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Beautiful Bloodswamp

Hikers taking a quick break along the edge of Bloodswamp on the Barre/Rutland/Oakham town line

Yesterday morning we got an early start, well early for weekend standards, on a three mile hike along Bloodswamp which is located in the corner of Barre, Oakham and Rutland. This whole area is part of the Ware River watershed land owned by the Commonwealth. The 25,000 acres were originally taken from the villages of West Rutland, Coldbrook Springs and White Valley to supplement the drinking water supply of the Wachusett Reservoir for homes in the greater Boston area. The aqueduct connecting the Ware River to Wachusett Reservoir was finished in 1931. Just two years later the aqueduct connecting the Quabbin Reservoir to Ware River was finished. For the most part, water from the Quabbin Reservoir flows through the aqueduct. Water from the Ware River is principally a back-up source.

The beavers are keeping the area flooded. Trees that filled the valley are now standing dead amid a variety of wetland plants. The great blue herons are nesting in a half dozen trees in Bloodswamp.

New England Blazing Star

We also saw a rare liatris, the New England Blazing Star which is a species of special concern. The beautiful purple blooms were found along Pine Plains Road in disturbed areas near the dikes.

Three dikes were part of the loop hike. While it’s not confirmed, the assumption is that these dikes were built to increase the capacity of the Barre Falls Dam during flooding episodes. The Barre Falls Dam was authorized in 1941 after severe flooding in the Ware River valley in 1936 and 1938. The dam and dikes were finished in 1958 and have the capacity to hold back 7.9 billion gallons of water. In 1987 there were four or five days of rain and the dam was closed and saved downstream communities from certain flooding. Over 5 billion gallons of water was slowly released from the valley after the storm system.

 

Fun at the Fair

Harry is relaxing a moment before the Fair gets rolling on Saturday morning.

Saturday was a beautiful day on the Hardwick common for the 252nd Annual Hardwick Community Fair. Friday night was cool, but the temperature and brief shower didn’t deter folks from coming out to the common. The Fair was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new neighbors. This year we had a wide variety of tee shirt colors to choose from and plenty of Preserve maps to share! If you didn’t make it this year, be sure to put it on your calendar for 2015. A good time that shouldn’t be missed!!

The target was hit and the seat released as this dunkee heads for the water!

Wet walking

Hikers with Pottapoag Pond behind us.

The forecast for Sunday was 50/50 rain throughout the day. Possibility for scattered thundershowers too. You just couldn’t tell exactly what was going to happen. We were all prepared for rain and hoping for a dry walk.

A group of twelve intrepid hikers started on the second phase of our east coast of the Quabbin Reservoir hike. It was overcast, but looked promising. We got down to Pottapoag Pond and the parking lot was half full. Lots of fishermen or women were out on the water trying their luck. Further up the road towards Dana Common we could see a boat out on the water, cruising towards a favorite fishing hole.

Looking northwest over the Quabbin Reservoir

Then the rain came. Softly at first, but then buckets. By the time we made it to the Dana Common, five miles from where we started, everyone was soaked. The rain stopped and the sky brightened as we looked at the historical photos and discussed the lost villages of the Quabbin. The foundations and stone steps were left intact, clearly delineating where a house, store or school once stood.

At the kiosk at Gate 40 at the end of the hike.

From there we walked out to Gate 40 and headed home to warm up and dry off. A beautiful and wet Sunday morning walking the Quabbin.

We’ll take the stretch from Gate 40 to Gate 37 on Sunday, September 21, a seven mile walk. All are welcome to join on for this segment that will go back through the Dana Common and over Fever Brook.

The Festival is tomorrow beginning at 3pm. Come join us for lots of fun on the Petersham Common and raise money to repair and paint the store!! Kids games all afternoon, potluck dinner, silent auction and white elephant tables all await. Plus the 20 foot climbing wall is calling you to make the climb.

