Closing Out the Fiscal Year in Style

The last two months of our fiscal year witnessed closings on a set of diverse projects in Duxbury, Bridgewater, Plymouth, and Marshfield.  Landscapes protected by these projects include salt marsh, river frontage, pond frontage, and a property that helps protect Marshfield’s water supply.

 

Nash Saltmarsh Donation, Duxbury

In May, Emily Nash Hunnewell donated three acres of salt marsh along the Bluefish River in Duxbury.  The property is part of a large expanse of salt marsh along the lower Bluefish River, which drains into Duxbury Bay., and sits just across the river from our 25-acre Captain David Cushman Jr. Preserve.

Salt marshes are some of the most productive ecosystems on earth, and among other attributes capture and slowly release storm surges, and provide habitat for a wide range of aquatic and avian species.

Emily made this donation in honor of her late parents John and Polly, who acquired the property in 1972.  Many thanks to Emily and her brother Tim for entrusting this property to our permanent stewardship. 

 

Taunton River WMA Expansion, Bridgewater

On June 12, we acquired 62 acres along the federally designated Wild and Scenic Taunton River in Bridgewater.

This new acquisition includes approximately one half-mile of river frontage, six potential vernal pools, and is partially within Natural Heritage Program-designated Bio Map 2 “Core Habitat” and “Critical Natural Landscape” areas.  It also enhances opportunities for establishing trail linkages, including a proposed Taunton River Trail. 

From a larger landscape perspective, the property directly abuts and is downstream from our adjacent Great River Preserve, which in turn is part of a larger Taunton River Wildlife Management Area.  Between the Mass. Department of Fish and Game and Wildlands Trust, this WMA now encompasses 488 acres on both sides of the river (ed. note—see below for an update on the WMA’s acreage).

The Taunton River Stewardship Council, established in conjunction with the river’s designation by Congress in 2009 as a National Wild and Scenic River, contributed $6000 to the project. 

We held this land for but a few weeks, transferring it to DFG on June 27.  Land trusts will occasionally “pre-acquire” properties for public agency partners in this manner.  We are pleased to partner with DFG on this project, and look forward to future collaborations along the Taunton River and its tributaries. 

Late breaking news:  on June 30, as we were going to press with this acquisitions update, our colleagues at DFG acquired an additional 81 acres on the upstream end of the Taunton River WMA!  This latest acquisition further expands the WMA, which now stands at 570 acres, and enhances the largest contiguous conservation reserve along the upper Taunton River.  

 

Halfway Pond Conservation Area Expansion, Plymouth

 A view of Halfway Pond from he Big Point Trail in the Wildlands Trust's Halfway Pond Conservation Area in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Thanks to the generosity of a private donor, we acquired a vital 10.2-acre parcel on Halfway Pond on June 16.  The subject property includes over 400 feet of frontage on the pond, is entirely wooded upland, and directly abuts and expands our Halfway Pond Conservation Area, which now encompasses most of the land around the pond’s western shore. 

The Halfway Pond Conservation Area is one of our oldest and most cherished protected landscapes, and in conjunction with the adjacent Myles Standish State Forest is part of a 19,000-acre greenbelt corridor—the largest such corridor in Southeastern Massachusetts. 

 

Furnace Brook Watershed CPA CR, Marshfield

As part of celebrating the Summer Solstice, on June 21 we completed a Conservation Restriction on a 7.7-acre parcel in west-central Marshfield, near the intersection of Furnace and Main Streets. 

The Town of Marshfield acquired the property earlier this year with a combination of Community Preservation Act and Drinking Water Supply Grant program funds.  Administered by the Commonwealth’s Department of Environmental Protection, the Drinking Water Supply grant program provides municipalities with funding for the preservation of properties that are significant for water supply and aquifer protection. 

It is difficult to envision a property that more closely aligns with the Drinking Water Supply Grant program’s priorities.  It is entirely within a Mass. DEP-designated Zone II Water Supply Protection Area, is situated approximately 600 feet from a Zone I Wellhead Protection Area, and is within a High-Yield Aquifer Area. 

The property also includes extensive frontage on Furnace Brook, is within Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program-designated rare species habitat, and joins with and expands the town’s 200-acre Furnace Brook Watershed Area, which in turn connects with the 800-acre Carolina Hill Reservation to create the largest contiguous open space assemblage in Marshfield. 

Kudos to Marshfield Open Space Chair Karen O’Donnell for her tireless efforts toward qualifying for the Drinking Water Supply Grant, and ensuring that the CR was completed well before the June 30 deadline. 

Dragonfly Species Sighting Sets New County Record!

