Two Days, Twelve Hikers, Twenty-three Miles Trekked

By Outreach and Education Manager, Rachel Calderara

You may not think of long-distance hiking when you think of Southeastern Massachusetts, but here at Wildlands Trust we have a unique opportunity to showcase the potential for such an adventure. Two major factors make longer treks possible in our area: connectivity of protected lands across Plymouth County that weave a trail-studded landscape and “Trail Guy” Malcolm MacGregor who maps and hikes these long-distance routes. This year, Wildlands hosted our second annual “Big Ramble”, a two-part hike of 20+ miles. Last June, we traversed a 22-mile hike from the Plymouth Town Forest to Maple Springs Wildlife Management Area in Wareham. This year, Malcolm led us through 23 miles of trails in Plymouth from the top of the geographic Pine Hills to Abner Pond in the Myles Standish State Forest. 

Day One: Sunday, June 10, 2018

 The Day One crew begins a series of steep hills in South Plymouth

The Day One crew begins a series of steep hills in South Plymouth

On a beautiful spring day with temperatures peaking in the mid 60s, 11 hikers and three Wildlands Trust staff members set forth from the Cleft Rock parking area atop the geographic Pine Hills for a 12-mile trek to the Davis-Douglas Farm (DDF), Wildlands Trust's headquarters on Long Pond Rd. While it is “all downhill  from here” at the top of route 3A, we were in for a series of ups and downs as we got closer to DDF. First, we traversed the trails atop the Pine Hills, hitting the highest point in Plymouth and the second highest point on the eastern coastline. From there, we descended into the Town of Plymouth’s newly acquired “Tidmarsh West” conservation area off Beaver Dam Road, then across the road into Mass Audubon’s newest preserve, Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary. These two large tracts of land are important links for cross-town treks, not to mention one of the biggest ecological restoration projects in Massachusetts’ history.

From Tidmarsh, a quick jaunt through a subdivision brought us onto the trails at the Town of Plymouth’s Beaver Dam Conservation Area, a wooded preserve along the shores of Little Island and Great Island Ponds, and lead us to Old Sandwich Road. About 8 miles in at this point, the hills begin. Steep inclines and declines characterize the next 2-3 miles, bringing us to Ship Pond Road, over Route 3 and onto the trails of Wildlands Trust’s Emery Preserve. The last mile was leisurely as an exhausted group finally arrived at Davis-Douglas Farm and gave thanks for the perfect weather and company.

 The Day One crew atop the geographic Pine Hills

The Day One crew atop the geographic Pine Hills

Day Two: Sunday, June 17, 2018

Mother Nature was not so forgiving on this day, one of the last of spring and one of the first to break 80 degrees. A smaller group hit the trails this time, 5 hikers and 3 staff, for the final 11 miles starting at Davis-Douglas Farm and ending at Abner Pond at Camp Cachalot in Myles Standish State Forest. From DDF, the group started with an easy walk on some neighborhood roads to get to Halfway Pond Conservation Area, 400+ acres owned and managed by Wildlands Trust. Hiking up the trails at Gallows Pond, across Mast Road and halfway around Gramp’s Loop, a sudden left brought us into Myles Standish State Forest. From here on, we were immersed in true pine barrens, a plant community characterized by gnarly pitch pine and scrub oak that offered little shade for the next 7-8 miles.

 The Day Two Crew finds relief in the bits of shade that White Pines provide

The Day Two Crew finds relief in the bits of shade that White Pines provide

Hiking through a breathtaking landscape of historical significance, the group made their way south through the pine barrens, around pond shores, along open cutter fields and onto the Mass. Division of Fish and Game lands at Camp Cachalot. At the end of these hot, tiresome 11 miles, Malcolm was ready to turn around and hike back. The rest of us found relief in the air-conditioned environments of our cars as we drove off, tired but accomplished, looking forward to a summer of adventure on the trails.

 The Day Two Crew at the end of 11 miles for the day and 23 miles overall. Trail Guy Malcolm MacGregor is on the far right.

The Day Two Crew at the end of 11 miles for the day and 23 miles overall. Trail Guy Malcolm MacGregor is on the far right.

Without Malcolm’s interest and expertise in trail mapping and navigation, and his willingness to lead these hikes for us at Wildlands, organizing the Big Ramble would be challenging at best. We are thankful for his unparalleled volunteerism with Wildlands Trust. Malcolm leads shorter hikes for Wildlands on a monthly basis, so check out our events page to join the Trail Guy on his next adventure!

Looking to join Wildlands on a long hike this year? Mark your calendars for October 13 when OkTRAILberfest returns for a day of hiking, music and festival fun at Davis-Douglas Farm. Tickets go on sale late summer at wildlandstrust.org!

Wildlands Brushes Up on Outdoor Safety

 Wildlands staff and volunteers work through a staged medical emergency scenario during the wilderness first aid class.

Wildlands staff and volunteers work through a staged medical emergency scenario during the wilderness first aid class.

Wildlands staff and program volunteers recently had the opportunity to learn basic CPR/first aid and wilderness first aid from Dan Badger of Badger Wilderness Guides, “an outdoor and experiential education and  support service.”[1] Badger, a former US Army Ranger, is a certified instructor for various medical and rescue programs and agencies.[2] 

The basic CPR/first aid class trained participants in emergency and non-emergency medical situations that may occur in any setting. Those who completed the basic CPR/first aid class were then eligible to attend the wilderness first aid class. Held over the course of two-days, participants worked together through hands-on training scenarios to prepare them to provide effective first aid treatments for injuries and illnesses common in the outdoors.