Also at 5pm the live auction will begin. Join the fun! Here is a sneak peak at live auction items:

Live Auction: Lots #1 – 13
The July 26 Live Auction begins at 5:00 pm on Petersham Common.
Join in and watch for further details of live auction items listed below.
1.  7 Days & Nights at Lake House in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire.
For up to 10 people > min. bid:  $1,000
Bordering on the White Mountains National Forest Sandwich Range. The property sits on secluded Lake Dinsmore with its own swimming dock. The village of Sandwich on Squam Lake is nearby. Bring your equipment for swimming, fishing, hiking, skiing, kayaking, and canoeing. Fully equipped house sleeps 10 total, 8 on beds. Dates to be arranged at mutual convenience in 2014–2015. Value: $2,500.   Visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_Sandwich,_New_Hampshire
Donor:  Sarah Selden
2.   “Day in the Life of a Reporter” with Award Winning Journalist David Boeri.
Enjoy an insider visit to Marathon bombing suspect Tsarnaev Federal Court trial in Boston in 2014–2015. Date to be selected by David Boeri and the winning bidder.
Donor:  David Boeri
3..   Original Watercolor “Road Trip, Petersham Country Store” by Sheila Youd.
A fine piece by this Petersham artist. Professionally framed.
Donor:  Sheila Youd
4.   Original Nichewaug Inn Wooden Rocking Chair.
Acquire a piece of authentic Petersham history. The forest green wicker-seated rocker was once on the front porch of the Inn over looking the Petersham Common and the North Common Meadow ​G​olf ​C​ourse. The rocker was secured years ago by local historian and archive collector, Larry Buell.
Donor:  Larry Buell
5.   Handcrafted Stone Garden Sculpture.
Highly regarded Barre sculptor Jason Benoit creates beautiful stone pieces for garden and lawn settings.
Donor:  Jason Benoit
6.   Make Your Own Salsa.
Guaranteed delicious fun joining local cook Linda Paquet learning to make your own Salsa. For two people. In Linda’s kitchen on West Road, Petersham. Take home 6 jars of freshly made salsa. Date and time to be coordinated between winning bidder and donor.
Donor:  Linda Paquet
7.   Yard Work. Three (3) Hours of Fall or Spring Cleaning.
Raking, pruning, and clean up by Jack and Clay Richardson of Petersham. These two hard working high school brothers will provide the smarts and brawn to fulfill your directions and needs for your seasonal clean-up. Could also make a good gift for a loved one who could use extra help. In Petersham and immediate 10 mile area.
Donor:  Clay & Jack Richardson.
8.  Basketball Stand & Hoop by Lifetime.
Excellent condition. Ready to roll for lots of fun! With basketball.
Donor:  Patrick Hinton
9.   Twilight Kayaking at Tully Lake, Royalston.
There is nothing like kayaking on the beautiful water of Tully Lake, especially at dusk and as twilight settles in – peaceful, magical, and serene and right here in the North Quabbin region. Located at The Trustees of Reservations Tully Lake Campground in Royalston. WInning bid receives kayak rental for four people to enjoy a special evening together.  The kayaks, paddles, and life jackets are all included — just bring yourselves! Certificates must be redeemed by October 2014. Available Sunday through Thursday (non-holidays), 4 PM–dusk.
Donor:  James & Annette Ermini
10.   Discovering a Sense of Place: History with Farmer Lucius Spooner.
Larry Buell of Petersham and his history partner, 1840s Petersham farmer Lucius Spooner, will research a specific place ​you select ​and will share the findings during a walking event with you and your guests at the location. Great for family reunions, organization’s fund raising event, or just time experiencing a special ​place and time.  Value: $125.
Donor:  Larry Buell & Lucius Spooner
11.   Septic Tank and System Cleaning by Petersham Sanitary Service.
Charlie Buell and Ry Parcell will service your septic tank needs. See the services they provide at: www.petershamsanitaryservice.com.  Value: Up to $275.
Donor:  Charlie Buell and Ry Parcell, Petersham Sanitary Service
12.  Cord of Seasoned Firewood from Landscape Nursery.
One cord of dry hardwood split to your dimensions and delivered to your door within close proximty to Petersham by the Dickson Family of Landscape Nursery. The Dicksons usually run out of good firewood well before the heating season, so get yours now!  Value: $250.
Donor:  Garth and Wanda Dickson
13.   One Dozen of Brian’s Homemade Tip-Top Kronuts. More than delicious!
Combined with One Quart of Josh’s fresh 2014 Petersham Maple Syrup Beyond delicious!
Donor:  Brian Miner and Josh Gordon, Quabbn Gate Farm, Petersham

Survey team working along shore of reservoir at the last BioBlitz at the Prince River Preserve

North Brookfield, MA – The East Quabbin Land Trust is excited to announce our second major species inventorying event of the year, this time at the gorgeous and grassy Wendemuth Meadow Preserve at 25 Bates Street in North Brookfield. In order to ready this new preserve for public recreation, and to give residents the opportunity to experience this serene and scenic property, EQLT will be hosting a BioBlitz on Saturday, July 12th.

