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Biodiversity abundant

Thanks to Dave, Ted, Dan, Scott, Caren, Becky, Nick, Shelby, Gabriella, Nathaniel, Dave, Ruth and Cynthia

Thanks to Dave, Ted, Dan, Scott, Caren, Becky, Nick, Shelby, Peter, Gabriella, Nathaniel, Dave, Ruth and Cynthia for exploring Pynchon’s Grist Mill Preserve this morning!

This morning we spent some time at Pynchon’s Grist Mill Preserve in West Brookfield looking for signs of life. Boy did we find a bunch of stuff! Several plants, insects and mushrooms are yet to be identified, but we were able to greatly expand our species list.

raccoon prints

Raccoon prints along the pond edge

Several youngsters spent some time fishing and caught a yellow perch, pumpkin sunfish, yellow bullhead and saw a large-mouth bass took a great leap out of the water nearby. We also saw raccoon tracks, Great blue heron and wood ducks, and several species of dragonflies and damselflies even though the sun wasn’t out. The full list will be available this week after the data sheets are tabulated.

Dave photographing a damselfly for later identification

Dave photographing a damselfly for later identification

Smashing Saturday Night

IMG_0883The fourteenth annual Dinner and Silent Auction for the East Quabbin Land Trust was held last night, June 27th. The evening was a rousing success, thanks to all who attended, auction item donors and Judith Jones and Nancy Grimes for co-hosting the evening. We especially want to thank our corporate sponsors for their generous contributions.

  • New Harbor Financial Group
  • Pioneer Valley Environmental
  • Dresser and McGourthy LLP
  • North Brookfield Savings Bank
  • Berube Real Estate
  • The Cultural Center at Eagle Hill

IMG_0896The evening included ample opportunity to bid on a diversity of silent auction items, such as vacation packages to the Berkshires, Martha’s Vineyard or Mount Desert Island, furniture, photographs, gardening supplies and antiques. Proceeds from the auction raised over $10,000 in support of our programs.

In addition, we thanked Ann Hicks and Harbour Fraser Hodder for co-chairing the Friends of the Wendemuth group, which successfully raised $50,000 towards conservation of Wendemuth Meadows. This initiative is a great story that features growing community awareness about a special place in North Brookfield, and the multiple years to complete conservation of the land.

Also, Harrison Achilles was honored for his tireless work at Wendemuth Meadow and other EQLT preserves. Through Harrison’s efforts brush and invasive plants are being pushed back from walls, fields and buildings to maintain these properties and welcome visitors. If you haven’t been to Wendemuth Meadow yet, be sure to stop by and walk the loop trail starting at the barn, 25 Bates Street.

IMG_0897We were fortunate to also have a $10,000 matching challenge grant made to dinner participants. Because of that challenge we raised an additional $17,000, plus the $10,000 in support of the East Quabbin Land Trust.

Thank you to all who helped make this a Smashing Saturday Night for the East Quabbin Land Trust.

 

Color festYesterday was a terrific day at the North Brookfield Music, Art and Color Fest sponsored by Statz Sports Bar and Grill!! All proceeds from the event support conservation of Wendemuth Meadow Preserve at 25 Bates Street, North Brookfield. A special thank you goes out to Brandon and Janine for their hard work organizing the event, and the other volunteers that made it possible. Many people, 500+ by some estimates, stopped by Time Out on East Brookfield Road to enjoy the vendors, food, kid’s games, art show, silent auction and excellent music.

Color1The powdered colors started flying after noon and dusting family and friends joining in the fun. Make sure to join us again next summer!

Color2Color3

 

 

 

Landowner stories resonate

Joan and Randy Walker talking with workshop participants in Barre.

Joan and Randy Walker talking with workshop participants in Barre.

This past week there were two opportunities to hear directly from landowners about how conservation of their family lands fit into estate planning. Thank you to Joan and Randy Walker, Frank Patterson and Mick Huppert for sharing their experiences and insights into challenging planning situations.

