A True Piece of Americana Saved in Dighton

In early January, the Town of Dighton acquired a piece of living history: an 8.5-acre parcel comprised primarily of open fields, situated off of Council Oak Way. 

Although not large in scale, the subject property nonetheless possesses an abundance of agricultural, water supply, historical, and cultural values that recommended it as a high priority for preservation.  It has been in active agricultural use for centuries, and contains prime farmland soils as designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

It directly abuts and buffers the town-owned Council Oak property and another town-owned property to the north, and is proximate to other parcels that are either protected or targets for protection, including several parcels owned by a local farmer. It is contained within an area identified by the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation as a “Priority Heritage Landscape”.  The Heritage Landscape designation was afforded only to those landscapes possessed of outstanding historical and cultural significance.  Although this designation was focused specifically on the Town’s Council Oak preserve, it also speaks to the archeological and historical significance of the larger area including the subject property.  

The subject property is contained within a Zone II Watershed Protection Area as identified by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.  The Somerset Water District owns a sizable adjacent tract that provides a buffer zone for a drinking water well located approximately 800 ft. to the north of the subject property. 

Wildlands Trust first became aware of the property’s significance in 2012 through Roger and Donna Desrosiers, with whom we serve on the Taunton Wild and Scenic River Stewardship Council (the body that implements the stewardship plan associated with the river’s designation as a National Wild and Scenic River in 2009).  Roger (Grey Fox) and Donna (Spirit Fox) are also members of a local Native American group, the Dighton Intertribal Council.  They advised that the property’s owner, G. Lopes Inc., had announced intentions to remove gravel from the site, precipitating great concern among conservation advocates, historical preservationists, and the Intertribal Council. 

Roger Desrosiers, "Grey Fox"

Roger Desrosiers, "Grey Fox"

Roger and Donna educated us and many others about the significance, and the sacredness, of the property and the surrounding landscape to local Native Americans.  It was used and occupied for over 8,000 years up into colonial times, and once supported as many as nine Native American villages.  Under the mighty Council Oak itself, the sachem Massasoit made the decision to assist the recently arrived and struggling Pilgrims, and later signed an agreement conveying what is now Dighton to European settlers.  In the present day, local Native Americans consider the Council Oak property and surrounding properties, including the subject property, as an essential component of their heritage. 

In partnership with Roger and Donna and Environmental Program Director Bill Napolitano of SRPEDD, the Taunton-based regional planning agency, Wildlands initiated efforts in 2012 to preserve the land, helping to negotiate a potential sales price and securing a substantial funding commitment from the Dighton Community Preservation Committee in 2013.  But finding the remaining funds needed to close the deal proved challenging, and our preservation effort was shelved for several years. 

Roger and Donna’s fervent commitment to protecting this critical part of the region’s heritage never wavered during the intervening years, even when the prospects of a successful outcome appeared bleak.  In addition to Roger and Donna also kept open a line of communication with the Lopes family, and continually reaffirmed our collective interest in achieving a preservation outcome for the land. 

In 2017, the landowner made it clear that he would seek a final resolution of the property’s future—it was preservation or some combination of gravel extraction and residential development.  With this imperative looming, Bill suggested a heretofore unexplored strategy:  utilize mitigation monies set aside in the early 2000’s to compensate for the loss of state-designated prime farmland in neighboring Taunton that was converted into an industrial park.  These mitigation monies had sat untouched for over a decade, and awaited creative use to help preserve high-quality farmland at risk of conversion.  With this in mind, Bill received approval from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and the Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources to allocate $150,000 of the mitigation monies to the project. 

The Dighton Conservation Commission came up with the additional $150,000 needed to close the deal. 

The Town of Dighton now owns the land, which will remain in active agricultural production in perpetuity. 

Many thanks to Bill for his persistence and creative suggestion to pursue the mitigation funds, and to the Lopes family for granting us an extended window to consummate a purchase.  We also wish to extend particular thanks to Roger and Donna for their invaluable assistance and unceasing dedication to achieving this long-sought preservation outcome.  We at Wildlands Trust share their happiness with this outcome, and are pleased to have had a role in helping to facilitate the property’s preservation. 

Pond Shore Restoration Begins in Plymouth

Wildlands Trust is collaborating with the Town of Plymouth to undertake the restoration of the western shoreline of Halfway Pond, the centerpiece of our 430-acre Halfway Pond Conservation Area. Over the years, a variety of activities including vehicle traffic, snow plowing, and human disturbance and trampling have contributed to the destruction of the vegetative buffer, which is critically important for maintaining water quality and wildlife.

