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“Big” checks awarded!

Ann Hicks, from the North Brookfield Conservation Commission, along with state representatives at the grant award ceremony.

Ann Hicks, from the North Brookfield Conservation Commission, along with state representatives at the grant award ceremony accepting the “big” check to the Town of North Brookfield.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced yesterday its grant recipients for the Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grant program and Conservation Partnership grant program. Fortunately, two East Quabbin Land Trust conservation efforts underway were among those projects supported!

Wendemuth Meadow has been a joint conservation effort between the East Quabbin Land Trust and the Town of North Brookfield since the land first came on the market four years ago. After years of negotiations and strategizing about how to conserve the land, EQLT and the Town agreed that the land needed to be purchased from its former landowners and the Town would pursue a LAND grant to purchase a conservation restriction on the 30 acres of fields and wet meadow. Now we know that the Commonwealth has awarded the Town of North Broofield the grant that will cover 70% of the conservation restriction value!! Local fundraising efforts have already raised $15,000 towards the remainder of the cost.

Conservation Partnership Grant big check acceptance webThe East Quabbin Land Trust received a Conservation Partnership grant to cover a portion of transaction expenses for the donation of a conservation restriction on 20 acres in west Hardwick. With this funding and other grants, the East Quabbin Land Trust can move forward with conservation of the land which includes part of Canterberry Brook and upland forest soils.

Starting at Gate 37.

Starting at Gate 37.

Back in April we started hiking along the eastern shore of the Quabbin Reservoir at the lookout tower in Belchertown. During four separate Sundays we’ve made it to the northern end at Gate 31 in New Salem! While it was cold and blustery, there was no rain this time. In fact this hike might have been the most scenic section – with tremendous views from Soapstone Mountain and a long stretch running along the water. Here are some photographs to give you a taste of what we saw.

 

 

 

 

West branch of Fever Brook

West branch of Fever Brook

 

Looking into a soapstone quarry at the base of the mountain.

Looking into a soapstone quarry at the base of the mountain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from the top of Soapstone Mountain.

View from the top of Soapstone Mountain.

Sculpture on the mountain.

Sculpture on the mountain.

Hiking on the woods roads.

Hiking on the woods roads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the shore of the reservoir.

At the shore of the reservoir.

 

Finishing at Gate 31.

Finishing at Gate 31.

 

 

Shelby welcoming participants at the Gilbertville Fitness Trail opening

Shelby welcoming participants at the Gilbertville Fitness Trail opening

After a week of rain the Ware River was full! At least two kayakers paddled their way through the rapids near the Main Street bridge over the river in Gilbertville while a group of twenty officially opened the Fitness Trail.

Shelby, EQLT’s Americorps Service Learning Coordinator, welcomed participants to the site. Creation of the fitness trail began last year in response to a call for proposals from Baystate Mary Lane Hospital for projects that improve the health and well-being of our community members. This was a joint effort between Baystate, the Town of Hardwick Conservation Commission and the East Quabbin Land Trust. Nate took the lead on pulling the pieces together last year, which culminated in getting the stations installed over the summer.

Cutting the ribbon!

Cutting the ribbon!

Last month, Shelby lead a work day to continue clearing brush and vegetation from the trail. Work on the trail bed will continue in the spring to fix some of the problem areas that are wet or eroded.

Fit trail opening11Visitors are encouraged to enter the trail at the yellow and blue gate on Main Street opposite the Hardwick House of Pizza. Walk along the trail for several hundred yards along the river and the trail will head upslope and connect with the rail trail bed. The ten fitness stations are spaced along a half-mile section of the rail trail. Fit trail opening1Some of the exercises are: calf stretch, hamstring stretch, bent knee hang, sit ups, leg raises, body raise, reverse pull up, and balance walk. Fitness information and heart rate checks are sprinkled through the stations to encourage healthy exercise.

On Halloween bring the kids down in their costumes from 4pm until 6pm to explore the trail and try the fitness stations. A volunteer will be at each location to help with the activity and provide a treat!

5-mile road and trail race

The Station Loop Ramble registration desk. Thanks to Sarah and Trish for helping the runners get registered!

The Station Loop Ramble registration desk. Thanks to Sarah and Trish for helping the runners get registered!

Today we hosted the third annual Station Loop Ramble 5 mile road and trail race in New Braintree. The fog burned off as the runners started to arrive. By race time it was getting warm and extra layers were coming off. The runners took off at 10am from the former New Braintree train station site, heading up West Road. The first mile split times were shouted out as the runners made it up the first hill on their way to Unitas Road. The flat fast finish along the Mass Central Rail Trail brought the runners back to the start. Here are a number of pictures from the race. Check out our Facebook page to see more images.

Getting ready to start the race at the starting line.

Getting ready to start the race at the starting line.

 

 

They're off!

They’re off!

 

 

 

Congratulations to the first finisher!

Congratulations to the first finisher!

 

 

Maureen is the first female finisher. Congratulations!!

Maureen is the first female finisher. Congratulations!!

 

 

Waiting for the race results.

Waiting for the race results.

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Thank you to our race sponsors!

Rose 32 Bread

Country Bank

Hardwick Kilns

The Murphy Group Realtors

Hardwick Sugar Shack

R.N. Glidden Landscaping

Reed’s Country Store

Hannafords

Stillman’s Farm

IMG_20141011_090143web   Although it rained all morning, supporters of The Country Store building project and store came to the Petersham Common. We shared hot coffee and goodies under the tent. Many thanks to Larry and Rich for putting it up because we needed the cover.

