New Homes to Attract Winged Residents at Union Point

  Residents of Fairing Way work together to construct a bluebird box.

Residents of Fairing Way work together to construct a bluebird box.

On August 13, Wildlands’ Community Stewardship Coordinator, Conor Michaud, began the much anticipated nesting bird box project at Union Point, meant to engage the community in a project benefiting both the residents and local bird population. Union Point has modeled itself as a rising smart city, offering their residents a comfortable modern community to eventually be complete with retail shops, restaurants and sporting arenas. One of the most attractive aspects of this modern dream world is the 1,000 acres of open space, comprising ponds, wetlands, forests and open fields. Over the last two years, Wildlands has been working with Union Point in Weymouth, Rockland and Abington to help manage the meandering trail system on the southern section of the former naval air base. The various habitats within this bountiful trail system provide the perfect opportunity to attract more of the beautiful but flighty, and in many cases dwindling, inhabitants of these ecosystems. We are talking, of course, about the birds. Throughout September, Conor will be working with residents of Union Point’s Fairing Way, a community built around healthy and active retirement living, to complete 20 nesting bird boxes designed to attract several different bird species including the northern flicker, eastern screech owl and great crested flycatcher. When early spring arrives, Conor will head out to the trails and install each box in the ideal location and monitor the boxes throughout the season. Thanks to this partnership between Union Point, Wildlands Trust and Fairing Way, we can soon hope to see the populations of several declining bird species rise throughout these popular South Shore towns.

If you would like to learn more about Wildlands Trust’s Community Stewardship Program, please contact Conor Michaud at cmichaud@wildlandstrust.org

  Conor Michaud (far left) and the residents of Fairing Way show off three of the bird boxes they built: (from left to right) a bluebird box, a norther flicker box and an eastern screech owl box.

Conor Michaud (far left) and the residents of Fairing Way show off three of the bird boxes they built: (from left to right) a bluebird box, a norther flicker box and an eastern screech owl box.

Hiker Preparedness Guide

By Outreach and Education Manager Rachel Calderara

Here at Wildlands Trust, we lead many hikes throughout Southeastern Massachusetts. With our second OkTRAILberfest on the horizon offering hikes of up to 11 miles, we want to share our guide for hiker preparedness with you!

Hiking is a great way to engage with nature - the best way in this writer's opinion. It is good for the mind and body, and helps build a sense of adventure and independence. But, the activity does come with some inherent risks like dehydration, injury, and exposure. Being prepared with suitable clothing and gear is the best way to keep yourself safe so enjoy your time on the trail.

Must Haves:

  • Appropriate Footwear. Not only is it important to take care of your feet to keep them from hurting, but it's important to support your foundation! If you're going to be hiking through strenuous terrain with steep inclines or rocky areas, we definitely recommend sturdy boots with good ankle support. Sneakers are okay for flat, short hikes. For guided hikes with Wildlands Trust, we require at least sneakers and prefer boots, and never accept flip flops!
  • Water. Have you ever felt a headache coming on while hiking? You're probably experiencing the first signs of dehydration. Dehydration can lead to disorientation, nausea, dizziness, heat stroke, and/or hypothermia. Departing for your hike without carrying water is just a bad idea. We recommend carrying more than you think you'll need - plus, the extra weight in your pack will give you a better workout!
  • Food. Keeping your energy level high is important for an enjoyable hike. Trail snacks with protein, sugar, and salt are great ways to keep your energy and electrolytes up! On especially hot days, drinking water isn't enough and you'll need to add some salt and sugar to your diet to avoid dehydration - of course, don't overdo it!
  • Rain Shell. We find that people are reluctant to carry a rain shell or poncho, but it can save you from hypothermia and is a small, light-weight item in your pack. The weather in New England is unpredictable, and it rains all year long. Keeping yourself and your clothes dry in a surprise rain storm is essential for your well being. 
  • Sun Protection. The importance of clothing or sunscreen that will keep your skin protected from UV rays can never be understated.
  • First Aid Kit. A well-stocked first aid kit should live in your pack, always ready when you need it. If you're going on a guided hike with Wildlands Trust, your leader will have a kit as well!

