PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Portland city officials and people who live near Capisic Pond gathered Saturday morning to see the progress of the city's improvement project on the wildlife habitat.

Capisic Pond has slowly decreased in size over the years due to growing vegetation, which encumbered wildlife such as birds, ducks and turtles, making their habitat smaller.

The goal of the project is to restore open water and enhance wildlife habitat in the largest freshwater body in Portland. The project included:

  • Temporary draining of the pond and bypassing of Capisic Brook to allow for work within the pond
  • Removal of cattails from within the boundary of the pond
  • Dredging of sediments from within the boundary of the pond
  • Construction of defined benches and banks along the pond edge using dredged pond sediment
  • Removal of excess dredged sediment from the site
  • Planting of a diverse mix of vegetation on the reconstructed pond edges

City councilor Ed Suslovic said the pond is a popular spot for wildlife enthusiasts to bird watch, and that the improvement project will encourage more people from the Greater Portland Area to visit.

"Some of the neighbors who have been working on this for over 20 years, they knew what was hidden behind the cattails, and they're saying this is what they had hoped for," Suslovic said. "It exceeds my expectations tremendously."

Cattails were removed to increase the available area for wildlife.

Neighbors also enjoy what the pond offers for their children.

"Just to see all those cattails and to see this area open up and be a real pond now, it's amazing," said Tony Schwieterman, a nearby resident.

The pond was drained in May and the dredging began three months later in August. The work is expected to be complete by the end of November.

The project schedule was driven by wetland permits issued by the Maine Department of Environmental Projection (DEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A wildlife management plan was developed for the construction project. The plan included the relocation of turtles as well as monitoring for other wildlife species that may have been located within the project area.

A plan was also developed during the permitting process for the future maintenance of the project area.