The Penquis Virtual Nature Center represents the area of central Maine between Bangor and Dover-Foxcroft approximatetly where Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties meet. It is a region of low rolling hills with rocky outcroppings and swamps scattered throughout. It was covered by a ice sheet during the most recent (Wisconsin) glaciation and a great deal of the soil is rocky post glacial soil. As the glaciers retreated, humans and other animals and colonized the newly exposed land.
The advancing glaciation had left behind remnant pockets of once widespread plant communities. From these pockets, the new communities developed. The peculiarities of the various remnant pockets make the vegetation of eastern North America more similar to that of Asia than to that of western North America in many of its details.
In the area some crops are grown, corn, potatoes, and various others. Farmers typically rotate crops to preserve soil nutrients. Dairy farming, pork and egg production, and a few other types of farm products are found as well.
There is some logging and some wood processing in the region. Recreation is important, but the area is off the major tourist paths. The bulk of tourism is found nearer the coast and farther north at places such as Baxter State Park where Mt. Katahdin and the head of the Appalachian Trail draw concentrations of people.
North of Bangor there is little industry and what there is is being lost to outside competition, especially from offshore enterprises where wages and working conditions are not considered as important as they are in this country. Even the wood products industry is weakening due to a number of factors, lower demand, offshore competition from countries with little environmental concern, speculation, corporate mergers, and the whole gamet of national economic factors tending to to reward economies of scale.
The Penquis Nature Center itself represents about a square mile of varied terrain. Most of it is — or will be — accessible by trail. Some will be considered as trailless areas for special access as plans develop.
One set of trails will go along the higher and dryer country, the ridgetops and upland valleys. Another will explore the creek bottom, including the beaver pond, and the boggy low-lying areas. There will also be a set that traverses both areas. All trails have a short and long loops.
image: Jue Wang