Great River Preserve in Bridgewater has been the site of our Butterflies and Dragonflies walk for the past three years. Program leader Nick Block, Assistant Professor of Biology at Stonehill College, is not only excellent at spotting and catching dragonflies in an instant, but is a whiz at instant identification of insects, birds, amphibians, and more. Towards the end of our program on Sunday, June 25th, he spotted this Great Blue Skimmer, a new county record for Plymouth County! This southern species has likely found its way further north due to changing climate. 

Great Blue Skimmer on the Taunton River, Great River Preserve, Bridgewater

Great Blue Skimmer on the Taunton River, Great River Preserve, Bridgewater

Other notable moments from the program included watching a female Monarch lay eggs on a trail-side milkweed, getting up close and personal with multiple dragonfly and damselfly species, and a Fowler's Toad spotting! 

A damselfly, caught in Nick Block's insect net, Great River Preserve, Bridgewater

A damselfly, caught in Nick Block's insect net, Great River Preserve, Bridgewater

Nick is a fantastic teacher - knowledgeable, friendly, skillful, and has been graciously willing to lead this program year after year. Even if you've never considered these creatures to be of specific interest to you, we recommend checking this program out next spring! 

Thanks, Nick! See you next year!

Thanks, Nick! See you next year!

Long Distance Hiking in Plymouth? You bet...

By Director of Land Protection, Scott MacFaden

Over the past two Sundays, we had the privilege of embarking upon a series of hikes we have come to call the ‘Big Ramble”.  Led by the “Trail Guy” and ace navigator Malcolm MacGregor, we (a group of eleven on June 4, and a group of ten on June 11) covered just about 20 miles in all, traversing through a wide range of landscapes that reinforced how much our region has to offer to the ambitious hiker.   

Malcolm and his band of stalwart hikers, including some folks affiliated with the Friends of Myles Standish, have been exploring the wilds of our local state forest and many other places in and around Plymouth for years.  More recently, they have graciously chosen to share their specialized landscape knowledge with Wildlands Trust. 

For most of our history, Wildlands has sponsored what might be more accurately termed walks than hikes—leisurely paced outings that typically cover no more than four miles.  While these walks appeal to many of our members and will always remain an integral part of our programming offerings, a land acquisition we closed on last December inspired us to consider sponsoring more ambitious outings.

The land acquisition in question was the 275-acre Luigi and Teotista Cortelli Preserve on Great South Pond in Plymouth.  Donated by Gerald and Maureen Sheehan, this outstanding property includes multiple rare species habitats, extensive frontage on Great South Pond, and an intriguing landscape connection:  it directly abuts the Plymouth Town Forest to the north and Myles Standish State Forest to the south. 

Poring over maps with Malcolm, it became apparent to us that our new preserve was the missing link in the most expansive corridor of contiguous open space in southeastern Massachusetts: an almost 19,000-acre greenbelt, ranging from the Plymouth Town Forest through Myles Standish and southerly to the Mass. Division of Fish and Game’s recently established Maple Springs Wildlife Management Area in Wareham. 

With this exciting realization in mind, we thought it an opportune time to formally sponsor lengthier, more ambitious and demanding hikes like the Big Ramble. 

As the accompanying photos attest, we encountered many interesting features along the Ramble route, including the sweeping vistas afforded by Pinnacle Hill (the highest location in all of Plymouth outside of the geographic Pine Hills), and the famed “Frogfoot” Reservoir. 

Traversing through the interior of Myles Standish State Forest was a particular pleasure.  The Forest holds many attractions that elude the typical visitor, including the striking landscape of Cherry Pond Valley (the namesake pond is the headwaters of the Wankinco River).   The valley is a steep-sided landscape with comparatively few trees that likely owes its appearance to a forest fire at some point in the relatively recent past.  Most of the state forest’s terrain is comprised of so-called Pine Barrens, a woodland type dominated by Pitch Pine and Scrub Oak and adapted to frequent fires. 

For those who want to undertake their own version of the Big Ramble:  unless you are adept at off-trail navigation and route finding, you’ll have to be patient.  Much of the Big Ramble’s route took us over terrain that doesn’t presently include marked and/or easily followed trails.   Our longer-term vision is to collaborate with the landowners along the Big Ramble route, most particularly DCR, DFG, and the Town of Plymouth, to formalize the routes that Malcolm and his merry band of hikers know so well.  While we don’t yet have a specific timetable for implementing this vision, we are enthused about the possibilities for expanding the range of hiking opportunities in our extended backyard.   

In the interim, we are planning more ambitious guided hikes—so stay tuned! 

