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

Linking up Local Land Conservationists

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.