“Damage to the pond shore from vehicles has grown considerably in recent years. Plymouth is growing and more and more GPS apps are sending cars through the area to avoid high traffic spots,” said Wildlands Trust Director Karen Grey. “Last fall an 18-wheel truck loaded with cranberries jack-knifed into the pond because the driver was following GPS directions.”

Cranberries washing ashore after a tractor trailer full of berries jack-knifed into Halfway Pond

Cranberries washing ashore after a tractor trailer full of berries jack-knifed into Halfway Pond

The plan is to remove old fencing and debris, establish appropriate erosion controls, and re-plant and enlarge the pond shore buffer. Our goal is to improve habitat features and pond health, and to establish appropriate public access. As part of this project, the Plymouth Selectmen have given approval for Wildlands Trust to convert a quarter mile stretch of Mast Road owned by Wildlands into a footpath.

Restoration at Jarabeck Preserve, Swansea

Wildlands Trust stewardship staff and volunteers are working to revive the 42-acre Jarabeck Preserve.  An original holding of the Swansea Land Trust, Jarabeck is one of six conservation parcels transferred to Wildlands nearly ten years ago. It is our western-most preserve with an accessible trail system. The forested property has several lovely small ponds and marsh areas.

“We want to make Jarabeck accessible to the residents of Swansea for activities like hiking, bird-watching, snow shoeing, and nature photography,” said Wildlands Stewardship Manager Erik Boyer. “It’s a great spot but it needs some serious attention right now.”

Boyer and his crew have already removed three truckloads of dumped debris from the property and as the weather warms, they will be cutting back the over-grown trails and clearing trees that have come down in storms. By the late spring, their work should be complete and the property will be open for hiking!

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2017: A Year for Conservation

As we ring in the new year, we would like to thank you for the conservation successes you’ve made possible in 2017.

This past year, Wildlands Trust was able to add 450 acres to our protected lands portfolio, land that we will conserve and protect in perpetuity. At the very beginning of 2017, we announced the largest single acquisition in Wildlands’ 44-year history thanks to the generosity and enduring conservation ethic of donors Gerald and Maureen Sheehan. The 275-acre Luigi and Teotista Cortelli Preserve on Great South Pond in Plymouth contains globally rare habitats and is a critical link in a 19,000-acre corridor of contiguous open space in Southeastern Massachusetts. Throughout 2017, our land stewardship staff and various volunteer crews constructed a trail system at this preserve that links the Plymouth Town Forest with Myles Standish State Forest. We led a number of public hikes last year highlighting this corridor, including the two-part, 20-mile Big Ramble in June and a 6-mile hike around Great South Pond in September.

Overlooking Great South Pond atop Pinnacle Hill at Luigi and Teotista Cortelli Preserve Photo by Jerry Monkman

Overlooking Great South Pond atop Pinnacle Hill at Luigi and Teotista Cortelli Preserve
Photo by Jerry Monkman

In Bridgewater, Wildlands Trust collaborated with the Mass. Deparment of Fish and Game to save an additional 62 acres along the Taunton River, expanding our Great River Preserve and the larger Taunton River Wildlife Management Area, which now encompasses a total of 570 acres. With a generous memorial gift in honor of Mark Kaetzer, our stewardship staff and volunteers began working on improvements at the entrance of Great River Preserve. We completed the new memorial gate and bench at the end of 2017, and in 2018, we will build a new handicapped parking area and a barrier free trail to provide access to the Taunton River for all people.

In addition to these standout stewardship projects, our staff and volunteers completed countless improvements to Wildlands Trust trail systems across our region. In Wareham, we reestablished the trail system at Great Neck Preserve and in a collaborative effort to install a network of trails in the Mark’s Cove area, we added two miles of trails and water crossings at our Gleason Family Preserve. The trail systems of Six Ponds Preserve and Emery West Preserve, part of the Davis-Douglas Farm Conservation Area, were extended and improved for public access over a number of volunteer workdays. A new trail map for Davis-Douglas Farm is in the works.

Stewardship volunteers and staff worked together to complete the new memorial gate at the entrance of Great River Preserve on Auburn St. in Bridgewater. Photo by Rob MacDonald.

Stewardship volunteers and staff worked together to complete the new memorial gate at the entrance of Great River Preserve on Auburn St. in Bridgewater. Photo by Rob MacDonald.

Our new Community Stewardship Program continued to assist municipalities in our service area with trail design, construction, and mapping, grant attainment, networking, and outreach. In Brockton, we are working on the restoration of 2.4 miles of trails in the city’s 104-acre Stone Farm Conservation Area began. Once complete, this trail system will connect to Wildlands Trust’s Brockton Audubon Preserve, providing miles of hiking trails within the city. Our CSP staff are also spearheading outreach efforts for the Greening the Gateway Cities Program in Brockton, which seeks to plant 2,400 trees in the city at no cost to landowners in an effort to increase shade and reduce household energy costs by 5 to 10 percent.

