Plants of Baxter State Park Project
At over 200,000 acres, Baxter State Park is the crown jewel of Maine’s north woods. It includes some of the most sublime mountain landscapes in the eastern United States, and Maine’s most unique and pristine natural areas. It is also a hotspot of plant biodiversity, harboring many rare and endangered species. Most botanical research has focused on the alpine areas of Katahdin, but in the remainder of the park plant biodiversity is still largely unknown. Over 80 years after Percival Baxter made his first gift of land to the State of Maine, a complete plant inventory of the park has never been conducted.
Baxter State Park has identified this lack of information as a pressing management issue. The Plants of Baxter State Park project is a collaborative, multi-year effort to meet this challenge with citizen science and the support of Maine’s finest professional botanists. The project is a partnership of the Maine Natural History Observatory, Baxter State Park, Friends of Baxter State Park, Stewards LLC, University of Maine Herbarium, Maine Natural Areas Program, and members of the Josselyn Botanical Society. The project has set an ambitious, five-year goal: a complete plant inventory of Baxter State Park.
Based on this inventory, the Plants of Baxter State Park project will develop resources to help park managers meet critical needs in the areas of biodiversity conservation, outreach, and education. Project goals in these areas include:
- Publish a user-friendly, color field guide to the plants of Baxter State Park
- Develop a database of plant distribution, abundance, and status for park managers
- Create a baseline for monitoring the impacts of climate change
- Engage citizen scientists and the public to take an interest in the plants of Baxter State Park and Maine’s north woods.
- Share results with the public through the innovative Go Botany project, funded by the National Science Foundation
The Plants of Baxter State Park project began with a successful field season in 2012. Twenty-two volunteers, including high school students, amateur botanists, retirees, and professional naturalists, spent over 900 hours on the project. These citizen scientists documented over 750 plant species – including 150 never before found in the park – and took over 4,000 digital photos. The 2013 field season is now underway, with eight week-long research expeditions scheduled.
The Plants of Baxter State Park project needs your support!
Get involved: The project is actively seeking citizen scientists. You can help document the plants of the park with your digital camera and GPS while you hike. Plant expertise is NOT required. Citizen Scientist information.
Donate: Donors have a unique opportunity to support conservation, education, and outreach in one of Maine’s most beloved parks, and to leave a legacy of responsible stewardship to future generations of Maine citizens. Please contribute to the Plants of Baxter State Park Project. Just select “Special Appeal” and write “Plants of Baxter” in the space provided before making your donation.
Learn: Get more details about the Plants of Baxter State Park Project.
Visit the Plants of Baxter State Park page at the website of the Maine Natural History Observatory, the lead organization for the project.