Malcolm introduces us to Pinnacle Hill (Part I)

Malcolm introduces us to Pinnacle Hill (Part I)

Outlook toward Great South Pond (Part I)

Outlook toward Great South Pond (Part I)

Cherry Pond - the headwaters of the Wankinco River (Part I)

Cherry Pond - the headwaters of the Wankinco River (Part I)

Cherry Pond Valley (Part I)

Cherry Pond Valley (Part I)

A leisurely lunch in the shadows of the cathedral pines (Part I)

A leisurely lunch in the shadows of the cathedral pines (Part I)

Traversing through open woodland (Part II)

Traversing through open woodland (Part II)

The Part II Crew (minus Scott) at Frogfoot Reservoir

The Part II Crew (minus Scott) at Frogfoot Reservoir

"The Rhododendron Not Taken" (apologie to Mr. Frost)

"The Rhododendron Not Taken" (apologie to Mr. Frost)

A respite at the picnic grounds on Maple Springs Reservoir (Part II)

A respite at the picnic grounds on Maple Springs Reservoir (Part II)

Welcome 2017 Seasonal Staff

We would like to welcome the 2017 seasonal staff on board for the summer! Each summer, Wildlands Trust hires seasonal employees to help out with the stewardship of our properties, administrative tasks, education, events, and more. The seasonal staff members are often college students who are home for the summer, and many have been or will be involved with Wildlands year after year. We’re excited to have these four fantastic employees here this year!

From the Left: Hugh Grey, Maura Coughlin, Ryan Duty, and Hunter Wiese

From the Left: Hugh Grey, Maura Coughlin, Ryan Duty, and Hunter Wiese

Maura Coughlin is a rising sophomore at Simmons College studying Nursing and French. She’s passionate about her studies but also shows her love for the environment through spending time outdoors hiking, swimming, and slack-lining. Maura was a Green Team member last summer. Now in college, she returns as the Education and Stewardship Assistant at Wildlands Trust, helping out with Green Team and more!

Ryan Duty joins us for his second summer as a Seasonal Land Steward, helping Property Manager Erik Boyer out with stewardship projects at various Wildlands Trust properties. A rising sophomore at UMass Amherst, Ryan studies Clinical Psychology. He loves working outdoors, exploring new places and meeting new people!

This is Hugh Grey’s first summer working for Wildlands Trust as a Seasonal Land Steward. Hugh is going into his sophomore year at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont majoring in Environmental Studies and Music. He has spent all of his life outdoors whether it be skiing, hiking, sailing or playing football. Hugh is looking forward to the rest of the summer and fun projects to come!

Hunter Wiese is a rising sophomore at the University of California Berkeley studying Physics. He’s been volunteering and working for the Wildlands Trust since his sophomore year in high school, taking part in 2015 Summer Green Team and other projects. This summer Hunter is helping to create and organize Wildlands Trust's new online database before heading back to California.

Deer Ticks: One Bite Can Change Your Life

On Tuesday, May 23 Entomologist Larry Dapsis came to the Wildlands Trust Community Conservation Barn for a special presentation about ticks and tick-borne illnesses. Dapsis is the Entomologist for Barnstable County and Deer Tick Project Coordinator for Cape Cod Cooperative Extension. He works both to study tick populations and diseases and to educate the public. An engaged crowd of nearly 30 volunteers, members, and nonmembers made for an interactive program and lively discussion. If you missed it, or just want to review the information, you can download the PDF below.

Here at Wildlands Trust, we want to help inform and educate everyone who loves to get outside to enjoy nature in order to best protect themselves. Every time we're out on the trails with a group, without fail someone has a personal story about how tick-borne illnesses have effected their lives. Living in an area  where the rate of tick-borne illness is among the highest in the country, this information from Larry Dapsis is invaluable. We look forward to having him at Wildlands again next year! 

Brockton Envirothon Team Storms Competition

On May 18, 2017, the Brockton High School / Wildlands Trust Envirothon Team competed at their third consecutive Massachusetts Envirothon Competition. Teams from across the state spent the morning at Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farms taking field tests in Forests, Wildlife, Soil, and Water, presenting their community research projects, and volunteering with the Student Conservation Association. Our team of ten dedicated students placed 6th overall in the state, took the 3rd place award for their Current Issue Presentation, and brought home the Community Research and Community Action Awards.

The Brockton team tests their knowledge at the Forests field test, one of four tests at the Massachusetts Envirothon competition.

The Brockton team tests their knowledge at the Forests field test, one of four tests at the Massachusetts Envirothon competition.

Each year, teams are asked to research a new current issue topic as it effects their community. This year’s topic was Agricultural Soil and Water Conservation. Since the fall, our students have been out in the community researching this topic and talking with the experts. They’ve met with the city’s water commissioner, farmers, AmeriCorps members, the Brockton city planner, soil scientists, and more. As their research developed, the team identified the need to help Brockton’s Promise assess the conditions of community gardens around the city. On their own time after school and on weekends, team members visited community gardens to collect soil samples for testing at the UMass Soil Lab, assess the availability of water, and assess the overall potential for community gardening at each site. They even came up with a unique rainwater collection trough design that uses fences rather than gutters.