The Community Conservation Barn was open for its first full year at our new headquarters at Davis-Douglas Farm in Plymouth. We offered over 70 public programs in the Barn and 126 public programs overall, attracting 1,500 people to participate in the Wildlands Trust mission through hikes, wellness workshops, presentations, trainings, meetings, and more. The new Barn and beautiful 10-acre grounds at Davis-Douglas Farm also allowed us to host our first ever OkTRAILberfest celebration in October. OkTRAILberfest attracted over 200 people and raised $11,000 for our Youth Unplugged Initiative, providing outdoor opportunities for youth of all ages.

Youth Unplugged saw a boost in 2017 with the growth of both the Envirothon and Green Team programs. In addition to sponsoring and coaching the Brockton High School Envirothon team for our third consecutive year, we assisted in starting a new Envirothon team at Plymouth South High School. The summer Green Team grew from a small-group high school internship to include both middle and high school age groups in 2017, expanding our capacity to engage local youth in meaningful environmental learning and volunteerism.

The 2017 Green Team middle school age group volunteers at Bay Farm in Bourne

The 2017 Green Team middle school age group volunteers at Bay Farm in Bourne

Fundraising was strong in 2017 thanks to the generosity of our 1,400 members. Most notable was your commitment to land protection and the funding needed to make it happen. This fiscal year, our members contributed nearly $600,000 to help purchase and steward land, the foundation of our mission.

As we reflect on these successes, we are also aware that there are many challenges to conserving land in the age of intensive development pressures, shifting community needs and fiscal priorities, and unprecedented reliance on our technological devices. Our mission to conserve and permanently protect the native habitats, farmlands, and ecologically valuable and scenic landscapes of Southeastern Massachusetts feels more important than ever. 2017 was a strong year for local land conservation, but there is important work ahead in 2018 and beyond.

At Wildlands Trust, we envision a future where open land is abundant, our water is clean, and forests, farms, wetlands, fields, ponds, and coastal areas are commonplace sightings on our landscape. Thank you for sharing this vision and supporting our efforts. Together, we unlock the potential to protect even more land for the public benefit year after year. If you are not a member, please consider joining today to help us kick off 2018!

Holiday Charity Drive Report

Throughout the holiday season, you brought us food items, gift cards, and handmade hats for those in need in the Wildlands Trust service area. With your help, we were able to collect 200+ food items for the South Shore Community Action Council's Food Resource Program, which distributes to 45 pantries, soup kitchens, schools, and more throughout the South Shore, and $200+ dollars in gift cards and dozens of homemade hats to the Turning Point Shelter in Wareham, a community in which Wildlands Trust holds seven properties. 

Thank you so much to all who brought in items to donate! It truly made a difference for those in need. Please remember you can donate all year long to either of these amazing organizations. 

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Towns Receive CPA Matching Funds for Open Space Projects

Multiple towns across Wildlands Trust’s coverage area, including many we actively partner with on Community Preservation Act (CPA) open space projects, recently received notification of the distributions they would receive this fiscal year from the CPA Trust Fund.  Established as part of the CPA’s enabling legislation in 2000, the Trust Fund provides for annual distributions to communities that have passed the CPA, and is funded by a surcharge levied on transactions at Registries of Deeds across the Commonwealth.  Although the percentage of matching funds varies from year to year, the matching funds are critical to complementing the funds each CPA community raises locally. 

Within the region Wildlands serves, our hometown Plymouth led the way, receiving $389,552 in matching funds. 

The CPA has been the most significant catalyst for locally-driven open space protection in the Commonwealth’s history, and has enabled communities to pursue a wide range of projects that would otherwise have not materialized.  A classic example of such projects we often cite is the Center Hill Preserve project in Plymouth.  Back in 2005-06, the Town acquired 78 acres, including 28 acres on Cape Cod Bay, at an initial cost of $5.7 million—but subsequently leveraged over $3 million in federal and state funds.  And there’s more--with the 1:1 Trust Fund match then prevailing, the Town’s net cost of the Center Hill Project was under $2 Million. Leveraging of this scale isn’t always feasible, but similar if less expensive examples abound of communities successfully using CPA funds to help leverage outside funds. 

Plymouth's Center Hill Preserve in the winter. Photo by Jerry Monkman.

Plymouth's Center Hill Preserve in the winter. Photo by Jerry Monkman.