“A BioBlitz is an intensive one-day survey of biodiversity in a specific area,” says Nate Grady, service learning coordinator for the East Quabbin Land Trust. “This is an especially neat activity as it brings all levels of outdoor enthusiasts – from trained naturalists to people who just like to explore and get a little dirty – together for the common goal of finding and identifying as many creatures as possible.”

Beginning bright and early with a bird walk, we will explore this preserve throughout the morning, as different species become most active. Broken down into small groups, each led by an expert, we will search for all types of plant and animal life:  birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects, spiders, aquatic invertebrates, trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, mosses, mushrooms, and anything else we might find! Everything we find we will attempt to identify and catalogue, so that by the end of the day we have a good cross-section of the life in this preserve!

The survey team finds a porcupine den in an oak tree

At 1pm, we’ll kick back and enjoy a potluck lunch while comparing notes about our most exciting discoveries! If you think you might want join in the fun, or just want more information, email Nate at servicelearning@eqlt.org. Participants are welcome to come for all or part of the day, and people of all backgrounds and knowledge levels are strongly encouraged to join us!

All of this is made possible through the productive three way partnership between the Town of North Brookfield, the Friends of Wendemuth Meadow, and the East Quabbin Land Trust, along with the consistent and irreplaceable support of many local and regional volunteers.

This BioBlitz is the 12th event in the 2014 “Outdoors in the East Quabbin” event series. For more information about this or other volunteer opportunities with EQLT, please contact Nate at servicelearning@eqlt.org, or call the EQLT office at (477) 413-8229.

Join us for the 2nd Annual Country Store Festival Planned for Petersham

Music, Kids’ Games, Potluck Supper, Community Auction to Support Renovations

Silkies up for bid during the 2013 live auction to Restore the Store

(Petersham, Mass.)—On Saturday, July 26, a regional festival to benefit the Country Store in Petersham will kick off at 3:00 pm on Petersham Common with kids’ games, music, yak bingo, live and silent auctions, and more. Hosting the event is the East Quabbin Land Trust (EQLT), which purchased and renovated The Country Store building interior in 2013 with extensive support from the local community. The Store re-opened as a café and local grocery in May 2014 under the management of Ari and Jeanneane Pugliese.

“Last year, hundreds of people attended the ‘Restore the Store’ event,” says Cynthia Henshaw, executive director of EQLT, “Everyone enjoyed a great day and we were blown away by the generosity of everyone that came to support re-opening The Country Store. This year we have a 1:1 matching challenge grant for $15,000 to complete exterior repairs and repainting of the historic building.” A live and silent auction during this year’s festival will feature a wide range of items including seven days and nights at a lakeside home in Sandwich, New Hampshire; original art; and a variety of local services, food items, and gift certificates.

“Just in the past month we’ve witnessed the resurgence of The Country Store as an anchor of community life in Petersham,” says Mick Huppert of Petersham, and EQLT board member. “We want the beautiful building built in 1840 to remain something we can all be proud of. And of course we hope everyone comes on July 26 and has lots of fun.”

The event will feature a great assortment of kids’ activities, including a Peak Adventure climbing wall open from 3:30–5:30 pm, dunk tank, face painting, relay races, obstacle course, Make Your Own Country Store craft table, and much more. A pair of yaks from a Petersham farm will play starring roles in two rounds of Yak Bingo.

The bandstand will carry live music by Jamie Hatch, Liam Regan and friends, along with DJ music with Shawn Legare. A community potluck supper begins at 5:00 pm. Visitors are encouraged to bring a dish and serving utensil to add to the community potluck. The silent auction runs through the afternoon and the live auction begins at 6:00 pm. The movie Frozen will be screened in Town Hall at 7:00 pm.

