are also prohibited.
  • Private burns are allowed by permit only. Contact the Auburn Fire Department for permitting.
  • Only clean wood may be burned. Paper, cardboard and leaves are among the prohibited items.
  • A burn must be at least 50’ from any structure and at least 25’ from any road.

Annual Meeting 2018

The TPA annual meeting was held at the Taylor Pond Yacht Club on July 29, 2018 beginning at 7:00 pm. Forty-four members and 4 guests were in attendance. President Dana Little opened the meeting with greetings and a review of the agenda.
The minutes from last year’s meeting were unanimously accepted.
Review of the year’s activities: Dana remarked that the Board has been busy during the past year. Issues included:

  • Working to implement the action plan recommended by the engineering study we commissioned last year: We continue to work with the City and the State to make sure that appropriate measures are taken to help mitigate future flooding problems on the Pond.
  • Responding to a construction proposal at Lost Valley: We were made aware of a proposal by a snow-grooming machine manufacturer to build an industrial facility at Lost Valley. We engaged Joe McLean once again to do an engineering study of their proposal, which he found deficient in its phosphorous mitigation plan. There were also concerns about the potential negative effects of heavy equipment in the area, and noise and light pollution, among others. Ultimately, the company changed its plan and decided to build in the Industrial Park.

Petition to exempt watersheds: The Zoning Board had passed a special exemption of the current zoning law in order to allow the construction of the industrial building/business at Lost Valley, which is located in an agricultural zone. Barbara Mitchell researched options and prepared a petition that requests the City Council to exempt the Lake Auburn and Taylor Pond watersheds from that special exemption to the agriculture and resource protection zoning ordinance. We need at least twenty-five signatures; then, after three notices in the newspaper and written notice to abutters, the petition would go to the Planning Board and then be sent to the City Council. The cost for the petition would be $700: $400 to the City for the work they have to do to prepare for the consideration of the amendment, and $300 to the Sun Journal for the public notices in the paper.

Annual Loon Count Peter Durgin reported that on the foggy morning of July 21, he and several others participated in the Annual Loon Count sponsored by the Audubon Society. They counted seven loons, which perhaps includes three or four transients.

Email communications: Susan requested feedback from members about the number and content of emails they receive. She uses a new communication platform which makes it easier to send out notices, so the number of those has increased of late. Recently she was asked to send a notice to TPA members about an event that might be of interest but did not directly relate to Association business. Members seemed in agreement that the emails are in fact welcome, and that an occasional non-TPA note of interest would be acceptable.

Board of Directors vote: Five Board members’ terms expire this summer: Dana Little, Ed Gray, Larry Faiman, Donna Morin, and Kristi Norcross. They have all agreed to serve again and in addition, Jan Phillips has agreed to join. This slate of six directors was voted in unanimously. They join current members Susan Trask, Barbara Mitchell, Marc Tardif, Woody Trask and Bill Turner, whose terms continue until the summer of 2019. Dana remarked on the value of having a robust board with a diverse membership for best results in dealing with the various issues we face.
Water Quality: Woody Trask reported that, overall, the water quality remained excellent last summer. Michael Heskinen has been conducting frequent clarity readings in addition to Woody’s monthly analyses. This summer he has recorded the lowest phosphorous readingever!
Game Warden: Woody reported that he recently had a conversation with the local game warden. The latter stated that he has visited Taylor Pond four times this summer so far. The most violations have been the lack of boat registrations on board the boat. Many people have been able to produce the registration by going home and finding it there. The other major issue is the reports of people in canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards out at night with no lights. Some have also been informed that, in addition to life jackets, a whistle is required for all manually-powered watercraft. Secretary’s note: Maine State Regs dorequire the following:

  • A wearable PFD for every person aboard any watercraft; children 10 and under must wear one.
  • One throwable PFD for every motor-powered craft greater than 16’
  • For paddleboards: a PFD for each person, a whistle, and a light if after dark

See https://www.boat-ed.com/assets/pdf/handbook/me_handbook_entire.pdf for the complete boating regulations handbook.
Financial report Treasurer Ed Gray reports that we have approximately $26,900 in the checking account and 117current members. Most people seem to appreciate the email invoices we have been using. Please continue to update him with any changes in your address.

Questions from members

  • Is there an update on the boat launch issue? For background: Earlier this summer the owner of The Campground, where most of us launch our motorboats, complained that too many people were not contributing the $5 donated fee. There were offers from some members to take up a collection, but he does not want a donation. He seems weary of having the only “public” boat launch and may close it to all but the campers at Sunrise. He also chose not to attend a Board meeting to discuss it. If the State decides to create a public launch, then we would be very concerned about the possibility of invasive milfoil.
  • What about swimmer’s itch? On Father’s Day, those who swam at the Yacht Club beach contracted swimmers’ itch. It was also reported from near Valview Dr, but not recently. Dana said that it is caused by a parasite that needs not only a duck host, but also a snail host to survive. It is very uncomfortable, but not dangerous. Shallower water is more likely to have it. It’s a good reminder to never encourage visits by ducks!

