Middleboro Land Protection Project Receives State Funding

This week, we received some most welcome news:  the Town of Middleboro Conservation Commission qualified for a Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (“LAND”) Grant award from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the Lions Head Peninsula land acquisition project. 

The Lions Head Peninsula Project will preserve 81 acres of diverse woodland, floodplain, and frontage along the lower Nemasket River in Middleboro, just east of the Nemasket’s confluence with the federally-designated Wild and Scenic Taunton River.  The Property is within areas designated by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program as important habitat areas for two rare species, the Northern Red-Bellied Cooter and the Eastern Box Turtle, and also includes at least two potential vernal pools.   It also includes the unique landscape feature known as the Lions Head, which viewed from above appears to many as resembling the head of a large feline (take a look at the above photo and judge for yourself). 

The project will enable public access for a wide range of passive recreational pursuits.  The Lions Head property contains an existing network of woods roads and footpaths that collectively comprise about one mile, and will link with trails on adjacent properties.   These new linkages will create an expanded trail system near the confluence of the Nemasket and Taunton Rivers, and represent a true community resource. 

Owned by the Jigerjian family for over 30 years, the Lions Head property has been a preservation priority for the Town, the Trust, and others for decades because of its extensive riparian frontage, rare species habitat, and proximity to protected open space parcels along the lower Nemasket River corridor.  Representatives from the Trust and the Town maintained a dialogue over the years with the Jigerjians that eventually culminated in the deal negotiated by Middleboro Conservation Agent Tricia Cassady to preserve the property. 

Around in various iterations since the early 1960’s, the LAND Grant Program provides funding to municipalities for land preservation projects, and is often an essential component of a project’s funding structure.  For this project, the $400,000 LAND Grant award represents half of the $800,000 purchase price, with Middleboro Community Preservation Act open space funds and funding from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation comprising the balance.  The Nature Conservancy also contributed funds for due diligence.

As Tricia noted, “the Middleboro Conservation Commission is excited about receiving a LAND Grant award for the Jigerjian project, which will preserve extensive frontage along the Nemasket River and the distinctive Lions Head peninsula.  The Jigerjian family long wished to see their property preserved, and the LAND Grant award is a critical catalyst toward this outcome.”

The Lions Head property will represent an outstanding and substantial addition to Middleboro’s open space portfolio, and on a larger scale, to the mosaic of conservation lands along the Wild and Scenic Taunton River corridor.  The Trust is pleased to be collaborating with Tricia and the Conservation Commission on the project, and we look forward to co-holding a Conservation Restriction on the property with DCR.  

- Scott MacFaden, Director of Land Protection at Wildlands Trust

Linking up Local Land Conservationist

Why was forester Phil Benjamin presenting in the Trust's Community Conservation Barn earlier this month? And who was in the audience?

For the past few years, Wildlands Trust has brought together southeastern Massachusetts town open space committee members, conservation agents, conservation commissioners, and land trust committees together for quarterly Open Space Forums. These forums are held to help share information about how towns have handled challenges on managing their open space, how they have effectively utilized funding sources, how they have found success with public outreach, and much more.

Not only do Open Space Forums help facilitate open discussion, information sharing, and collaboration, but the Trust invites various professionals to present on relevant and interesting conservation topics. On November 9, over twenty local conservation workers gathered in the Community Conservation Barn to learn about forest stand health and active management, invasive species control, and wildlife habitat from Certified Forester and Director of the Mass Forest Alliance Phil Benjamin. 

Previous Open Space Forum headlining topics have included: Forest Health Management, Trail Design, Signage & Amenities, Social media for Public Outreach, Conservation Partnerships & LAND Grants, Climate Adaptation, and GIS Habitat Mapping. At our next forum we will be presenting on the topic of building ADA Accessible Trails. 

We'd like to thank Phil Benjamin and all of our past presenters and attendees for continuing to make these forums meaningful and useful for local conservation efforts. 

If you are a conservation professional and would like to be included in the invites please contact Ryan Krapp, Community Conservation Program Manager at rkrapp@wildlandstrust.org.

Meet Ryan Krapp - our new Program Manager of Community Conservation

You may have met Ryan at the opening of Wildlands Trust Marshfield Hoyt-Hall preserve where Ryan showcased all the work he did to create a beautiful new trail system.  Ryan first worked as a consultant for Wildlands Trust and in October 2016 the Trust welcomed him on board as a full-time staff member. 