IMG_20141011_102812webOne year ago, we were still working on the building purchase details. Today, the interior renovations are completed and the store is successfully leased to Ari and Jeanneane Pugliese. It is terrific to have The Country Store open again and offering local food and products as part of the mix. Work on the building exterior continues.

Sheila with her great pumpkin

Sheila with her great pumpkin

Today was also the great pumpkin weigh-in for the Petersham Grange and Library Book Sale. People came and went spreading good cheer across the common.

Charles and Ry with their great pumpkin

Charles and Ry with their great pumpkin

Josh and Ellen with their great pumpkin

Josh and Ellen with their great pumpkin

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Clearing brush along the fitness trail

 

Today volunteers worked at the Gilbertville Fitness Trail – painting the gate, clearing brush at the entrance and along the trail, and making the trail more inviting. The ten fitness stations were installed along the former railroad bed over the summer. The stations include various stretches and strength exercises, often two exercises at each station.

Great progress was made and the trail is nearly ready for the official opening on Saturday, October 25th at 2pm. The welcoming signs along Main Street will be installed in the coming weeks. Please take a walk and explore the fitness equipment and the Ware River! If driving you can park at the New Furnace Landing with the gazebo, and if you are walking the trail begins at the yellow and blue gate opposite the Hardwick House of Pizza.

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Shelby, Peter and Angelica working on the brush clearing.

Shelby, Peter and Angelica working on the brush clearing.

 

The Wheelwright end of the Mass Central Rail Trail was the focus of the trail clearing crew yesterday afternoon.  Because that end has fewer large trees and two sections of track were laid to the approach of the mill, the small trees and brush had taken full advantage of the sunlight. Thanks to Angelica, Peter, Shelby, Tom, Bruce, Mark and Cynthia great progress was made – the first several hundred feet are now ready to have the ties removed and trail graded.

Several weekends ago the trail clearing was started at the pony truss heading to Wheelwright. After another session of trail clearing the two should meet in the middle!

Tom and Bruce working on the overhead branches and brush along the rail trail.

Tom and Bruce working on the overhead branches and brush along the rail trail.

 

Monarch butterfly on a red clover at the Wheelwright entrance to the Mass Central Rail Trail.

Monarch butterfly on a red clover at the Wheelwright entrance to the Mass Central Rail Trail.

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Bob sharing information about the Swift River Reservation during our hike.

 

Today a group of folks from all over the east Quabbin region converged on the Swift River Reservation to see the sights and walk a few miles through the woods in Petersham.  Bob Clark treated us all to stories about the property – who used to live there, why there was a dam along the Swift River, how the property came to be protected and trails created. It was a real treat.

There were a few wildlife sightings, including some good sized brook trout and a bald eagle soaring northward up the valley. Beaver and porcupine left signs of their work in various locations along the trails. We witnessed evidence of the 1938 hurricane which blew most of the trees down. Did you know that there was 18″ of rain in Petersham from that hurricane?

We encourage you all to take a trip to the reservation and explore part of Petersham when you have time!

Fall colors are starting to appear in the Swift River valley.

Fall colors are starting to appear in the Swift River valley.

The Swift River

The Swift River at low summer levels

Hiking the Quabbin

Hikers at the monument on Dana Common.

Hikers at the monument on Dana Common.

 

Today our long-distance hiking group walked about nine miles progressing along the east coast of the Quabbin Reservoir. We started at Gate 40, passing through the Dana Common, stopping to read the memorial marker that is covered with lichen. The rain held off, but the grass was wet and periodically the trees shed their water. Fortunately rain coats weren’t required today!

View of the Quabbin Reservoir at the end of Camels Hump Road looking out at Leveau Island.

View of the Quabbin Reservoir at the end of Camels Hump Road looking out at Leveau Island.

After visiting Dana Common we climbed north along Whitney Hill Road and then walked down Camels Hump Road to the reservoir. Stone walls and empty cellar holes followed us along the way. There was one area with a handsome curved wall marking a special spot for prior residents.

Down at the shore we sat for an early lunch. Two loons and another diving duck were spotted, along with two fishermen in a boat. A beautiful location for lunch!

dam at Fever Brook

The breached dam on the east branch of Fever Brook

After retracing our steps for a couple hundred yards we found the unused road to Rattlesnake Hill. At the bottom we crossed the east branch of Fever Brook, just below the dam. Some of the stones in the dam were huge. This would be a great spot on a hot summer day!

Though the wildlife sightings were sparse, probably because we were talking too much to possibly sneak up on any unsuspecting birds or mammals, the scenery was wonderful. We encourage you to explore the area yourself.

The fourth and final segment of the east coast hike will be on Sunday, October 26th. We will meet at Gate 31, then carpool back to Gate 37 to start the hike. The walking distance is approximately seven miles. Please join us! If you have any questions contact Cynthia at chenshaw@EQLT.org or 413-477-8229.

Clearing crew just starting to open the trail, and the pony truss is visible in the distance.

Clearing crew just starting to open the trail, and the pony truss is visible in the distance.

 

It was hot and humid yesterday out along the Ware River. With an early start our crew of dedicated volunteers made huge progress at the rail trail.

The first wave of trail clearing removed all the brush for half the distance from the pony truss to Wheelwright. Next step is to remove the old ties and then continue pushing back the brush and trees to widen the usable space along the trail.

 

Bridge decking timbers are fully installed on the new beam bridge section and more were delivered onto the pony truss ready for the next work day. If you are available next Saturday, please come help continue the great work begun to open the rail trail to Wheelwright.

The beam bridge getting ready for new decking.

The beam bridge getting ready for new decking.

Dropping off new decking timbers.

Dropping off new decking timbers.

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