We Recommend:

  • Long Pants. Even in the heat of summer, lightweight pants can help protect you from ticks, poison ivy, scrapes and scratches, mosquitoes, and the sun!
  • Hats/Sunglasses. Speaking of sun protection, keeping your face shaded and retinas protected form UV rays will help you stay cool and remain healthy in the long run. 
  • Insect Repellent. New England has one of the highest rates of Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Repellent can help make you hard to detect by ticks, mosquito, and other biting insects.
  • Flashlight. Getting lost can happen, even to the most experienced hikers. If you find yourself out past dark by accident, a flashlight is a useful tool and lightweight in the pack.
  • Navigation: maps, compass, and/or GPS. Trail maps for Wildlands Trust properties are available on our website for free. We don't recommend heading down a trail without a map!
  • Matches. Lighters can die, but matches kept in a waterproof case will go the distance. Keep a small container of strike-anywhere matches in your pack if you need to light a fire in a pinch.
  • Shelter. Carrying an emergency blanket, which folds up to about the size of a smart phone, can keep you warm in situations of unplanned overnight excursions or hypothermia. 

Our goal at Wildlands Trust is to get your outside and enjoying nature, and to keep you safe while doing so. Please know that if you show up unprepared for a guided hike, you may be turned away for your own safety and the safety of the group. 

For more information on how to be prepared, we recommend checking out REI's day hiking checklist and/or ten essentials list. Stay safe, and we'll see you on the trails!

Expansion is the Word in Bridgewater, Marshfield

By Director of Land Protection, Scott MacFaden

In separate transactions over the past few months, our colleagues at the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Game (DFG) acquired a total of 52.3 acres that further expands the Taunton River Wildlife Management Area in Bridgewater. As the accompanying map depicts, the newly acquired parcels directly abuts both Great River Preserve and land DFG acquired in 2017 with Wildlands’ assistance. They are primarily wooded, include a mix of upland and wetland habitats, and include portions of Beaver Brook, a Taunton River tributary. 

Wildlands helped DFG acquire the additional acreage by agreeing to pre-pay a designated escrow agent, whose services were required to coordinate the timely closing of each acquisition. DFG subsequently reimbursed Wildlands for the escrow agent’s fees. One of the most important dimensions of Wildlands’ land protection work involves helping facilitate acquisition projects for partner entities. Project facilitation can take many forms, from bidding appraisals to preparing grant submissions to serving as a liaison between different stakeholders, and now, pre-paying for the services of an escrow agent.   

Encompassing almost 600 acres along both sides of the upper Taunton River in Bridgewater and Middleborough, the Taunton River Wildlife Management Area includes over two miles of river frontage, multiple rare species, scenic open fields, an extensive network of hiking trails, and Wildlands’ Great River Preserve. Since its inception in 2009, Great River Preserve has become one of our most visited and appreciated preserves and is a critical component to the largest assemblage of protected open space along the upper Taunton River, the only National Wild and Scenic River in Southeastern Massachusetts. 

Meanwhile, in Marshfield, we amended our 7.7-acre Furnace Brook conservation restriction (CR) to encompass an additional 3.9 acres, protecting land owned by the Town of Marshfield. Subsequent to the completion of the original CR in June 2017, the Town acquired parcels directly adjacent to the west and northeast, respectively. One of the additional parcels was acquired with the assistance of Drinking Water Supply Grant Program (DWSP) funds. Administered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the program provides funding to municipalities to help acquire land that is significant for water supply protection. 

  Furnace Brook CR, Marshfield

Furnace Brook CR, Marshfield

The land now comprising the Furnace Brook CR was an ideal candidate for DWSP funds.  It is entirely within a 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 Furnace Brook CR also possesses other conservation values. It includes extensive frontage on its namesake brook and is within Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program-designated rare species habitat. From a larger landscape perspective, the Furnace Brook CR is part of an expansive corridor of protected open space in Marshfield. It is within the town’s 200-acre Furnace Brook Watershed Area, which in turn, connects with the 800-acre Carolina Hill Reservation to create one of the largest contiguous open space assemblages in Marshfield.  

Thank you, as always, to Marshfield Open Space Committee Chair, Karen O’Donnell for all of her considerable efforts to advance the CR amendment to completion and thank you to Joan Pierce and DFG for further expanding the protected lands along the Taunton River.

Green Team 2018: Two Teams, Twenty-Two Teens, Six Hundred Hours of Service

By Outreach and Education Manager, Rachel Calderara

 Green Team 1 team members at the South Shore Natural Science Center

Green Team 1 team members at the South Shore Natural Science Center

This July, Wildlands Trust hosted our fourth annual Green Team youth volunteer program. Each summer, we hire motivated local teens to tackle conservation projects like trail building, farming, carpentry and water sampling. Over three weeks, six hundred volunteer hours were logged as these teens took Plymouth County by storm.