The Brockton team presents their Current Issue Research to a panel of judges, taking 3rd place in this category at the 2017 Massachusetts Envirothon Competition.

The Brockton team presents their Current Issue Research to a panel of judges, taking 3rd place in this category at the 2017 Massachusetts Envirothon Competition.

At the competition, the team blew the judges away as they presented their research and action project. Comments from judge score sheets include:

“Great presentation – wonderful work.” 
“Excellent explanation of the issue.” 
“An exciting and good presentation. Thank you for your drive and your dedication." 
“Q&A at the end was excellent!”
“Good for people and the environment. Awesome!

This and other Brockton Envirothon projects truly have an impact on the community as whole and on the lives of the students who spend their time getting involved with environmental issues in their city. Everyone at Wildlands Trust is extremely proud of this team’s efforts and achievements this year! We can’t wait to get back to it in the fall for another great Envirothon year!

After their presentation, the team is interviewed for the Community Research and Community Action Awards.

After their presentation, the team is interviewed for the Community Research and Community Action Awards.

Special thanks are due to Biology teacher and coach Joyce Voorhis, who has spearheaded the Envirothon efforts in partnership with Wildlands Trust since 2015. Also thank you to Jack Jezard, SEMPBA’s MassLIFT AmeriCorps member who helped coach the team this year, and to all of the wonderful professionals who helped our students this year!

Job Announcement: Community Stewardship Program Manager

Wildlands Trust is looking to hire a Manager for its Community Stewardship Program (CSP). The CSP provides reliable and affordable on-the-ground project planning and land stewardship support for towns, private land owners, and non-profits who own conservation lands. The appropriate candidate will have familiarity and preferably direct experience in many of the services provided by CSP:

  • Property Management Plans
  • Trail Design and Construction
  • Trail Maintenance
  • Conservation Area Amenity Planning and Construction (kiosks, boardwalks, benches, signage, parking areas)
  • Custom Trail Map Design
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Natural Resource and Wildlife Inventories
  • Baseline Documentation Reports
  • Easement Monitoring
  • Habitat Restoration Planning
  • Invasive Species Management
  • Permitting (Con Com and NHESP)

As a department of one, you will be responsible for doing it all: from receiving project ideas, toacquiring contracts to planning for executing the work on the ground. Coordination/management of volunteers and/or seasonal stewardship staff will be required. Experience with power tools, ability to lift 80 lbs and hike 2 miles/day and have a valid driver’s license is essential. The position requires a self-starter with excellent people skills and 3 years of experience utilizing Geographic Information Systems (ArcGIS). This is a mid-level management job and requires a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Management or a related field.

Based in Plymouth, the Wildlands Trust works throughout southeastern Massachusetts to conserve and permanently protect native habitats, farmland, and lands of high ecologic and scenic value that serve to keep our communities healthy and our residents connected to the natural world. The selected candidate will be joining a talented and collegial staff working from our new headquarters at Davis Douglas Farm in Plymouth, MA.

Please send cover letter and resume to admin@wildlandstrust.org, indicate CSP Manager in the subject line.

Ray Brown's "Talkin' Birds" Broadcasts Live from Wildlands Trust

On the last day of April, Ray Brown arrived at the Wildlands Trust Community Conservation Barn prepared to remotely broadcast his Sunday morning radio show, Ray Brown’s "Talkin’ Birds". Normally broadcast from local Marshfield station 95.9 WATD on Sundays at 9:30 am, "Talkin’ Birds" is also broadcast across New England, New York, and Maryland, is available on podcast and live stream services.

A live audience enjoyed brunch as they listened to and participated in the show; cheering on Ray, his on-air guest Trevor Lloyd-Evans, and various call-in guests to the show. Trevor joined us from Manomet, where he leads the Landbird Conservation Program. The two longtime friends talked about the effects of climate change on bird populations, how bird behavior can be an indicator of climate change, and more.

From the left: Debbie Bleacher, Ray Brown, and Trevor Lloyd-Evans broadcasting live on Sunday, April 30 from Wildlands Trust.

From the left: Debbie Bleacher, Ray Brown, and Trevor Lloyd-Evans broadcasting live on Sunday, April 30 from Wildlands Trust.