The festival will be held rain or shine under tents on the Petersham Common and in Petersham Town Hall at 1 South Main Street. A festival schedule, auction catalog, and ticket information for the yak plop raffle will be available at the East Quabbin Land Trust website, www.eqlt.org and on the Country Store’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheCountryStoreinPetersham.

Flowers galore!

The rain held off on Saturday for the benefit garden tour in North Brookfield and New Braintree.  Tour goers had a wonderful time, checking in with the gardeners, learning about their land and plant choices, and even walking away with plants in some cases. The East Quabbin Land Trust is grateful to Genevieve and Glenn, Sarah and Craig, Deb and Lee, Elisabeth and Darrell, Judy and Gene, Suzanne and Tom, Karen and Jan for sharing their wonderful garden spaces!

 

 

 

 

Open for Business

Ken, Nate, Caren and Pattie in front of The Country Store yesterday

Yesterday several East Quabbin Land Trust folks made the short trek to Petersham to enjoy lunch at the newly re-opened Country Store. By the time we arrived Ken Levine had already hung the sign on the column “A Collaborative Project of the East Quabbin Land Trust and the Petersham Community”.  Thank you Ken! A testament to the work and dedication of Petersham residents and the land trust in securing the building and renovating the interior.

Residents and visitors alike have been flocking to the store to have breakfast or lunch and buy a wide variety of groceries. Go check it out for your self!

We are also working on a map and display that highlights local places to walk and get outdoors. More on that in the near future.

Also, join us on the Common for the Country Store Carnival on Saturday July 26th from 2pm through 7pm. This fabulous community event will feature:

  • a huge kids area with climbing wall, obstacle course, face painting, relay races, dunk tank and other family friendly activities,
  • community potluck,
  • live music, and
  • silent and live auction.

Funds raised at the Country Store Carnival will match a $15,000 challenge grant from the Greater Worcester Community Foundation to complete exterior building repairs, such as pointing the chimney, clapboard and trim wood working repairs, and painting the exterior. We hope you will join us on July 26th.

After completing trail work at the Bob Marshall Trail in Petersham

Have you been hearing and reading about all the wonderful things that young people are doing with the East Quabbin Land Trust? Gardening, trail building, kiosk and bridge construction, historical research, computer mapping and more!! Young people are digging into the mission of the East Quabbin Land Trust and making a difference. We are grateful for all their time, energy and enthusiasm.

Our Service Learning Coordinator is an integral part of encouraging youth to get involved with the East Quabbin Land Trust. We’re looking for another bright, engaged college graduate that wants to get some experience in the land conservation and stewardship arena over the next year – and make a difference in their world!

Look under the ‘About Us’ tab for the page on the Service Learning Coordinator position for more information, or click here.

In fact the whole weekend was wonderful. The expected downpours for Saturday cleared by 8am, in plenty of time for the Asparagus and Flower Heritage Festival. What a lovely day on the West Brookfield Common, and enjoyed by thousands.

Ron shares information about trilium and the various species that can be found in Massachusetts

After Sunday lunch a group assembled along Route 122 in Oakham to explore the area, especially a bog in the state forest. Along the way we learned about some of the spring flowers out, listened to an ovenbird singing and found a toad along the trail.

The purple shade from azalea flowers is visible out in the midst of the bog

We broke off the rail trail onto a side path that leads to the bog.  Under water was a circular bowl of mud about a foot and half wide. Turns out that a fish created that area to lay its eggs.  Once at the bog edge a purple haze of native azalea was visible out on the bog platform. The water was too high for the whole group to get out in the midst of the floating mat, but we know what to look for on our next visit.

Sharing good food before the EQLT Annual Meeting

 

The land trust’s 20th annual membership meeting took place later in the afternoon. We shared great food while looking out over to the Quabbin Reservoir to the northwest. Thanks to Rick and Lisa for hosting us. After a brief membership meeting, Lois and Denis Melican shared the story of the Restoration of the American Chestnut. The chestnut used to one in four of every tree in the northeast. A fungus was introduced in early 1900′s which quickly decimated the tree, forever altering our forests. In the past twenty years dedicated volunteers from the American Chestnut Foundation have been intentionally back-crossing chestnuts working to breed a blight resistant tree that largely includes the genes from American chestnuts.

Lois presenting a slide show on the Restoration of the American Chestnut

Eating outside looking towards the Quabbin Reservoir

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