The Comprehensive Planning Committee (CPC) is presently studying how to preserve one of Bowdoinham’s most important and fast-disappearing resources: its scenic rural views. We are asking for public input to identify the rural views that are most distinctive and what they would like to see the town focus on preserving. Scenic rural can be any rural views along roadway corridors, or areas of the town where open spaces still dominate. Specific viewsheds like the panoramic view of the bay from Bay Road and views from trails will be taken up in later studies.
Bowdoinham’s rural landscape consists of fields, farmland, and large wooded tracts. In this study we are concerned primarily with fields and farmland, what we call “open space”. Bowdoinham has a great deal of wooded land, but a rapidly diminishing quantity of fields and farmland. Up until the 1950’s, there were a great many open spaces. However, between 1957 and 2012, nearly two thirds of them disappeared. Several factors were the cause, most importantly the changing economics of farming, which resulted in large areas of farmland reverting to shrubs and woodlands. The one-by-one development of house lots has also been a significant factor. Despite this, several rural road corridors with distinctive scenic views and open spaces remain. The purpose of the current study is to identify these road sections as a first step toward preserving them for future generations. Without such an effort, Bowdoinham’s beautiful rural scenery is very likely to completely disappear over the course of the next few decades, and along with it the town’s rural character which we are so proud of.
What is a distinctive scenic rural landscape? Towns throughout Maine and New England have been answering this question in various ways, depending on their geography and population density. In general, most studies agree that the following features contribute to beauty in a rural landscape: (1) the presence of farmland (especially actively used farmland), (2) open fields with gently rolling topography, (3) water views, (4) Vintage housing and farm buildings, stonewalls, and old apple orchards, and (5) distant views of hills. Factors that detract from scenic beauty can include commercial development, housing subdivisions in open spaces, and closely spaced house lots.
CPC members Bill Stanton and Kevin Twine surveyed Bowdoinham’s rural landscape and identified several road sections that could potentially be designated as scenic corridors. They are shown on the accompanying map and listed on the next page. In the next stage of the study, we plan to further evaluate these areas, and other scenic areas that the public might think important, to determine which should be identified in the Comprehensive Plan as critical resources to preserve. It is hoped that this awareness will lead to finding ways to accommodate future development while retaining the town’s rural character.
Below are two ways for you to contribute your ideas. We will collect this information in March and April.
1.For those who would like their voices heard in detail, please fill out the Bowdoinham Scenic Route Evaluation Form printed on the last page of this newsletter and drop it off at the library or town office. Or pick up a copy from the Town Office. Alternatively, you can fill out the form online at Bowdoinham.com/scenicrouteeval . On the form you can evaluate any of the areas listed, or add other areas of particular interest. All the answers will be reviewed by the full Comprehensive Planning Committee.
2.For others who prefer not to use the form, simply send us photos. For many of us, a picture is worth a thousand words! Upload your photos and the locations where they were taken to: Bowdoinham.com/scenicsubmissions or email them to email@example.com with the subject line “Scenic Photo Submission”.
We are evaluating scenic roadway sections in all seasons, so send us winter photos as well as ones taken in spring, summer, or fall. Remember to tell us which roadway corridor (Route 24, White Road, etc.) and other details of the location, so we can easily locate them.
The Comprehensive Planning Committee will be asking for more feedback and ideas about this important topic in the months ahead. In these present days of limited personal contact, it is more important than ever that we hear from you.
Thank you in advance for your attention and participation.