After the live show, special guests Wayne Petersen of Mass Audubon, Brian Harrington formerly of Manomet, and Trevor Lloyd-Evans hosted an off-air panel discussion about this important topic, touching on the challenges that land birds, shore birds, and sea birds face due to accelerated climate change.  The discussion was dynamic and engaging, allowing the audience to participate and still leaving much to be seen as these charismatic animals adapt, “or not” as Trevor says, to a rapidly changing planet.

After the show, Wayne Petersen, Brian Harrington, and Trevor Lloyd-Evans hosted a panel discussion titled "Climate Change: Listen To What The Birds Are Telling Us".

After the show, Wayne Petersen, Brian Harrington, and Trevor Lloyd-Evans hosted a panel discussion titled "Climate Change: Listen To What The Birds Are Telling Us".

The morning was truly a delight, and we’d like to thank our special guests Ray Brown, Trevor Lloyd-Evans, Wayne Petersen, and Brian Harrington, the folks at 95.9 WATD, and caterer Faith Flemming for making the show a success and for the importnat work they do in our community.

Didn’t catch us on Sunday? You can listen to the show right here on the Talkin’ Birds website: http://www.talkinbirds.com/archive/

Trust Expands Kingston Preserve with New Acquisition

Courtesy of the Frey family, Wildlands Trust’s Indian Hill Preserve in Kingston has almost doubled in size. On April 21, 2017, Daune and Bill Frey donated a 4.6-acre parcel off of Indian Pond Road in south Kingston. 

The donated parcel consists of scenic upland woods with steep slopes, is within multiple areas identified as important wildlife habitat by the Commonwealth’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, and is also significant for water supply protection.  It is located within a Zone II Wellhead Protection Area, and helps protect the Plymouth-Carver sole source aquifer, a vital regional resource that provides drinking water for thousands of area residents. 

The donation expands and complements the adjacent Indian Hill Preserve, donated by Mary Hathaway in 2003. 

Thank you to the Freys for their generous donation! 

Massasoit Students Canvas for Brockton Audubon

On a beautiful Monday afternoon in April, Massasoit Community College Honor Students led by professor Susan Martelli met up with Wildlands Trust staff, Erik Boyer and Ryan Krapp, to canvas the neighborhoods surrounding the new and improved trail system at Brockton Audubon Preserve. 

Massasoit students, professor Susan Martelli, and Wildlands Trust Property Manager Erik Boyer at the 20 ft. boulder, or "glacial erratic", at Brockton Audubon Preserve. 

Massasoit students, professor Susan Martelli, and Wildlands Trust Property Manager Erik Boyer at the 20 ft. boulder, or "glacial erratic", at Brockton Audubon Preserve. 

The goal of the day was to hand out over 100 invitations to come enjoy the new trails located in the backyards of Brockton residents. There are now over 1.5-miles of trails with two new boardwalks, a large kiosk at the Pleasant St. parking lot, and five interpretive trail-side signs along the way. If you haven’t been to Brockton Audubon Preserve in a while you better stop by to check it out! Get the map here http://wildlandstrust.org/trail-brockton.

Thanks Massasoit Community College honor students for your volunteerism and enthusiasm for the work we're doing in Brockton!

One of the new boardwalk trails at Brockton Audubon Preserve.

One of the new boardwalk trails at Brockton Audubon Preserve.

Meet Roxey Lay - Our New Membership Coordinator

We’re thrilled to welcome our newest staff member to the Wildlands Trust team! Roxey Lay, a New Hampshire native and lifelong outdoors woman, took on the role of Membership Coordinator in March of 2017. Roxey joins us most recently from Lasell College, where she not only earned her Master of Science in Communication, but has spent the past four years working in the Plant Operations and Sustainability department, where she helped to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly campus.

Roxey is already hard at work growing our membership base, developing new member benefits, and planning events for our dedicated members. As a nonprofit, the support of our members allows us to protect more land in southeastern Massachusetts, care for our conservation lands, and provide more educational and recreational opportunities for the residents of southeastern MA.

Please contact Roxey with any membership questions that you may have – or if you’re not a member you can become one here. You can also catch her at the upcoming Members Brunch with Ray Brown on April 30!

roxey and john.jpg

 

Congratulations, Roxey! We can't wait to see what great things you'll bring to Wildlands Trust.

Plymouth Town Meeting Approves Two Open Space Acquisitions

At this past Saturday’s Spring Annual Town Meeting, Plymouth Town Meeting members approved two open space acquisitions funded entirely or in part by Community Preservation Act funds. 

Both of these acquisitions help protect one of Plymouth’s most vital natural resources, the Plymouth-Carver Sole Source Aquifer.  The pollution-sensitive aquifer encompasses 199 square miles, and in addition to Plymouth serves seven other communities with drinking water. 