With summer fast approaching and outdoor programs like The Big Ramble and OkTRAILberfest coming up, our staff and volunteers are ready to lead events that are both enjoyable and safe for all attending.

For more information on our upcoming programs, visit: wildlandstrust.org/events


[1] http://badgerwildernessguides.org/
[2] http://badgerwildernessguides.org/dan-badger/

Chainsaw School Comes to Wildlands

By Karen Grey

 Land Stewardship Coordinator, Tommy Blanchard, working under the direction of chainsaw safety trainer, Bill Girard.

Land Stewardship Coordinator, Tommy Blanchard, working under the direction of chainsaw safety trainer, Bill Girard.

Chainsaws are high speed, fast cutting tools with the potential to cause serious injury and because of that, Wildlands enforces a strict policy for their use on our properties. All Wildlands staff using chainsaws must attain safety certification that requires participation in a 16-hour chainsaw training course. Under normal weather circumstances, Stewardship Director, Erik Boyer, and part-time Land Steward, Owen Grey, both certified chainsaw users, can keep up with Wildlands’ tree work; however, the March 2018 storms were anything but normal. By late March, with an estimated 150 trees needing to be cleaned up, our small Wildlands crew was overwhelmed with work.

“We conducted a rapid assessment of our highly visited properties so we could close down trails with unsafe trees,” said Boyer. “That’s all we could do. We knew we had months of work to do.”

But next time, we will be better prepared! Partnering with Mass Audubon, which was also feeling the pinch of too much tree work and not enough trained staff, we brought in Game of Logging Instructor, William Girard, to hold a 2-day training program at Davis-Douglas Farm. The result: 8 new certified chainsaw users from Mass Audubon and Wildlands Trust.

Brockton Envirothon Team Soars at Competition

Each year since 2015, Wildlands Trust has helped coach the Brockton High School Envirothon team for the annual state competition. This past Friday the team spent the morning at Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge competing against twenty-four other teams from across the state. Ten students split up to compete in forestry, wildlife, water, and soils before coming back together to present their research on watershed issues in Brockton. For the first time, the team took first place for their presentation, as well as earning third place in forestry!

  The team presents their current issue research on watersheds to a panel of judges at the May 18 competition.

The team presents their current issue research on watersheds to a panel of judges at the May 18 competition.

Throughout the school year, the team thoroughly investigated the current issue topic “Working with Nature in Watersheds”. They met with climate scientists, city officials, foresters, ecologists, and more at afterschool meetings to help understand the complex watershed issues in Brockton. From the city’s complex drinking water supply issues to green infrastructure initiatives in the Taunton River watershed, these students covered it all.

Taking action, the team assisted Wildlands Trust staff in building a boardwalk over wetlands at Stone Farm Conservation Area to help provide public access to nature while protecting sensitive wetland habitat. Then, they put together a seven-step restoration plan for their school’s degrading Flagg Pond with the help of restoration ecologist Brad Holmes. Step one was to organize a school-wide pond cleanup, where thirty-six students collected enough litter to fill a truck bed. This pond leads directly into West Meadow Brook Pond in West Bridgewater, then to Lake Nippenicket in the Hockomock Swamp, and from there into the Taunton River itself. The rest of the Flagg Pond restoration plan will require a community effort that the school and Wildlands Trust will continue to investigate.

  The team assess conditions at Flagg Pond with restoration ecologist Brad Holmes in April

The team assess conditions at Flagg Pond with restoration ecologist Brad Holmes in April

We are very proud of everything the team accomplished this year. While the majority of this year’s students will be graduating in a few short weeks and going off to college, we look forward to coaching another great team starting next fall.  

  Congratulations on a job well done!

Congratulations on a job well done!

Canvassing Increases Awareness, Participation for GGCP

Wildlands Trust hits the streets of Brockton to promote Greening the Gateway Cities

 Tommy Blanchard and Conor Michaud with a recently planted tree at Brockton City Hall

Tommy Blanchard and Conor Michaud with a recently planted tree at Brockton City Hall

Spring has launched the new planting season for the Massachusetts Greening the Gateway Cities Program (GGCP) and in Brockton, it’s off to a great start. As of April 27, 611 trees have been planted throughout the city, 179 on public land and 432 on private, putting the program on track to reach its overall goal of planting 2,400 trees within three years. Success will increase canopy cover by 5-10 percent and reduce heating and cooling use and costs for households throughout the planting zone.

Responsible for supporting the program's outreach initiatives, Wildlands’ Community Stewardship Program Coordinator, Conor Michaud, and AmeriCorps member, Tommy Blanchard, have met with community members throughout the planting zone and have received overall positive responses from residents. Many who utilize the program report they first heard of GGCP from a canvasser.

Conor and Tommy will be kicking off their first tabling event of the season at the Plant and Seed Swap at the Frederick Douglass Community Garden on Sunday, May 6, from 12:30–3 p.m. To learn more about the Greening the Gateway Cities Program, stop by their table or visit our website at wildlandstrust.org/greening-the-gateway-cities.