One could argue that a working definition of a livable community is one that invests in all of its critical infrastructure, and not just “traditional” infrastructure (roads and bridges, utilities).  While traditional infrastructure is undeniably important and worthy of investment, the CPA focuses in part on our ecological and historical infrastructure—both often underfunded and even neglected before the advent of the Act.  

Congratulations to Plymouth and all the CPA communities in our region for adopting the Act, and working diligently to successfully implement its multiple community preservation dimensions. 

Book and Music Recommendations for the Adventurous Reader and Listener (and not just for the holidays)

By Scott MacFaden

The madness of the holiday season is now upon us, and so as a public service we at Wildlands Trust thought it appropriate to offer some suggestions to those of you who might be searching for creative gift ideas. 

All of the works referenced below explore, and in some cases enhance, the interrelatedness of people and landscape, and were created by people who have some past or present involvement with the conservation field. 
 

The Wild Places
The Old Ways
Robert MacFarlane, Author

Mr. MacFarlane is a fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, England, and the author of multiple books exploring the connections between cultures, landscapes, and language.  

The Wild Places has as its basis a seemingly simple question:  are there any places left in Scotland, Ireland, England, and environs that could possibly qualify as a “wild” place, acknowledging that defining “wild” is a wholly subjective enterprise?  MacFarlane explores this question with a profound curiosity, good humor, and a keen eye for detail, and his conclusions may surprise you.  While the book has a particular geographic focus, it also speaks to universal themes that transcend the limitations of that focus.  At the same time, if you have ever been to or wish to visit any of the places MacFarlane explores, you will appreciate this book all the more. 

While primarily centered on the British Isles, in the Old Ways MacFarlane expands his geographic focus this time around to encompass Spain, the Middle East, and the Himalayas. 

Ever the active and enthusiastic participant and never a mere observer, he sets boots to ground to explore a fascinating variety of “old ways”, including the “Broomway” in southeast coastal England, a muddy but somewhat walkable path at low tide which transforms to a very dangerous trek indeed at high tide.  For the Broomway and all the other places MacFarlane explores on his journey, he educates us about their history while also affirming their contemporary relevance. 

In addition to his authorial and pedagogical pursuits, Mr. MacFarlane is a founding trustee of Action for Conservation, a UK-based group that works to connect youth with the outdoors. 
 

The Year of the Turtle
Trout Reflections
Swampwalker’s Journal
David Carroll, Author and Illustrator

Moving much closer to home, this trio of books by acclaimed naturalist, fervent wetlands advocate, author, and illustrator David Carroll comprises a so-called “wet sneaker trilogy”.  Based in New Hampshire but at one time a resident of the South Shore, Carroll brings to his explorations a scientist’s rigor and eye for detail and an artist’s passion and enthusiasm—an unusual and invigorating combination.

You will almost certainly see and experience wetland ecosystems differently, and more acutely and appreciatively, after reading these books and engaging with their many vivid illustrations. 

Mr. Carroll has worked with public conservation entities on a variety of initiatives, including conducting ecological assessments for the endangered species programs of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. 
 

Become Ocean
Inuksuit
John Luther Adams, Composer

Prior to crafting his nearly forty-year career as one of America’s most creative and free-thinking composers, Mr. Adams was one of us—yes, a practicing environmental professional in Alaska.  Among other pursuits, he was the Executive Director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, and was involved in advocating for the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which expanded the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  While his departure from our field was a loss, he has more than made up for that with his contributions to America’s musical canon. 

Mr. Adams’ works are informed by and reflect his deep environmental ethic.  He has said that “my music is a way of making us more present in the world”.    While we would wholeheartedly recommend any of the works in his now-expansive oeuvre, for now we direct your attention to two recent works—Become Ocean and Inuksuit. 

Become Ocean is a grand-scale symphonic composition that won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2014, and is a powerful and compelling musical meditation on how humans are affecting the planet’s ecosystems, particularly oceans.  The Seattle Symphony recorded the work, and it has been widely performed across the United States.   

Inuksuit is a very different type of composition—a percussion-based piece for anywhere from 9 to 99 percussion instruments/ensembles, dispersed across the given performance space.  The exact number of percussion pieces is left to the discretion of the performance’s sponsors and performers. 

Most interestingly, Inuksuit is intended to be performed outside, with whatever ambient conditions then prevailing becoming part of that particular performance.  The piece has been performed across the United States and in Canada and Australia, and in 2016 Arnold Arboretum hosted a performance of the work to considerable acclaim.  We at the Trust have great interest in possibly sponsoring a local performance at some point in the next few years. 