Ryan earned his bachelors and masters degrees in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from the University of North Dakota and has over 15 years of experience working for state fish and wildlife agencies and also as an environmental consultant with various private engineering firms.  He has experience in project management, planning, and natural resource surveys, Endangered Species Act and Wetland Protection Act compliance, permitting, and consultation with federal and state wildlife agencies and local conservation commissions. Ryan has extensive experience in the use of Geographic Information Systems.

Ryan is an avid outdoorsman and takes full advantage of the numerous natural environments in SE Massachusetts including saltwater and freshwater fishing, hunting, hiking and lobstering in the Canal. He is passionate about conservation and recognizes the importance of getting youth involved with outdoor activities. He has won numerous national awards within the Mule Deer Foundation and was honored by Field and Stream Magazine as the 2014 Conservation Hero of the Year.

He will be heading up the new Community Conservation Program at Wildlands Trust which offers consultation and project management to private, municipal, town and other nonprofit organizations.

He currently is assisting LStar Management at SouthField in the design and installation of numerous trail systems within the forest and grassland habitats at the former site of the United States Naval Air Station in South Weymouth. He is also assisting other nonprofit and local municipalities interested developing and maintaining recreational trails and trail-related facilities.

Please contact Ryan if you have any questions about assistance on stewardship projects or any of the conservation programs at Wildlands Trust. 

Trust-held Conservation Restriction in Hanson Helps Protect Town Water Supply and Riparian Corridor

The Trust partnered with the Town of Hanson to preserve an 11.2 acre parcel which is one of Hanson’s earliest CPA-funded open space acquisitions.  The Town acquired the Property with the Trust’s assistance several years ago, and we completed the Conservation Restriction earlier this year. 

The Property expands a wildlife corridor and green-way along Poor Meadow Brook, a tributary of the Wild & Scenic Taunton River, and helps to protect the nearby Crystal Spring well field.  Thanks to Hanson Open Space Committee Chair Phil Clemons for his outstanding work in helping to advance this project to completion.  

Eagle Scouts Complete Project at Willow Brook Preserve

Willow Brook Preserve is experiencing a makeover this fall with the help of twins, Camden and Colton Cappa, from Pembroke Boy Scouts Troop 105. Both have hiked the preserve in the past and saw some ways that they could enhance visitor experience.

Camden is working on the carpentry side of things, replacing older benches and installing a picnic table which will allow visitors to stop and grab a bite while taking in a view of the picturesque fields at Willow Brook. Colton will be installing signage to help guide walkers to Willow Brook Preserve's most visited spots which include the Tower and the Mary-Harry Todd trail. Colton is also partnering with local drone photographer, Lee Woodward, to get some beautiful HD aerial shots of our preserve which we will be sharing on our Facebook page and website.

During this project, Camden and Colton received help from friends: Coleman Earner, Lucas Evans, Justin Geiser, Connor Giese, Eric/Greg Kaplowitz, Nicholas Palmer, Coleman/Sean Spring, and Thomas Tremblay.  If you know of any Boy Scouts who are looking for an Eagle Scout project, feel free to contact eboyer@wildlandstrust.org.

Help Us Raise the Roof!

Early this coming November the doors to our Community Conservation Barn will open in celebration! This new building, which replaces the original family barn at Davis-Douglas Farm, is so close to completion, but to finish we need your help! In our final phase of fundraising, your donation will help “Raise the Roof” with 6,000 board feet of local pine for the ceiling of the Conservation Barn. 

Our vision is for the Conservation Barn to be a venue for community engagement and environmental learning at Davis-Douglas Farm. Public programs, events, lectures, and meetings at the barn will aid in our mission to connect people to nature, inspiring broader support for land protection. We are most grateful to the community for supporting this important addition to Wildlands Trust’s new home.

While all donations are greatly appreciated, when you contribute $200 or more, you will be invited to our “Raise the Roof” Celebration on November 5, 2016! This level of support makes you a “Roof-Raiser”, and you will be recognized on the donor banner that will hang from the rafters of the finished barn. You can give online or respond to a mailing you may have received asking for your support.

We only have a short way to go before we have completed the restoration of the Davis-Douglas Farm property on Long Pond Road.  The beautiful land has been saved, the antique farm house restored, wildlife gardens planted, the iconic water tower has been restored, and the office is bustling! Come for a visit anytime!

 

Please contact Sue Chamberlain at 774-343-5121 ext 101 or schamberlain@wildlandstrust.org if you have any questions about the project or if you did not receive a mailing and would like one.