One project will protect 43 acres of diverse upland, wetland, and riparian habitat along the Eel River in Chiltonville.  This property is closely proximate to two Wildlands Trust preserves, including the 58-acre Eel River Fields property, and is one of the largest remaining unprotected parcels along the lower Eel River corridor.  It includes rare species habitat and 1,300 feet of river frontage. 

The Town has qualified for Commonwealth of Massachusetts “LAND” Grant Program funding that will help defray the cost of acquiring the property.  The LAND Grant Program provides partial funding for open space acquisition projects to qualifying municipalities, and allows them to make more efficient use of local resources, particularly Community Preservation Act funds.   

The second project will protect 10.2 acres of wooded upland near the terminus of Russell Mills Road.  This property connects with town-owned parcels directly abutting to the west and east, thereby creating an expanded area of contiguous open space.

In keeping with our longstanding partnership with the Town, and to ensure compliance with Community Preservation Act requirements, Wildlands Trust will hold permanent Conservation Restrictions on both properties. 

These projects are the latest in a long series of open space acquisitions enabled by the Community Preservation Act in Plymouth, and provide further affirmation of how the CPA continues to benefit town residents.  Congratulations to the Community Preservation Committee and the Town’s Environmental Management staff for advancing these outstanding land preservation projects! 

Wildlands Trailrunners

You may have noticed a ragtag pack of fleet footed harriers on Saturday mornings on Morgan Rd. and various locations around Halfway Pond.  Last October Wildlands Trust started hosting monthly trail runs from Douglas-Davis Farm in an effort to connect with the local running community.  These runs, which started smaller in the first few months, are now drawing over twenty runners, even during some of the rougher stretches of weather that we had this past February.  

Erik Boyer, Wildlands Trust Property Manager, leads trail runs at Halfway Pond every month.

Erik Boyer, Wildlands Trust Property Manager, leads trail runs at Halfway Pond every month.

The group is mostly made up of runners from Mayflower Runners, a running club based out of Plymouth, and Running Around Plymouth, a Facebook page devoted to providing runners an outlet to connect with others in the local running community.  On any given month, we have groups of runners that span across a range of skill ability levels joining us.  Our typical 6 mile route traverses the Halfway Pond loop, which utilizes parts of our Halfway Pond Conservation Area and Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife trails, but there is also a 3 mile option available.

Trailrunners gather at Davis-Douglas Farm on a chilly Saturday morning in January.

Trailrunners gather at Davis-Douglas Farm on a chilly Saturday morning in January.

"It’s been great to see friendships develop every week and familiar faces each run," says Erik Boyer, the Wildlands Trust Property Manager who leads these monthly trail runs. As we approach the beginning of spring and some more welcoming weather, it’s a good time to lace up those shoes and get out of the trails! Trail runs and other outdoor programs are posted regularly on our events page.

If you’re ever around Douglas-Davis Farm during the week feel free to stop in and learn about some of the nearby trails that you can access right from our office.  We hope to be starting a weeknight run with warmer weather and more daylight this spring so stay tuned!

Summer Green Team 2017

We’re looking for middle and high school aged students to apply for Green Team this summer. Green Team Crewmembers get a summer experience like no other! This fun, hands-on, interactive opportunity offers a wide variety of activities that will help students to better understand conservation and agricultural lands, wildlife, and water resources. Have fun outdoors this summer while acquiring new skills and knowledge!

Green Team 2015 Crewmembers learn about shell fish propagation in Plymouth Harbor

Green Team 2015 Crewmembers learn about shell fish propagation in Plymouth Harbor

Students ages 12 – 14 are welcome to apply to Green Team I, scheduled for July 11 – 13, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9:00 am – 1:30 pm. Green Team I will focus on trail maintenance, organic agriculture, and wildlife conservation. Crewmembers will be trained to safely use and handle hand tools to complete projects. A certificate is earned upon completion.

Students ages 15 – 18 are welcome to apply to Green Team II, scheduled for July 18 – 27, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm. Green Team II will focus on trail building and maintenance, carpentry, organic agriculture, wildlife conservation, water quality monitoring, and even camping skills. Crewmembers will be trained to safely use and handle hand tools and certain power tools to complete projects. Green Team II is complete with an overnight campout to practice essential camping skills, experience a night hike, and more! A certificate and small stipend are earned upon completion.

