Karl Hartwell, whose North Gorham land abuts part of the Portland Water District’s Sebago Lake Land Reserve, parked his car at the side of Route 237 in Standish recently and headed into the woods to pick blueberries with his dog – just like he’d done a hundred times before.

But when he returned to his car with his bucket of berries, a pink slip of paper rested beneath his windshield wiper.

According to the notice, issued by Portland Water District Security Officer Rod Beaulieu, Hartwell had committed a “green zone violation.” That is, he accessed the Land Reserve without a permit to do so.

Last spring, before initiating their new, self-service permitting system, the District held meetings to inform the public of their intent to monitor the land.

“We held four meetings during April to explain policies to our abutters,” Beaulieu said. “We asked them for input and received some good suggestions.”

About ten kiosks were installed at existing trail entrances in early June.

Each of these kiosks contains two-copy blank permits for visitors to complete, leaving one copy in the box provided and keeping the other for their daily permit to be on the Land Reserve.

Hartwell admits he was aware of the District’s “No Trespassing” sign but, as he had been picking blueberries there for years, chose to ignore it.

“Hartwell’s vehicle was parked off Route 237 on our property,” Beaulieu said. “I checked the kiosk that was a hundred feet away from the car and the box was empty.”

Beaulieu also said he observed fresh tracks into the woods and assumed the owner of the car was on the property.

“I understand they want to know who’s on their property,” Hartwell said. “But will we have to stop at a kiosk every time we want to walk in the woods?”

Not if you are an abutter, according to Beaulieu.

From input the district received at one of April’s meetings, it came up with what they call a “hard card,” similar to an employee identification card. That way, those who own property that abuts or is close to district land may obtain a permanent pass instead of having to travel to a kiosk every time they want to enjoy the Land Reserve property.

When questioned how he felt the kiosk system was working for Standish residents, Standish Town Manager Gordon Billington said, “We asked for PWD to give us feedback as to the kiosks at the next steering committee meeting. We haven’t heard anything yet.”

Beaulieu said that the feedback is positive.

“Ninety percent of the people are cooperative,” Beaulieu said. “And with most of the violations, it’s because the people didn’t know. What we’re doing over the course of the summer is just educating people.”

Beaulieu said that often, the violation is by someone who is renting a cottage nearby who isn’t aware of the regulation.

Though the district wants to educate the public about the kiosks, they’d prefer to keep it small in scale.

“We’re not creating big parking lots and advertising the area,” said Michelle Clements, spokesperson for the Portland Water District. “The Sebago Lake Land Reserve is a resource to local people who can enjoy it in a sensible way.”

And beginning with the first permit, filled out at a kiosk on June 9, there have been 200 issued up to this point with an additional number in the form of permanent passes.

During the same time frame, 319 violations have been recorded.

As to how the kiosks have fared through the summer, Beaulieu said, “We have a few kiosks in pretty remote locations and we haven’t had a scratch on one of them. People for the most part are very respectful.”

For more information on the kiosks or to apply for a “hard card” permanent pass, contact Chad Thompson at 774-5961, extension 3323.

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