Sierra Club Volunteer Week

                                        Sierra Club volunteers gather at the new trail head at Emery East Preserve

                                        Sierra Club volunteers gather at the new trail head at Emery East Preserve

On the week of August 15, volunteers from around the country took a Sierra Club working vacation right here at Wildlands Trust! Sierra Club offers these volunteer vacations to "give back to Mother Nature" on public lands across the country. Organizers began planning their trip with Wildlands Trust almost two years ago, and we were all very happy to see it come together at last!

Our week began at Emery Preserve East, on Ship Pond Road in Plymouth. This preserve helped launch Wildlands Trust (then Plymouth County Wildlands Trust) back in 1973 and is now part of the Davis-Douglas Conservation Area. Before we started work on Monday morning, the trail system at Emery East was in need of repair, and the small yet serene Cotton Pond was barely accessible to the public. With twenty two eager volunteers, we knew we could put a trail system here that would do this property justice!

Volunteers armed with hand tools spent hour after hour, day after day cutting, raking, pulling, and hauling. By the end of the week we were able to officially open a trail system ending in a loop to Cotton Pond, which we fondly call the Cotton Pond Trail. Posted signage helped make the opening official! However, there is (always) more work to be done there. If you're interested in helping widen the trail, put in benches, and install steps make sure to check out the September 10 Trailblazers work day!

During the week, these dedicated volunteers not only restored Cotton Pond Trail, but spend time doing service projects all over Plymouth. Here at the Wildlands Trust headquarters, they completed of a compost bin, benches which will be installed on various preserves, and the transplant and seeding of a new pollinator garden. The next morning, a giant pile of wood from a washed up dock and other trash was hauled about a half a mile from the beach to the trail head at Plymouth's Center Hill Preserve.

                               Sierra Club volunteers haul a washed up dock to the Center Hill Preserve trail head.

                               Sierra Club volunteers haul a washed up dock to the Center Hill Preserve trail head.

All of us at Wildlands Trust would like to extend a very big Thank You to the volunteers and organizers of this wonderful trip! We hope to work with the Sierra Club in the future on more projects throughout our service region.

Click here to find out more about Sierra Club working vacations.

Poison Ivy Be Gone

     While trail clearing this spring in efforts to open up the Hoyt-Hall Preserve in Marshfield to public recreation (stay tuned for official opening announcement – Fall 2016!) Wildlands Trust noticed that heavy patches of the nuisance poison ivy occur along portions of the trail system.  Wildlands Trust decided to try a no-chemical treatment with GoGreenGoat to eradicate the poison ivy.  

     For one week, four goats did a great job browsing down all things green along the walking trail. The Trust will be monitoring the regrowth of the woody nuisance ivy over the next few growing seasons. We will likely reenlist the services of the goats in future projects across Wildlands Trust properties in southeastern Massachusetts.

Trust "Green Team" Gets Outdoors

 

Seven local students completed Wildlands Trust 2016 Green Team this summer.  Despite being in the midst of a July heat wave, Green Team members spent two weeks learning about an array of topics in the environmental field from local professionals and volunteering with them as well.  Some of the highlights included:

  • Constructing Bluebird boxes for Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable and learning about wildlife rehabilitation from Lynn Miller.
  • A birding walk and workshop with Brian Harrington at our Great River Preserve, followed by trail maintenance throughout Great River.
  • A beach cleanup at Center Hill Preserve in Plymouth.
  • Constructing a trail at the Halfway Pond preserve to connect to Myles Standish State Park trails.
  • Learning about organic growing from Kofi Ingersoll of Bay End Farm in Bourne and harvesting garlic.

Wildlands Trust’s Green Team provides job training for high school students interested in natural resource work. Under the supervision of Wildlands Trust Staff, students undertake trail maintenance and construction, wildlife nesting box construction, beach cleanups, and invasive species removal and farming projects. Students who complete the program receive a stipend for their efforts.

 

Trust Assumes Stewardship of Plymouth Farmland

On July 13, the Trust accepted a transfer of 58 acres in the Chiltonville section of Plymouth from the Eel River Watershed Association.  Colloquially known as the Whipple Farm or less commonly the Eel River Fields, the property includes open fields, extensive frontage on the Eel River, and pastoral views that provide a striking contrast to Plymouth’s more common landscape features such as ponds, pine barrens, and coastline. 