Hitting the Trails on Black Friday

On the morning after Thanksgiving, nearly 60 people skipped the stores and hit the trails with us at our third annual Post Feast Waddle. Dogs, families, and friends hiked from the Davis-Douglas Farm to the beech tree clearing at Emery Preserve West. From there, hikers chose either 1.6 miles or 3 miles round trip for the hike back to DDF. Everyone enjoyed refreshments in the Community Conservation Barn afterwards on a beautiful sunny day! Thanks to everyone who came out to enjoy the morning with us, and thanks to Rob MacDonald for the photos!

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OkTRAILberfest Success

One month ago today, on October 7th, Wildlands Trust hosted our first ever OkTRAILberfest here at Davis-Douglas Farm in Plymouth. Over 200 people came out on a beautiful October afternoon to enjoy an abundance of trail activities, music, food, and beer, all to support the Youth Unplugged Initiative.

The earliest hikers arrived at 8:00 am that Saturday for the longest hike of the day: 9 miles from Myles Standish State Forest to Davis-Douglas Farm (DDF), led by John Bescherer and Bill Vickstrom of the Friends of Myles Standish. Around 9:00 am, the next group of hikers arrived, prepared for a trek that would start at Ellisville State Harbor and traverse hilly and difficult terrain for 6 miles before returning to DDF, led by Roger Janson and Betsy Hall. The largest hiking group of the day started at Redbrook for a 5-mile hike to DDF led by Malcolm MacGregor and Scott MacFaden of Wildlands Trust. Finally, around 11:30 am the last hikers of the morning embarked on a 4-mile journey from Old Sandwich Road to DDF, led by Frank Werny and Ann Prentice. Wildlands Trust arranged a shuttle to bring all of these hikers to their prospective trailheads so they could seamlessly hike back to their cars and the party.

6-mile hikers return to DDF from Ellisville State Harbor

6-mile hikers return to DDF from Ellisville State Harbor

In addition to the morning hikes, Stewardship Manager Erik Boyer organized a trail run with 3 and 6 mile options that began and ended at DDF. To win the Wildlands Trust swag bag, we challenged the runners to predict their time; the runner who came closest would win. In the end, it was a two-way tie and the prizes were split!

During the festivities, Naturalist Judy Macioci led a 2-mile family friendly hike in the afternoon to add to the fun. Families and friends hiked to the beech tree clearing at Emery Preserve and back, counting the dozens of mushrooms growing trailside along the way.

About half of those who came to OkTRAILberfest skipped the hiking and running and just came for the party. Everyone enjoyed the German buffet from Farms to Forks Catering, live authentic German music from the TubaFrau Hofbräu Band and later Americana music from the Butch McCarthy Bob Calderara Duo, libations from IndieFerm Brewing, a historic tour of DDF, a growler-hoisting competition, raffle prizes, and lawn games played throughout our 10-acre headquarters.

IndieFerm Beer was pouring all afternoon under the Beer Tent

IndieFerm Beer was pouring all afternoon under the Beer Tent

With support from our sponsors and those who came out to celebrate, we were able to raise over $2,000 for Youth Unplugged. This money will support the Envirothon program at Brockton High School, the summer Green Team program, Boy and Girl Scout projects with Wildlands, and more!

Green Team members Roxie and Jill volunteering at OkTRAILberfest

Green Team members Roxie and Jill volunteering at OkTRAILberfest

We want to thank everyone who came out and made our inaugural event a smashing success! We’re already looking forward to doing it again next year!

A very special thanks to our sponsors – we could not have done it without you: Penobscot, Inc., The Pinehills, Solar Turf, Redbrook, Richmond’s Septic & Excavation, Mamma Mia’s, Anchor Press, Scorpio Craftsmen, Six Ponds, Woods Seafood, and Rockland Trust.

Over 200 people enjoyed OkTRAILberfest on Saturday, October 7, 2017

Over 200 people enjoyed OkTRAILberfest on Saturday, October 7, 2017

Memorial Gifts to Give Great River Preserve a Face Lift

A long fought battle with cancer did not stop Mark Kaetzer from visiting the Great River Preserve nearly every week for two years with his wife, Judy. “It was what we looked forward to,” said Judy. “We would walk out to the same bench and just enjoy the peace and quiet.” When Mark passed away in August, Judy contacted Wildlands Trust and said that she wanted Mark’s memorial gifts - donated by their friends, family, and co-workers - to fund a face lift at the entrance to the preserve. Judy’s vision was for a new gate and fencing, a handicapped parking spot, plantings, and signage. As Mark’s illness progressed and his mobility declined, Judy became aware of the need for better handicap accommodations at the entrance to the preserve and this gift will go a long way toward helping mobility challenged people access the Taunton River.  Wildlands will be hosting a volunteer workday next spring to complete this project. Thank you, Judy, for this really thoughtful gift!

