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!

 The sun sets behind a row of trees in a hay field in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.  Summer.

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!

Long Distance Hiking in Plymouth? You bet...

By Director of Land Protection, Scott MacFaden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Malcolm introduces us to Pinnacle Hill (Part I)

Malcolm introduces us to Pinnacle Hill (Part I)

Outlook toward Great South Pond (Part I)

Outlook toward Great South Pond (Part I)

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

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

Cherry Pond Valley (Part I)

Cherry Pond Valley (Part I)

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

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

Traversing through open woodland (Part II)

Traversing through open woodland (Part II)

The Part II Crew (minus Scott) at Frogfoot Reservoir

The Part II Crew (minus Scott) at Frogfoot Reservoir

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

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

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

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

Welcome 2017 Seasonal Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deer Ticks: One Bite Can Change Your Life

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

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

Brockton Envirothon Team Storms Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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