The land is under an Agricultural Preservation Restriction that ensures it will always be used for some type of agricultural activity.  Presently, Manomet farmer Jen Friedrich grows vegetables on a portion of the land, and another local farmer harvests hay several times during the year.  

With its rolling hills, expansive fields, and historic homes, Chiltonville is one of Plymouth’s most scenic enclaves.  The Trust has long had holdings in Chiltonville with the Eel River and Withington Preserves, but this new acquisition joins with these nearby preserves to significantly expand our presence in the area.  

While cranberry farming is the most dominant type of agricultural endeavor in Plymouth, the Eel River Fields will always provide fertile ground for a wide range of “terrestrial” farming opportunities.  We look forward to working with Farmer Jen and others to explore the possibilities for maximizing the property’s agricultural potential.      

Thanks to Mettie Whipple and the Eel River Watershed Association for entrusting this distinctive component of Plymouth’s landscape to the Trust. 

What Hiking Does To The Brain Is Pretty Amazing

By Michael W. Pirrone

The great outdoors might just be greater than you think. There are plenty of us who love to spend as many hours of the day outdoors as we can, and hiking is obviously quite healthy for the body, but few of us ever give a lot of thought to how hiking could benefit our mental health as well. It turns out that hiking might just be your ticket to a brand-new brain, whether you’re passionate about the outdoors, or just force yourself to take a stroll around your local park.

Recent studies about the effects of hiking and nature have been directed at understanding just how this recreational activity affects both the physiological and mental aspects of our brains. One of the main reasons for this glut of research is because we’re spending so much less time outdoors, overall. The average American child now spends half as much time outside as compared to only 20 years ago. HALF. Only 6% of children will play outside on their own in a typical week. Conversely, kids are now spending almost 8 hours per day watching television, playing video games, or using a computer, tablet, or phone for recreational purposes. That number actually jumps up to 10 hours if you count doing two things at once! Overall, Americans now spend 93% of their time inside a building or vehicle.

So, what does this mean for human beings? Well, unless we get a little more proactive about embracing fresh air and dirt under our feet, the prognosis is pretty grim. The bright side is, as with all great medicine, when it comes to the outdoors, a little goes a long way.

Nature really does clear your head.

According to a study published last July in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a 90-minute walk through a natural environment had a huge positive impact on participants. In a survey taken afterwards, those people who took the natural walk showed far lower levels of brooding, or obsessive worry. The control group who spent that 90 minutes walking through a city reported no such difference. Not only that, but the scientists went a step further and did brain scans of the subjects. They found that there was decreased blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex. What in the world does that mean? Well, increased blood flow to this region of the brain is associated with bad moods. Everything from feeling sad about something, to worrying, to major depression seem to be tied to this brain region. Hiking deactivates it.

Unplugging makes you more creative.

Psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found in their 2012 study that after a four-day-long hike in the wilderness, with no access to technology, participants scored a whopping 50% higher on a test known as RAT, or Remote Associates Test. It’s a simple way of measuring the creative potential in people. A series of three words are given, for instance, “same, tennis, and head.” The test-taker has to find a fourth word that connects the first three. In this case, the answer is “match.” A 50% increase is a huge leap up in performance by research standards. Problem-solving skills like this are thought to originate in the same area of the brain that we also use for selective attention and threat detection, meaning our ability to think creatively is being overwhelmed by the constant stimulus of digital, indoor living.

Hiking boosts your focus.

We mentioned selective attention in the previous section but this is bigger than that. Anyone who has ADHD or has raised a child who has been diagnosed with the disorder can tell you, it’s a daily struggle to maintain grades, work performance, even relationships with friends and family. Medication can help alleviate the symptoms, but often ADHD persists into adulthood and that daily habit of popping stimulants can take its toll on your health and your wallet. Well, what about a good hike? A 2004 study came to the pretty obvious conclusion that getting outdoors and doing something active can reduce the symptoms of ADHD. More than that, it can do so for anyone, regardless of age, health, or other characteristics that can change the effect of medication.

Charge your mind’s batteries with a hike.

Hiking is a pretty solid aerobic exercise that burns around 400-700 calories per hour. This is great on its own, but aerobic exercise also has a really positive effect on your brain: it improves your memory. It’s even being studied as a way to help seniors fight off dementia, because it doesn’t just increase your ability to store information, it also reduces memory loss. Outdoor activity has also been shown to improve grades, so it’s a pretty solid choice all around for juicing your grey matter.