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Holiday Charity Drive at Wildlands Trust

Tis the season of giving at Wildlands Trust! Throughout November and December, we will be collecting nonperishable foods and gift cards for those in need. Food items of need include canned pastas (Spaghetti O’s, Chef Boyardee, etc.), canned fruits, peanut butter, jelly, soups, granola bars, cereal, pancake mix, syrup, and any kid-friendly items light enough to carry in a backpack. Gift cards are needed for gas stations, Walmart, and Target.

Food donations will go to the South Shore Community Action Council’s Food Resources Program, which delivers food to 45 pantries, soup kitchens, schools, and more throughout the South Shore. 

Gift card donations will go to the Turning Point shelter in Wareham, a community in which Wildlands Trust holds seven conservation properties. $10 gift cards can truly make a difference, especially during the holidays!

We ask that anyone participating in a Wildlands Trust public program in the months of November and December bring an item to donate with them. You can also donate food at any time at our office, 675 Long Pond Rd. We ask that gift cards only be brought during office hours Mon - Fri 9:00 - 5:00 or to programs.

Let’s work together to make the holidays happier for everyone in our community!

Hunting Season Safety

Hunting season is back upon us this fall in Massachusetts! Wildlands Trust has four properties that permit hunting during this time: Great River Preserve, Bridgewater; South Triangle Pond Conservation Area, Plymouth; Striar Conservancy, Halifax; and Barnes Rymut Preserve, Halifax. Hunting is prohibited on all other Wildlands Trust properties. Still, boundaries can be confusing and hunters sometimes cross into prohibited areas unknowingly. Please be mindful when you are out in the woods this year, wherever it is that you like to hike, run, or ride. The best way to protect yourself is to wear blaze orange like our staff does!

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While hunters are required to wear blaze orange during certain seasons, Mass Wildlife recommends that all outdoor users who are in the woods during hunting season wear blaze orange clothing as a precaution, and that pets wear an orange vest or bandana for visibility.

Pheasant, Quail and Ruffed Grouse season is open Oct. 14 – Nov. 25, Wild Turkey season is Oct. 14 – Nov. 4, and Deer season opens in various stages on Nov. 2, with Nov. 27 – Dec. 9 being shotgun season for Deer. Please see a full list of seasons here: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/seasons-summary.pdf.

You can learn more at mass.gov/topics/hunting.

Have a great fall, and stay safe!

Bat Week! Oct. 24 - 31

Did you know that today marks the beginning of Bat Week? Bat Week is an annual, international celebration of the role of bats in nature, organized by a team of representatives from across the United States and Canada form conservation organizations and government departments. 

Last Thursday, October 19, bat enthusiast Angela Gordon helped prepare us for Bat Week with her "Batty for Bats" talk and Wildlands Trust. Attendees received a thorough overview of bat adaptations and behaviors, bats species of Massachusetts, the importance of bats to humans, and threats to bat populations around the world. 

Angela Gordon presents "Batty for Bats" at Wildlands Trust. Bats are the only flying mammal! Other "flying mammals" like the flying squirrel simply glide and cannot propel themselves. 

Angela Gordon presents "Batty for Bats" at Wildlands Trust. Bats are the only flying mammal! Other "flying mammals" like the flying squirrel simply glide and cannot propel themselves. 

White nose syndrome, habitat loss, and other factors have contributed to the decline of bat populations world-wide. These mammals provide vital ecological services to humans by eating disease-carrying insects like mosquitoes and pollinating crops that we depend on.

During Bat Week you can get involved in your local community to help raise awareness about the importance of bats and threats to their survival! Find out the many ways that all ages can get involved at batweek.org. You can also make some tasty treats with bat-dependent ingredients in this Bat Cook Book

 

Meet Tommy Blanchard

Wildlands Trust would like to welcome our newest AmeriCorps member, Tommy Blanchard! Tommy will serve as the Land Stewardship Coordinator at Wildlands Trust for the next 11 months through the TerraCorps program, which supports 36 full-time AmeriCorps members serving at non-profit conservation organizations across Massachusetts.

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During his year of service as the Wildlands Trust TerraCorps LSC, Tommy will focus on enhancing community involvement with open space in North Plymouth and Brockton and engaging youth groups in meaningful service learning projects. 

Tommy grew up exploring and camping in and around his hometown of Duxbury, and has a deep affection for New England and a desire to give back to local communities, especially those in areas that lack adequate access to green space. During his years at Hamilton College and as an alumni, he has led backpacking trips in the Adirondacks for incoming freshmen. This past summer he traveled to Northern California to WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and work at a summer camp for kids.