Fellow landowners from Barre and Oakham heard about the path that Joan and Randy Walker are on to ensure that the farm can remain a vibrant working farm for generations to come. That includes setting the land ownership up in a LLC, creating land-based businesses such as wood processing and grass-fed beef, and conserving a critical 96-acre area of fields and associated woods and wetlands in an Agricultural Preservation Restriction.

Frank Patterson and his siblings were challenged with how to keep the family farm as a working farm after their parents died several years ago. The end result was the sale of the woods to Mass Audubon and the Town of Barre purchased the development rights on the remaining agricultural lands. A private family purchased the house and remaining land. These steps met their goals and allowed the new family to engage in farming.

Mick Huppert shared their family history of moving into Barre and then Petersham over the years. The Hupperts purchased a woodlot with the idea that their daughters might want to move back to town, which turned out not to be part of the younger generations plans. With the new (2011) Conservation Land Tax Credit program possibilities, the Hupperts decided to donate that woodlot and received a Massachusetts tax credit in addition to the federal tax deduction.

These stories include themes of love of the land, responding to parents desires to see the farm continue, and hopes for future generations. By the actions of these three families more land is available for farm and forest management!

Kathy Ruhf, senior project coordinator at Land For Good, also spoke at the session in Barre. Ms. Ruhf has expertise in farmland transfer and farm business succession. A key part of Ms. Ruhf’s remarks shared the collaborative nature of assisting families through these transitions and the importance of starting now!

Thank you to the Barre Senior Center and Fobes Memorial Public Library for hosting these events. Partial funding came from the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation in collaboration with the Barre and Oakham Open Space Committees.

Bobolinks at Wendemuth

20150607_083400webupA great crew of volunteers monitored the bird populations at Wendemuth Meadow this morning. With binoculars strapped around our necks and clipboards in hand, we divided into four groups. Each group took a field or several fields to monitor. That involves choosing a location with good visibility over the area and then watching, listening and recording all birds in the area for fifteen minutes. Once the first station is monitored, the group moves onto the next station.

All told we documented 12-14 pairs of bobolinks using Wendemuth. It’s a bit difficult to get an exact figure because the birds move from one field to another. Regardless, that is a healthy number for a species whose population is declining. The fields at Wendemuth get cut after July4th. Bobolinks nest on the ground, so cutting the hay runs over the nests and kills the young. By delaying the cutting until after July 4th, that gives the bobolink parents enough time to successfully rear their young for the year.

20150607_083423webupOther birds documented on the property include:

  • Tree swallow
  • American bluebird
  • Red-winged blackbird
  • Mourning dove
  • Chickadee
  • Little green heron
  • Barn swallow
  • Common yellow-throat warbler
  • American robin20150607_085902web
  • Catbird
  • Blue jay
  • Chipping sparrow
  • English sparrow
  • Eastern phoebe
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Song sparrow
  • Eastern king bird
  • Baltimore oriele
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • House wren
  • Goldfinch
  • Chimney swift
  • Alder fly-catcher
  • Red-eyed vireo
  • American crow

Fun at the Family Fest

20150606_094316webThe model train was a big hit during the Family Fun Fest at the Mass Central Rail Trail today!! So was face painting, drawing with chalk and hola hooping. Not to mention target shooting with a fire hose.

The Imbier-Monson Farm opened their doors for tours in the morning. Several groups of visitors walked through the barns, got to see the milking machines and named two new calves, just a day or two old.

Many families also walked down the rail trail to see the Ware River. We will leave the story walk up for a few more days so everyone can read about Fancy Nancy’s adventure with delicious cupcakes!!

Thanks to all who helped organize the event and also those who participated!!

Getting a butterfly. Tigers, cats, Spiderman and skeletons also visited the Family Fun Fest!

Getting a butterfly. Tigers, cats, Spiderman and skeletons also visited the Family Fun Fest!

Hooping and dancing were free-form all day long

Hooping and dancing were free-form all day long

Nearly complete

Dedicated volunteers at the end of a long day working on the railing at the pony truss. Thank you Linda, Rod, Bud, Harry, John, Denis and Mark.