During the first week, we work with Green Team 1, our younger group of crewmembers ages twelve to fourteen. With a full team of eleven crewmembers, this team completed four service projects over four days:

  • Brush clearing around the historic stonewalls at the South Shore Natural Science Center (SSNSC)
  • Building five bluebird boxes for our headquarters at Davis-Douglas Farm
  • Pulling weeds, planting and harvesting at Bay End Farm
  • Clearing brush, gardening and weeding at Davis-Douglas Farm

 In return for their hard work, the team experienced:

  • A live turtle program at SSNSC
  • A tick safety talk with Plymouth County Entomologist Educator, Blake Dinius
  • A walk to active bluebird boxes at Myles Standish State Forest with Interpreter Dan Byrnes
  • The opportunity to try a variety of organic foods, including raw garlic, straight from the soil at Bay End Farm
  • A GPS scavenger hunt at Emery Preserve
 Green Team II at Nelson Park

Green Team II at Nelson Park

The next two weeks brought in eleven teens ages fifteen to eighteen for Green Team II, when we completed more intensive service projects. These included:

  • Building a new trail connection off Clark Rd. in the 90 degree July heat, part of a larger project to connect trails across South Plymouth
  • Picking up litter and ocean debris at Nelson Park
  • Helping vendors set up at the Plymouth Farmers’ Market
  • Water sampling on Round Pond with the Six Ponds Association
  • Surveying habitat for deer browse at South Triangle Pond with Mass Wildlife Biologists
  • Planting, raking, harvesting and weeding at Bay End Farm
  • Clearing trails for bird nets and improved bird habitat at Manomet, Inc.’s bird banding lab

Green Team II also had the opportunity to engage in deeper discussion of environmental issues, organic agriculture, career exploration and more. For fun and education without the strenuous labor, the team experienced:

  • A tick safety talk with Plymouth County Entomologist Educator, Blake Dinius
  • A shellfish dig with the Plymouth Harbormaster at Nelson Park
  • A tour and in-depth conversation about food production at Soule Homestead
  • A hike at Great South Pond with Naturalist Jim Sweeney where the team captured and studied dragonflies and damselflies, as well as other interesting insects of note
  • Our annual campout, where the team helps make dinner, sets up camp, goes on a night hike and bonds around the campfire
 Green Team II crew members observe an insect with Naturalist Jim Sweeney at Great South Pond

Green Team II crew members observe an insect with Naturalist Jim Sweeney at Great South Pond

We are so proud and impressed with everything the two teams were able to accomplish this summer. Each crew member displayed determination, curiosity, thoughtfulness and kindness to each other. We hope they are left wanting to learn and do more to help the environment and that they take the lessons they learned in Green Team with them into the future.

Interested in joining Green Team next year? Each crew member goes through a competitive application and interview process for a spot on the team and provide professional references. This was the first year both teams filled with the maximum eleven crew members and we expect the teams to fill again next year. Applications for Green Team 2019 will go online in March, so keep an eye on the e-news for the announcement next year!

Eagle Project Enhances Wildlands' Preserves

By Stewardship Manager, Erik Boyer

  John Schelling, second from right, and the rest of Troop 1620 install one of four recently built benches.

John Schelling, second from right, and the rest of Troop 1620 install one of four recently built benches.

Eagle Scout candidate, John Schelling from Plymouth Troop 1620, recently completed the construction and installation of four benches at South Triangle Preserve in Plymouth and the Gleason Family Preserve in Wareham for his Eagle Scout Service Project. Eagle Projects, a requirement to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout, provide a Scout with the opportunity to demonstrate leadership and planning skills by choosing a project that meets a needs of the community. Wildlands has worked with numerous Scouts over the years who have chosen to complete their Eagle Project with us. Past projects include: building water crossings, picnic tables, benches, new trails and mini kiosks.

  One of the four benches recently built by Plymouth Troop 1620.

One of the four benches recently built by Plymouth Troop 1620.

Two of the benches completed for John's project went to South Triangle, one was installed about a half mile into the trail system and the other overlooking Triangle Pond. At the Gleason Family Preserve, the remining two benches were installed at locations overlooking Mark’s Cove.

John has taken part in Wildlands' Green Team for the last two summers, including this summer, and has volunteered a number of times with us. We would like to thank John for both his hard work and the great leadership he exhibited throughout the project and wish him the best of luck in all of his future endeavors