Green Team 2016 Crewmembers after a day of harvesting a processing garlic at Bay End Farm

Green Team 2016 Crewmembers after a day of harvesting a processing garlic at Bay End Farm

Come talk to us about Green Team at the upcoming Healthy Plymouth Fairs:                                       Plymouth North High School - March 2, 2017, 2:00 - 4:00 pm                                                         Plymouth South High School - March 14, 2017, 2:00 - 4:00 pm http://www.healthyplymouth.org/youth-engagement/healthy-plymouth-opportunities-program

 

Find out more about Green Team and apply:

Local Landowners Donate 273 Acres on Great South Pond, Plymouth

We are pleased to announce today that Wildlands Trust has received a donation of 273 acres of land in Plymouth, the largest single land acquisition for Wildlands Trust in our 44 year history. This magnificent property contains about one mile of frontage on Great South Pond, a unique Coastal Plain Pond.  Jerry and Maureen Sheehan donated the Property to Wildlands Trust so that this fragile habitat remain protected and cared for in perpetuity. 

“This area has held a special meaning for generations of our family, and many other families in the area. We acquired various parcels of this land over 50 years from several local landowners who used the land for deer and duck hunting, fishing and wildlife observation. We are pleased the land will be preserved for future generations and that the extraordinary biodiversity there will be able to thrive. Mrs. Sheehan and I are proud to give back to our community by conserving a special part of the Town’s landscape and heritage,” said Jerry Sheehan.

View of Great South Pond along the newly acquired pond frontage.

View of Great South Pond along the newly acquired pond frontage.

The property is a part of a globally rare ecosystem known as the Pine Barrens and is home to several types of rare plants and animals.  The land is in the proposed “Great Thicket” National Wildlife Refuge, a project of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intended to help address wildlife decline in the Northeast U.S.

The property directly abuts other significant conservation lands in the area, including Wildlands' 23-acre Domero Cortelli Preserve, acquired with the support of the Sheehan Family Foundation in the early 2000’s, the Plymouth Town Forest, and the Myles Standish State Forest. 

Together, these conservation lands total 15,000 acres of greenspace -- an area that is unequaled in Southeastern Massachusetts for its scale, concentrations of rare species, and opportunities for passive recreation.

The protected land contains a wonderfully diverse mosaic of Pine-Scrub Oak and Pine Oak woodlands, coastal plain pond habitat, diverse topography, and retired cranberry bogs. It serves as a buffer zone around Great South Pond, helping to preserve water quality.  It will also help protect the federally designated Plymouth-Carver Sole Source Aquifer, a 199-square mile aquifer serving eight towns that is highly vulnerable to pollution. In addition to donating the land, Mr. and Mrs. Sheehan established a stewardship endowment at Wildlands Trust to fund the oversight and protection of the property.

“On behalf of our Board of Directors, staff, and members, we wish to express our deepest gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Sheehan for entrusting this unique property to Wildlands Trust," said Karen Grey, the Trust’s Executive Director. “The Great South Pond property is the largest parcel that Wildlands Trust has obtained in our 44-year history, but even more importantly, it is one of the most ecologically significant in the region. It provides habitat for multiple rare species, including several globally rare species, and helps to protect Great South Pond’s water quality.  We look forward to continuing the Sheehans’ exemplary stewardship of this important piece of land.”

“The Great South Pond land donation is the latest in a long-running series of conservation projects the Sheehan family has enabled," said Grey.  “Without their consistent support for the conservation work that we and others do, Southeastern Massachusetts would be a much lesser place - less green, less healthy, and with a diminished quality of life.”     

Wildlands Trust intends to establish public access over a trail corridor linking the Plymouth Town Forest with Myles Standish State Forest. 

Great South Pond, Plymouth

Great South Pond, Plymouth

Creating a Community

By Karen Grey, President

Drone footage of Davis-Douglas Farm at sunrise on New Year's Eve Day, 2016

On December 31st, the Trust hosted another well-attended community event, this being the third to draw over 100 people since we opened the Community Conservation Barn doors in November. In six weeks, we have hosted over 550 people for programs ranging from hikes and wreath making to community potluck dinners and open space meetings.

At dawn on New Year’s Eve Day, a hearty group gathered at the behest of Plymouth journalist, Frank Mand, to celebrate the beauty of Plymouth in the last sunrise of the year. It was also an opportunity for Mand to introduce his ambitious “Walking Home,” project in which he will spend a year trekking from California back to Plymouth. Fair to say, this was predominately a Fans of Frank affair, but the gathering, held at our new Community Conservation Barn, also underscored our vision of providing a venue for building community through environmental awareness.

The diversity and creativity of our programming is allowing us to reach many new people. We look forward to seeing you soon to introduce you to the Wildlands Trust and our beloved Davis-Douglas Farm.

For upcoming programs, go to "What's Happening", then "Events", or wildlandstrust.org/calendar.

 

Quest for Cotton Pond Trail

By Erik Boyer, Property Manager

About a year and a half ago while running errands after work, a cashier saw my Wildlands Trust logo and started talking about a preserve that he used to love hiking at when he lived on Ship Pond Rd.  He described a walk that consisted of some hilly topography and that concluded at a little kettle pond.  He hadn’t been there since moving to the Cape a couple of years earlier, but asked me how that property was looking currently. 