Dedicated volunteers at the end of a long day working on the railing at the pony truss. Thank you Linda, Rod, Bud, Harry, John, Denis and Mark.

Today was a fabulous day to be outside. Thank you to Mark, John, Becky, Rod, Linda, Laura, Trevor, Harry, Denis and Bud for spending their day working at the pony truss bridge. This is a dedicated and hard-working crew!

The wind was blowing just enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay and we enjoyed the warmth in the sun. Several kayakers paddled by as we were cutting boards and screwing them into place. We had lunch at the newly installed picnic table by the bridge.

The railings are several steps closer to completion! Today we installed the coated wire mesh and facing boards to hold the mesh to the posts. Now the railings are safe, especially for little kids who like to poke their heads through small spaces. With the wire mesh up none of those are left. Last step is to install the railing cap – 2″x10″ – along the top. It’s all coming together very nicely. Thank you to all who have helped rejuvenate the pony truss into a safe rail trail bridge!

Installing facing boards.

Installing facing boards.

Working on the wire mesh

Working on the wire mesh

Signs of spring

Here are some images of spring, thanks to Brian Miner for sharing several of his photographs taken at Moose Brook Preserve in Hardwick yesterday morning! Chris Buelow lead the group on this loop hike through the rich mesic woods. A sampling of birds sighted or heard include scarlet tanager, veery, rose-breasted grosbeak, black-throated green warbler, hermit thrush and wood thrush. Thank you Chris!!

Eggs in a hermit thrush nest.

Eggs in a hermit thrush nest.

Red trilium

Red trilium

Jack-in-the-pulpit

Jack-in-the-pulpit

Trees identified

Kate Marquis discussing leaf patterns with walk participants.

Kate Marquis discussing leaf patterns with walk participants.

Saturday afternoon was pretty warm, but a gentle breeze off the river kept the black flies away as the group strolled from tree to tree, looking and learning to identify what they saw. Thanks to Kate Marquis, the Mass Service Forester for our region, for leading the walk along the Gilbertville Fitness Trail.

The trail has some unusual tree species present, because of it’s disturbed history and location near the Ware River. Box elder, also know as Ash-leaved Maple, was the first species Kate introduced the group to. The tree is right at the gate as you enter, and is unusual because it has a compound leaf, meaning that there are several leaflets on one petiole. Normally in maples there is just one leaf – though often with lobes and serrated edges.

Red and yellow trilium are found along the Gilbertville Fitness Trail.

Red and yellow trilium are found along the Gilbertville Fitness Trail.

An enormous cottonwood is at the trail bend. The thick and deeply grooved bark makes this tree stand out among all the others. A cottonwood likes its feet wet and often found in areas that frequently flood. There were a number of red trilium, and even a few yellow trillium along the trail for all to enjoy.

We also learned about sugar maple, red maple, silver maple, black cherry, and red oak. Tree identification tags will be installed soon so that all walkers can learn more about the trees along the trail. We hope you enjoy the trail!

Kate with a black cherry.

Kate with a black cherry.

May Festival

Dane, Ann and Harbour standing with the Wendemuth Meadow display at the North Brookfield May Festival

Dane, Ann and Harbour standing with the Wendemuth Meadow display at the North Brookfield May Festival

Yesterday, the center of North Brookfield was a happening place! Tents on the church lawn, people wandering through the library and everyone supporting local businesses. We were there too! Talking about land trust activities, especially things of interest to folks in North Brookfield…. Wendemuth Meadow and the fundraising challenge from a local supporter. Right now, every dollar donated to permanently protect Wendemuth Meadow will be matched, up to $4,000.

Fundraising thermometer for Wendemuth Meadow that will go up thanks to generous supporters.

Fundraising thermometer for Wendemuth Meadow that will go up thanks to generous supporters.

The Friends of Wendemuth group is nearing the end of their fundraising push. They secured $40,000 already. Just another $10,000 to reach their goal of $50,000. Yesterday people dropped 5s, 10s and 20s into the jar, raising over $200 that will be doubled. You can help too by donating now! Use the button on the side bar or go to the Wendemuth page. Thank you!

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