Images of snowy egrets, glossy ibis and great blue herons, along with other marsh animals, now grace a new art installation along the Scarborough Marsh section of the Eastern Trail.

The new informational sign, which was created by local artist Jada Fitch, teaches trail users about the various marsh animals, as well as offering a bit of information about the marsh itself, including its historic Native American name – Owascoag, or Land of Many Grasses.

The sign is located just north of the bridge over the Scarborough River in a spot that overlooks a bend in the river, which is a popular spot for bird watching.

The goal of the project is for the artwork to “mimic what you see” out on the marsh, according to Bob Bowker, vice president of the Eastern Trail Alliance and a Scarborough resident.

“We just thought it would be a good enhancement to the trail,” he added.

The interpretative sign is the first in a series that the trail alliance has planned, Bowker said.

The next sign will likely be placed on the Biddeford section of the Eastern Trail, which runs from Kittery to Bug Light in South Portland and which is part of the larger East Coast Greenway.

The signs are being paid for through a $7,000 donation that the trail group received anonymously last fall, Bowker said.

There were no strings attached to the money, and, Bowker said, trail overseers agreed that creating and installing interpretative signs depicting the wildlife that can be seen along the Eastern Trail, as well as sharing trail history, would be a good use of the funds.

Bowker said the sign recently installed on the Scarborough Marsh section of the trail meets National Park Service standards and should therefore stand the test of time.

He also said trail overseers were “very happy” with Fitch’s work and said the alliance is “considering further collaborations with Jada.”

Bowker said that while most of the feedback on the new interpretative sign has been from Eastern Trail board members, overall it’s been “very well received and we will definitely be doing more of these.”

Fitch, whose client list includes the Maine Audubon Society, the Humane Society, the Cambridge University Press and Appleseeds magazine, said the Eastern Trail project was just perfect for her.

“Birds are my favorite subject matter and I love working on educational pieces, as well as Maine wildlife-centered projects, and this combined all of those elements,” she said.

Fitch added, “I hope seeing my artwork helps people take the time to appreciate our planet’s natural beauty that has taken millions of years to create. Bringing local wildlife to the attention of the public is essential for the conservation of those species, as well as all of the other local flora and fauna. Trail signs are a great way to show people what’s living around them.”

Fitch also said that being able to identify plants and animals in the wild “is a skill all Mainers should have.”

What she most enjoyed about working on this project with the Eastern Trail Alliance was “making the animals on this sign easily recognizable. I want people out and about on the trail to be able to point at a bird or seal and know exactly what species they’re looking at.”

According to her website, Fitch grew up in Sebago and now lives in Portland with her husband and their dog. In addition to her artwork, she also enjoys birding, knitting or watching nature documentaries.

Other recent projects include illustrating the children’s book, “A Snowy Owl Story,” by Melissa Kim, which was written specifically for a pre-school audience.

The book, which hit the shelves earlier this year, was published by Islandport Press and is the first in a new series the press is working on with Maine Audubon. In addition, 10 percent of sales go toward the group’s outreach programs in underserved preschools.

Birds and other creatures found in the Scarborough Marsh are the subject of a new art installation along the Eastern Trail.


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