Maine Program: Fire Safety Susan introduced Kent Nelson of the Maine State Forest Service. Also in attendance were Auburn Fire Chief Bob Chase and Administrative Manager Sarah Hulbert.  Susan re-capped TPA’s collaboration with the Forest Service and the Auburn Fire Department, which culminated in June with a fire safety workshop and a community chipping day.
Ranger Nelson presented a slide show which educated us on how to identify and mitigate wildfire risks on our properties, and also to report on the results of the fire risk survey that was conducted around Taylor Pond last fall. The properties around Taylor Pond are identified as being in the Wildlife Urban Interface (WUI), where homes meet the forest. There are specific risk factors and recommendations for those living in the WUI.
The fall assessment included a 23-question survey of various random locations around the Pond. Some owners had requested a personal survey, which was also done. Others may request a personal survey as well.
A brief summary of results:

  • 95% of homes have only one access road
  • 35% of homes had no signs
  • 60% have less than 30 ft. of “defensible space” ; 30% have 30-70 ft.
  • 15% had a high rating for combustible fuel near the home
  • 30% rated high risk of wildfire; 65% rated moderate
  • 55%  exhibited combustible roof litter
  • Water availability was inconsistent
  • Response time: an hour or less by ranger; 45 minutes or less by helicopter

The complete report will be posted on the TPA website: www.taylorpondassociation.org.
Ranger Nelson suggested that, while some of the above issues are not easily resolved, owners could focus immediately on three actions:

  1. Work to create a “defensible space” (i.e. the area around the home available for firefighters to defend the home.
  2. Reduce the amount of shrubbery and trees that are in direct contact with your structures. Pine trees provide better potential combustion than do hardwoods.
  3. Make sure that your property is well-identified. Post 6” house numbers that are clearly visible from both directions.

Although just a few property owners participated in the free chipping day, there will be opportunities in the future to do so again. He is hoping more folks will take advantage of it. The Forest Service has just created a new system for reporting current fire danger in the State: www.mainefireweather.org
Chief Chase was questioned about the availability of water around the Pond for fighting fires. He acknowledged that Auburn does not have a tanker truck for areas that are not served with hydrants (including much of the TP shoreline). It is generally not practical to try to pump water from the lake because the equipment needs to be within 30 feet of the water in order to work. Dry hydrants can be installed, but need to be serviced regularly, are quite expensive, and are tricky to engineer properly. When asked about year-round water in order to ensure hydrant availability, he said that the issue would be wrapped into a general survey of all the rural areas of Auburn in order to supply the best overall outcomes in the most cost-effective manner.
Dana thanked Ranger Nelson and Chief Chase for their presentations and information; the audience was most appreciative. The meeting was adjourned, and the two remained for a while, fielding individual questions from members.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan Trask, Secretary

Wildfire Protection Plan

The Maine Forest Service and Auburn Fire Department prepared a comprehensive Wildfire Protection Plan for Taylor Pond.  The complete report can be found at this link.  The executive summary can be found below:

Executive Summary of the 2018 Community Wildfire Protection Plan

The goal of the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) assessment program is to evaluate a community for hazards in the event of a wildfire in the wildland urban interface (the area where homes intermingle with wildland vegetation).  The assessment also identifies the means by which any hazards found can be mitigated. The objective is to minimize the ability of fire to move between wildland and structures, thereby reducing the threat to life and property.

In 2010 the Maine Forest Service recorded 562 wildland fires, although the actual number of wildland fires could be higher.  Nearly 75% of these fires in 2010 destroyed, damaged, or threatened structures.

During the five year period between 2006 and 2010  the Maine Forest Service recorded 1,235 wildland fires in the Southern District (which encompasses Auburn ME) burning an estimated total area of 1,043.41 acres.  Examples of historic wildfire suppression costs in Maine communities include: Allagash (1992, $522,855.96); Garfield Plt (1991, $305,593.83); Baileyville (1998, $286,668.43); Freeport (1991, $271,035.00); Dixfield (2002, $90,338.59); Milo (2002, $76,795.21); Bucksport (2001, $68,650.00); Northport (2001, $67,957.80); and Centerville (2006, $35,703.14).

During the assessment, 20 structural and 4 vegetative sites were evaluated within the wildland urban interface area.  The assessment focused on such issues as building materials, defensible space, access, road signage, and water availability.  Methodology and detailed results of the assessment are found in the main body of this report. Overall, the structures assessed within Taylor Pond had an average score that falls into the ‘moderate’ risk category with some high and some low risk.

Inadequate defensible space and flammable vegetation inside defensible space are the greatest source of Taylor Pond’s elevated risk.  Factors including low water availability, quality of access roads, and signage contribute to this risk.  This report contains recommendations to rectify the identified issues, along with suggestions for building materials, low-flammable plants, and guidelines for the safe placement of firewood and fuel storage tanks for existing and development areas.

The factors contributing to increased fire risk in the wildland urban interface found within Taylor Pond area can be lessened by following the strategies outlined in this report, “decreasing the risk of catastrophic fire and loss of life and property.”

To see the complete report go to this link.