Feel better about yourself, from your sweaty head down to your muddy boots.

According to a 2010 report in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, even getting out into nature for five minutes at a stretch is enough to give your self-esteem a substantial upgrade. Spending the entire day outdoors results in a second jump upwards! Walking near water seemed to have the biggest effect, so when planning your next hike, be sure to seek out a location with some great streams, rivers, or lakes.

Is hiking the solution to all of life’s woes? Probably not. But what science is showing is that it’s actually a pretty solid candidate for making everyone’s lives a lot better, with very little input. If you already hike, good for you! If you’d like to start, find yourself a sturdy, comfortable pair of shoes or boots and head to a website like EveryTrail, which can help you find your way to the nearest nature.

Be sure to SHARE this story with your friends and family!

To find a Wildlands Trust trail visit our trail page

This article was oroginally published April 11, 2016 on Wimp.com

Do you know Pokemon Go??

Well, Wildlands Trust is now part of the hottest new game in the WORLD!!! Pokemon Go!

Our water tower at 675 Long Pond Road in Plymouth is a Pokestop

In simple terms, Pokémon Go uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when you are in the game and make Pokémon “appear” around you (on your phone screen) so you can go and catch them. As you move around, different and more types of Pokémon will appear depending on where you are and what time it is. The idea is to encourage you to travel around the real world to catch Pokémon in the game. (This combination of a game and the real world interacting is known as “augmented reality.”)

To find out more, go to the Pokemon Go website at http://pokemongo.nianticlabs.com/en/

Munroe Farm in Rehoboth Preserved!

Thanks to the generosity of landowners Walt and Sharon Munroe, the Trust recently completed the Munroe Farm Conservation Restriction in Rehoboth.  The Munroe Farm’s 100+ acres includes open fields, carefully managed woodlands, a portion of the “Great Maple Swamp”, a large expanse of wooded wetland, several vernal pools, and scenic views that have changed little over Walt and Sharon’s years as stewards of the farm. 

The Munroe Farm CR is the Trust’s second in Rehoboth, following the 52-acre CR donated by the Bertozzi family in 1999 and situated just a few miles to the northeast.  Both of these CR’s help protect the rural character of North Rehoboth, an area that still retains its bucolic look and feel despite development pressures and Rehoboth’s attractiveness as a bedroom community for nearby Providence. 

Supplied by the Munroe family, the above photo captures Walt at a rare moment of respite from his many activities on the farm, and is a fine example of life imitating art.  The “statue” is a wood-carving of Walt and his trusty canine companion Sadie, created by Munroe family friend Mike Higgins.  It turns out that the statue became something of a local icon even before Walt’s untimely passing last August.  The photo was taken at the request of a customer of the Munroe’s Feed and Grain store, who one day stopped by and requested that Walt pose for a picture with his wooden likeness.  Ever the gentleman, Walt graciously obliged the customer’s request.

From all of us at the Trust, our most sincere thanks to Walt and Sharon Munroe for their unsparing commitment to preserving their seventh-generation farm, and for their patience and good humor throughout the years it took to complete the CR. 

Note:  You can learn more about this project by clicking here.

 

How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck

The Woodchucks of Plymouth, a local, all volunteer, woodworking club comprised mostly of retirees, recently delivered 7 well-crafted benches for the Brockton Audubon Preserve in Brockton and Hoyt Hall Preserve in Marshfield. 

The late Lenny Barbieri and the late Charlie Stasinos founded the club in 1995 to promote the art of woodworking and to exchange ideas and knowledge of the craft. Under the watchful eye of Bill Nemec, approximately 20 members worked on this project for Wildlands Trust.

Funding for this project came from The Department of Conservation and Recreation -  Recreational Trails Grant Program. 

Wildlands Trust thanks the Woodchucks of Plymouth for all of their hard work and their beautiful benches.

 

JUNE 11TH IS NATIONAL GET OUTDOORS DAY

Did you know that this Saturday, June 11, is National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day)?

National Get Outdoors Day was launched on June 14, 2008. Building on the success of More Kids in the Woods and other important efforts to connect Americans – and especially children – with nature and active lifestyles, various groups agreed to lead an inclusive, nationwide effort focusing on a single day when people would be inspired and motivated to get outdoors. GO Day partnered with federal, state and local agencies, key enthusiast organizations and recreation businesses to promote a healthy, fun day of outdoor adventure aimed at reaching first-time visitors to open spaces and connecting children to the outdoors.