At that point I had only worked with Wildlands for a couple of months and had yet to visit many of our properties.  However, the passion and detail with which he described the property led me to pin down the Emery East Preserve, the smaller of our two Emery Preserves and one of the Trust’s first pieces of conservation land. 

I spent the next day bushwhacking through a thicket of huckleberry and green briar to eventually make my way to Cotton Pond, a beautiful little kettle pond at the end of the overgrown trail. Two other features stood out: a very distinctive steep hill about half way through the hike – the type of hill that, during my days of running cross country, would have been honored a name, and an old sand pit that had become the dumping grounds for an assortment of old debris ranging from old computers, bed frames, and piles of misshapen scrap metal.  I flagged out the old trail route and then didn’t visit the property for a while.

That is, until this past summer of 2016. On the hottest, most humid week of August, a group from the Sierra Club arrived at Wildlands Trust for a working vacation. This presented the perfect opportunity to reestablish the trail at Emery East Preserve. During this week, twenty plus volunteers re-blazed the old footpath, added more colorful trail markers, and removed a large portion of the debris that existed on site. To conclude this week of hard work, the trail was officially re-opened, reaching all the way from Ship Pond Rd. to Cotton Pond.

Sierra Club volunteers blaze a trail in the hot August heat!

Sierra Club volunteers blaze a trail in the hot August heat!

However, the work wasn’t quite finished. We spent two Trailblazer Saturdays, one in September and one in December, with dedicated volunteers helping to install natural steps and a rope hand rail on the steep portion of the hill. Now hikers will be aided by foot and hand holds on the return trip from the pond, as well as by a bench built by the Sierra Club work group awaiting at the peak of the hill.

September Trailblazers put in natural stairs on the steep hill. 

September Trailblazers put in natural stairs on the steep hill. 

December Trailblazers get the job finished!

December Trailblazers get the job finished!

Round trip the trail is about 1.25 miles in length, but the steep hill makes one feel as though they’ve walked about 4 miles on level grade.  Overall our Cotton Pond Trail at Emery East Preserve offers a more challenging walk then some of our other trails in Plymouth and it could not have been done without the help of the volunteers from Sierra Club and our Trailblazer team!

To hike the Cotton Pond Trail, park at the small trail head on the north side of Ship Pond Rd., east of Secretariat Drive. Trail map available here.

Land Trusts - Aren't They All The Same? (Well, yes and no)

By Scott MacFaden, Director of Land Protection

Since the end of World War II, America’s corporations have spent millions, probably billions, on advertising, in part to promote product differentiation.  While it is unlikely that most land trusts will ever have the benefit of large advertising budgets, we at Wildlands Trust have come to learn that a little product differentiation in our profession is not a bad thing.   

Although it is evident to those of us immersed in the field, it can be difficult to discern the differences between land trusts. 

This confusion can also extend into day-to-day conversations and social interactions.  From time to time, within various social settings this correspondent has explained what type of organization I work for, only to have my discussion partner reply:  “Oh wait—you work for, what is it, The Nature Company?” (sic).   My task then is to politely attempt an explanation in nonprofit product differentiation, and to note that while we have the utmost respect and admiration for our colleagues from The Nature Conservancy, and have collaborated with them on many projects of mutual interest, our organizations are very much separate and distinct entities. 

So, while we all more or less are working toward achieving the same outcomes, the land trust community is not a monolithic entity, nor a single nonprofit superorganism.  Indeed, the most obvious point of differentiation between land trusts is one of scale.  For example:

  • The Nature Conservancy has chapters in most states but also works globally. 

  • New England Forestry Foundation and the Northeast Wilderness Trust work within a multi-state region and service much of New England. 

  •  The Trustees of Reservations and the Massachusetts Audubon Society work only within the state of Massachusetts.

  • Wildlands Trust (our favorite) is a regional land trust. Our present coverage area encompasses parts of four counties in Massachusetts—Plymouth, Bristol, Norfolk, and Barnstable.

  • There are multiple regional land trusts across our state—a good example is the Essex County Greenbelt Association, which serves the northeastern part of the state and provided the model for Wildlands Trust’s founders back in the early 1970’s. 

  • The smallest land trusts typically serve a single community, and in most cases are entirely dependent on volunteers.  Examples of single-community land trusts in the Trust’s coverage area include the Rochester Land Trust and the Hingham Land Trust.

At whatever scale a land trust operates at, none of us would even exist, let alone thrive, without the generosity of donors big and small.  So, a hearty thank you to all those who support our profession, and in particular those who make possible our work here at Wildlands Trust

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