In addition to his interest in the great outdoors, Tommy enjoys acting, singing, and performing stand-up comedy. He recently graduated from Hamilton College with a Bachelor of Arts in biology and is currently considering a career in education. Tommy is excited to spend a year engaging with the communities of Southeastern MA and we are excited to have him on the team!

The 2017-18 TerraCorps members at their orientation in August, 2017 after a tour of the Harvard Forest led by Brian Hall

The 2017-18 TerraCorps members at their orientation in August, 2017 after a tour of the Harvard Forest led by Brian Hall

Much Ado About Marshfield CPA CR’S

By Scott MacFaden, Director of Land Protection

The dog days of summer were anything but quiet in Marshfield, as we completed a quartet of Community Preservation Act Conservation Restrictions within a several-week span in August.  Encompassing a variety of landscapes at various locations around the town, the Conservation Restrictions range in scale from eight acres to 32, and help protect a variety of conservation values, including rare species habitat, North River frontage, and land critical to protecting water supplies. 

The Town used Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to help acquire all of these properties.  Marshfield has consistently been one of the most effective communities in Wildlands Trust’s coverage area in utilizing the CPA to protect significant open space properties.

These four Conservation Restrictions (CR) are the latest in a series of CPA CR’s we have completed in partnership with the Town of Marshfield’s Open Space Committee and Community Preservation Committee. 

Many thanks to Karen O’Donnell for her persistence, energy, and good humor in advancing these CR’s to completion.  Marshfield’s successful implementation of the CPA is very much attributable to volunteers like Karen, who give generously of their time and energy in service of their community. 

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NORTH RIVER CORRIDOR CPA CR

The North River Corridor CPA CR helps protect land that possesses multiple conservation values.  The Town acquired the Property in December 2015 after many years of on and off negotiations with the landowners.

Encompassing 32.4 acres off the west side of Union Street, the subject Property has extensive North River frontage, is within Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program-designated rare species habitat, and perhaps most importantly, is a critical link in an expansive corridor of contiguous open space along the North River east of Rt. 3.  This area has witnessed several vital open space acquisitions over the past decade that have served to create a contiguous riparian expanse of over 500 acres. 

The Property is open for “passive” recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, and nature study, and is best accessed from an adjacent town-owned open space property, the Little Conservation Area, which includes a trailhead parking area on Union Street. 

CAROLINA HILL ADDITION CPA CR

This CR helps protect eight acres of upland woods directly abutting the northern tip of the Town’s Carolina Hill Woodland Reservation, an 800-acre expanse that is one of the Town’s largest open space reserves.  

The Town acquired the Property in 2012 because of its proximity to Carolina Hill.   Due to adjacent development, opportunities to expand Carolina Hill are dwindling, and the Town acted quickly and decisively to pursue this modestly scaled but very strategic acquisition. 

HOLLY ROAD CPA CR

Tucked away up on Holly Hill in east Marshfield lies a 52-acre property acquired by the Town in 2013, primarily because of its proximity to a town drinking water well.   Because of that proximity, the Property is within a Zone II Wellhead Protection Area and a Water Resource Protection District.  Our CR encompasses 27.6 acres of the Property’s total acreage, with the balance under the care and custody of the Marshfield Department of Public Works. 

Almost entirely wooded and with level topography, the Property is also rich with important wildlife habitats.  It is especially notable for its six certified vernal pools, all of which occur within our CR area. 

CARESWELL STREET CPA CR

The Careswell Street CPA CR protects 18.5 acres situated off of its namesake street in southeast Marshfield.  Similar to the North River and Carolina Hill projects referenced above, the acquisition of this Property expands an existing assemblage of conservation land.  Two Town open space holdings, the 58-acre Wharf Creek/Estes Woods and Webster’s Wilderness, are directly adjacent and proximate, respectively, and Mass. Audubon’s Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary is situated nearby to the north. 

The Careswell Street property lies within Natural Heritage Program-designated rare species habitat, and helps to protect the water quality of nearby Wharf Creek, which drains into Green Harbor. 

Green Team Gives Gift to Local Environment

In Wildlands Trust’s third summer hosting Green Team, the program nearly triples in size and capacity, cultivating the next generation of environmental leaders.

With the summer of 2017 came the third consecutive Green Team program at Wildlands Trust. Each summer, we select teens from across Southeastern Massachusetts for this labor-intensive, career exploration internship that exposes them to conservation related work happening in the region. With a four part focus on land stewardship, agriculture, wildlife conservation, and water quality, staff at Wildlands Trust take the team to cut new trails, track wildlife, test water quality, help with farm work, and more at Wildlands properties and in partnership with other local organizations. 