GO Day is an outgrowth of the Get Outdoors USA! campaign, which encourages Americans, especially our youth, to seek out healthy, active outdoor lives and embrace our parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters.

What better way to celebrate this day than by taking a hike on one of our great trails on our preserves through out southeastern Massachusetts.  Click on the button below to find one of our trails near you.  Happy Hiking!!!

An Easy Way To Contribute

Did you know . . .  that if you buy things on Amazon that you can contribute to Wildlands Trust through their AmazonSmile program?

What is AmazonSmile you ask??

AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com. The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers.

How does AmazonSmile work?

When first visiting AmazonSmile, customers are prompted to select a charitable organization from almost one million eligible organizations. In order to browse or shop at AmazonSmile, customers must first select a charitable organization (and that would be Wildlands Trust!). For eligible purchases at AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the customer’s selected charitable organization.

And that is it!!  It is so easy to donate to us just by buying things that you already want.  Check it out by clicking on the button below.

and THANK YOU for supporting Wildlands Trust!!

Summer Intern Position's Available at Wildlands Trust

The Wildlands Trust has 2 summer internship opportunities available.  Preference will be given to qualified candidates who are college students majoring in an environmental concentration. 

Position #1-  Natural Resource Monitor
Location:  Plymouth, MA

Hours:     10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  12 weekend days between June 25th and August 21st    
                   (some flexibility for you to pick days)

Duties:    Intern will monitor the public usage of the Halfway Pond Conservation Area in
                   Plymouth collecting data that will become the foundation of a management plan.
                   Training provided.

Skills:      Great attitude! Data collection and observation skills, strong interpersonal skills,
                   good judgement, ability to ride a mountain bike, interest in being outside.

Stipend:  $500 upon completion of project.

Position #2 - Trail Intern
Location: Plymouth, MA

Hours:      16 hours per week, through August

Duties:     Work to ground truth the accuracy of maps of existing trails so we can prepare a
                   new publication on hikes in Plymouth. Training provided.

Skills:       Great attitude! Comfortable hiking in the woods alone, valid driver’s license,
                   self-starter, experience with hand tools, strong computer skills. Ability to use GPS
                   unit desirable.

Stipend:   $500 upon completion of project.

If interested in either of these positions, please send a cover letter along with your resume to admin@wildlandstrust.org. No phone calls please.

 

Wildlands Property Manager Becomes a Keystone Cooperator

Erik Boyer, Property Manager at Wildlands Trust, successfully completed the 3-day Training Workshop for the Keystone Project, held at the Harvard Forest in Petersham, NH this spring.   

In ecology, a keystone species is one whose impacts on its environment are larger and greater than would be expected from one species. The Keystone Project invests education and reference materials in important, keystone people making a large impact at their local level. The training covers subjects such as forest ecology and management, wildlife management, land protection, and community outreach. In exchange for the training and take-home resources, graduates of the program, called Cooperators, agree to return to their communities and volunteer at least 30-hours of their time towards projects that promote forest and wildlife conservation.

The Keystone Project is designed to stimulate forest landowners and community opinion leaders to be advocates of sound forest conservation, and to help inform the land management and conservation decisions of their friends, neighbors, organizations, and communities.  Keystone Cooperators can be very effective in doing this, since they are well-connected community leaders.  Other past Cooperator projects have included permanently conserving their own land, initiating a forest landowner cooperative, promoting management on municipal and conservation lands, writing newspaper articles, hosting educational events, and improving their own properties for wildlife, recreation, and timber.

Keystone Cooperators, Class of 2016, were drawn from all over the state - from Pittsfield to Plymouth, and 23 towns in between.

Keystone Cooperators, Class of 2016, were drawn from all over the state - from Pittsfield to Plymouth, and 23 towns in between.

More than three-fourths of all woodland in Massachusetts is owned by thousands of private families and individuals. Much of this land is at risk of conversion to developed uses. It is important to reach woodland owners as well as communities and land trusts with information on the care of their land. Keystone training is designed to provide Cooperators with skills and information to better engage in this important activity at the local level.

The Keystone Project is organized by the University of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Conservation and UMass Extension, with support from the Harvard Forest, MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the MA DCR Service Forestry Program, and the Leo S. Walsh Foundation.

For more information on forest conservation or Keystone, contact:
Erik Boyer at 774-343-5121 x106 or eboyer@wildlandstrust.org