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Mark is driving the tractor home after a successful day at the pony truss!

Mark is driving the tractor home after a successful day at the pony truss!

 

We’re pleased to announce that the decking on the pony truss is down, bridging the gap over the Ware River between New Braintree and Wheelwright!! All 160 feet of it. Many thanks to the crew that helped with this last push, including Mark, Denis, Ric, Wyatt, Dane, Jen, Becky, Lucinda, Josh, Ian, Renee, and Dave.

Work at the pony truss will continue in the spring. Other tasks include installation of the railing and curbing. Once that’s done we can officially open the bridge for use!

Becky and Josh rotating and positioning the last couple of decking timbers.

Becky and Josh rotating and positioning the last couple of decking timbers.

Wyatt ratcheting the lag screws with curved washers that hold the timbers in place.

Wyatt ratcheting the lag screws with curved washers that hold the timbers in place.

Beam bridge arrived today

The old wooden beams were removed and new abutment installed. The two bents are left as reminders of the historic bridge configuration.

The old wooden beams were removed and new abutment installed. The two bents are left as reminders of the historic bridge configuration.

 

Repairs to the historic pony truss on the Mass Central Rail Trail continued today, with more scheduled for tomorrow. The new beam bridge was delivered this afternoon, and completes the span back to the rail bed.

Denis and Mark maneuvering a large timber into place.

Denis and Mark maneuvering a large timber into place.

Before the beam bridge could be installed two of the bent cap timbers needed to be replaced. The existing ones were cracked and split. We found lots of tree roots and old tar as we removed the old timbers. Many thanks to Mark and Denis for all their help making these repairs.

The beam bridge segment ready for decking timbers.

The beam bridge segment ready for decking timbers.

Join us 12:30p.m. tomorrow as we lay down the final timbers and secure them to the beam bridge. In the spring we will install the railing and curbing so that the pony truss can be officially opened. We also hope to get the rest of the trail bed heading into Wheelwright finished with stone dust. Be sure to visit the trail often!

Old trees rule the swamp

Caren is explaining some of the unique characteristics of tupelo and why the trees were likely left by colonists.

Caren is explaining some of the unique characteristics of tupelo and why the trees were likely left by colonists.

This afternoon a group of thirty of so weaved along the unmarked trails in the Oakham Wildlife Management Area in search of some of the oldest trees in New England. Black Gum or Tupelo over 400 years old. Ones that sprouted before Columbus set sail!

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An admiring hug!

 

And it was quite an adventure. First along the trails, stopping periodically to talk about other trees and shrubs growing along the way, including white, red, black and scarlet oaks and how you can tell the difference using their leaves. Witch hazel flowers are out and some partridge berry fruits could be found under the leaf litter.

Looking into the canopy

Looking into the canopy

IMG_20141116_141247webThen we headed into the swamp, with warnings about wet boots and hopping from one hummock to another. Everyone made it to the pocket of tupelo trees, growing with hemlocks and red maples. The tupelos top the canopy and have a unique branching pattern so they are easy to spot once you know what to look for.

Many participants are looking forward to making a return trip to admire these old trees another time.

Pulling Knapweed

Digging knapweed at Wendemuth Meadow

Digging knapweed at Wendemuth Meadow

 

Thanks to all the volunteers that helped pull and dig knapweed last Saturday at Wendemuth Meadow Preserve! The front field was weeded, which is a great accomplishment. There is more of course. We are talking about an invasive plant after all. So next spring we’ll ask volunteers to help dig more in other fields!

Knapweed RemovalwebIn the meantime, we’ll also be burning brush piles, clearing brush from stone walls and having a good time reclaiming the preserve. If there is snow, sledding will also be in order! Hope you can join us and bring your family and friends.

Dick Rossman shares the history of how the property came to be protected by EQLT and the Town of West Brookfield.

Dick Rossman shares the history of how the property came to be protected by EQLT and the Town of West Brookfield.

The dedication and official opening of EQLT’s historic gristmill site in West Brookfield was well attended, despite the cold and rainy afternoon. Thirty visitors bundled up and brought their umbrellas as they made the fifteen minute walk starting at the kiosk along Wickaboag Valley Road to the pond on Sucker Brook.

The interpretive brochure was unveiled, which includes stops at the sawmill dam site, white pine weevil life history, Old Baypath Indian Trail background and gristmill information. Pick up your copy of the brochure at the kiosk before walking the site or click here to  print your own copy.

Participants during the Pynchon's Grist Mill site dedication.

Participants during the Pynchon’s Grist Mill site dedication.

Thank you to Dick Rossman from the West Brookfield Historical Commission, Alison Vannah PhD historian, Al Collings from the Lake Wickaboag Preservation Association and Gordon DeWolf from the West Brookfield Conservation Commission for sharing their thoughts about the significance of the property to the community.

More details about Pynchon’s Grist Mill Preserve can be found here.

“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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