This year marked the first year of expanding the Green Team to include middle school aged students as well as high school aged with the addition of “Green Team 1”, a one-week volunteer program for ages 12 – 14. The two-week “Green Team 2” internship was reserved for ages 15 – 18, involving more intensive field work, longer days, and an overnight campout.

The 2017 Green Team program involve a total of 17 students from our local communities! In previous summers Green Team had six and then seven students involved. The addition of a middle school age group, offering a shuttle from Brockton High School, promotion with Healthy Plymouth, and word of mouth all seemed to contribute to the growth and success of this program in 2017.

This year’s crews were led by Rachel Calderara, Program Coordinator, and Maura Coughlin, Education and Stewardship Assistant. Rachel helped to start the Green Team program in 2015 as a MassLIFT AmeriCorps member at Wildlands Trust, and now takes the lead on planning and executing the program as a full time staff member. Maura, a student at Simmons College, was a Green Team crewmember in 2016 and now helps to plan and execute the Green Team and other educational programs, as well as help steward properties as a seasonal employee.

We would like to congratulate the students on a job very well done this summer! Our hope is that exposure to environmental learning and volunteerism will promote responsible land use and inspire the next generation of leaders to protect our natural resources. Thank you to our sponsors at Rockland Trust and The Dorr Foundation for making these programs possible year after year, to Union Point for their generous sponsorship, and to all of the individuals and organizations that hosted the crew this July! We're already looking forward to next year!

Green Team 1:

Day One: Trail cutting at Pickerel Pond Preserve and Emery Preserve, Plymouth

Day One: Trail cutting at Pickerel Pond Preserve and Emery Preserve, Plymouth

Day Two: Trail work and tour of New England Wildlife Center, Weymouth

Day Two: Trail work and tour of New England Wildlife Center, Weymouth

Day Three: Organic farming at Bay End Farm, Bourne

Day Three: Organic farming at Bay End Farm, Bourne

Green Team 2:

Day One: Bench building in the Wildlands workshop and Geocaching at Emery Preserve, Plymouth

Day One: Bench building in the Wildlands workshop and Geocaching at Emery Preserve, Plymouth

Day Two: Water quality testing and birding with Herring Ponds Watershed Association, Plymouth

Day Two: Water quality testing and birding with Herring Ponds Watershed Association, Plymouth

Day Three: Trail building at Union Point, Weymouth

Day Three: Trail building at Union Point, Weymouth

Day Four: Blanding’s turtle tracking using radio telemetry with Mass Wildlife, West Bridgewater

Day Four: Blanding’s turtle tracking using radio telemetry with Mass Wildlife, West Bridgewater

Day Five: Garlic harvesting at Bay End Farm, Bourne

Day Five: Garlic harvesting at Bay End Farm, Bourne

Day Five, pm: Team campout at Old Field Preserve, Bourne. 

Day Five, pm: Team campout at Old Field Preserve, Bourne. 

Day Six: Campout cleanup and organic farming at Bay End Farm/Old Field Preserve, Bourne

Day Six: Campout cleanup and organic farming at Bay End Farm/Old Field Preserve, Bourne

Welcome Aboard New CSP Coordinator, Conor Michaud!

This month, Wildlands Trust said goodbye to Community Stewardship Program Manager Ryan Krapp as he embarked on a cross-country move to Washington State. Luckily for us, Massachusetts native Conor Michaud moved back to the Bay State just in time to take over the Community Stewardship Program!

Conor Michaud, Wildlands Trust CSP Coordinator

Conor Michaud, Wildlands Trust CSP Coordinator

Conor was born and raised on the South Shore. He spent his formative years working on water quality research and instructing microbiology out of a teaching laboratory in Cohasset, MA. After graduating with a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Conor found work with the Student Conservation Association in Alaska where he worked as crew leader, honing his trail design and restoration skills in Anchorage and the Denali backcountry.

After working for the SCA, Conor was contracted to work on the Google Trekker project as a GIS field technician in Philadelphia. Over the course of nine months, Conor worked to geolocate and photograph every trail system in Philadelphia for Google’s largest ever city Trekker project. Upon completion of this project, Conor moved back to his home state and started work for the Wildlands Trust as the Community Stewardship Program Coordinator. After working alongside Ryan for three weeks, Conor now takes over the CSP, using his trail design and construction experience as well as his GIS background to help communities develop healthy and sustainable trail systems in the ongoing effort of land conservation in southeastern MA.

Ryan will be sorely missed at Wildlands Trust and in the community at large, but we know that Conor will do a great job leading the Community Stewardship Program and we are glad to have him aboard! Make sure to say hi when you see Conor around the headquarters and out on the trails!

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!