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The group pausing for a picture on the footbridge over Nelson Brook.

The group pausing for a picture on the footbridge over Nelson Brook.

A group of 17 hikers left the parking area at Harvard Forest on Sunday morning to begin the trek down to Tom Swamp. The trail is named after Bob Marshall, a former graduate student at the Harvard Forest and founder of The Wilderness Society (among other professional accomplishments) back in the 1930s. While completing his research, Bob would hike through the woods to his study site. This trail is meant to approximate how he might have gotten down to the Tom Swamp area. Sections of the trail still need approval to formally clear the trail and open it to the public. We traveled across permanently conserved properties along the way, and saw a variety of natural and cultural history pieces too. The humidity made it a challenge, but we mostly walked in the shade under the trees.

One of many piles of moose scat found along the trail.

One of many piles of moose scat found along the trail.

A moose skull. There were many bones found in the area including vertebra, thigh, shoulder and ribs.

A moose skull. There were many bones found in the area including vertebra, thigh, shoulder and ribs.

 

 

 

Parts of an old wood stove are out along the trail. Bob surmised that these are the remains of a stile left-over from Prohibition days.

Parts of an old wood stove are out along the trail. Bob surmised that these are the remains of a stile left-over from Prohibition days.

 

Looking at part of Harvard Pond from the Tom Swamp Road.

Looking at part of Harvard Pond from the Tom Swamp Road.

The shrubs have grown, blocking the view into Tom Swamp, but we tried to see northerly anyway. You could make out a stand of planted red pines  in the distance.

The shrubs have grown, blocking the view into Tom Swamp, but we tried to see northerly anyway. You could make out a stand of planted red pines in the distance.

 

 

 

Signs about Town

signs about townThese signs are out and about in the East Quabbin communities. Don’t miss this great event and all the proceeds goes towards maintenance of the Mass Central Rail Trail and other preserves.

Bring your family and friends to the Station Loop Ramble on Sunday, October 8th!

For full details go to StationLoopRamble.EQLT.org

 

Here's what Holly had to say about the 2016 Station Loop Ramble. Wont you join her on Sunday, October 8th for this year's run and walk events? See you then!

Here’s what Holly had to say about the 2016 Station Loop Ramble. Wont you join her on Sunday, October 8th for this year’s run and walk events? See you then!

 

Caught these hard workers after they cleared the stone wall along the boundary.

Caught these hard workers after they cleared the stone wall along the boundary.

Thanks to the hard work of Harrison, Jeff, Carina, Ann, Becky, Elisabeth, Darrell, James, Richie, Sterling, Jake, Dave and Cynthia, the view from McCarthy Road in North Brookfield is opened up.

These students help clear brush along McCarthy Road and pile fallen branches to clean up the field.

These students help clear brush along McCarthy Road and pile fallen branches to clean up the field.

The Wendemuth Meadow work-day focused on the McCarthy Road end of the property.  The gate was installed, so now the entrance is more inviting to walkers, horse-back riders and bicyclers, AND we can easily access the property for maintenance. New signage at the gate will be ordered!

20170729_095353webMost of us worked to clear the brush from that field. Harrison had brush-hogged much of the area, but there’s a lot of rocks and stumps still, so plenty of work to do with loppers and weed whackers.20170729_095214web Hope you head out to Wendemuth and enjoy the area!

John O'Keefe talking to the Leadership Circle members about the dioramas at Harvard Forest.

John O’Keefe talking to the Leadership Circle members about the dioramas at Harvard Forest.

Yesterday members of EQLT’s Leadership Circle got a guided tour through the newly renovated Fisher Museum at the Harvard Forest in Petersham.  John O’Keefe, retired Museum Director and EQLT member, shared his insights on the changes to New England forests over the past several centuries, the original goal of Dr. Fisher and Harvard University in establishing the Harvard Forest at the beginning of forestry in the US during the early 1900s, and the terrific artistry of the dioramas.

20170625_145115webThere are over 20 dioramas, basically 3′ x 3′ three dimensional depictions of a typical landscape. The first group of them recount the major forest transformations, from pre-colonial woods and the first settlement farms, to the height of agriculture in mid-1800s, farm abandonment and forest regrowth and subsequent harvesting. The sequence ends in 1930 when the dioramas were originally built.

20170625_144310webOther dioramas depict different silvocultural strategies to weed, thin and regenerate New England’s regrowing woods. There’s also a terrific diorama of Harvard Pond. Each diorama is filled with unique details, and a scavenger hunt encourages visitors to look deeply at them all. Where is the squirrel, wood pecker, two jackets on a rock, bee hives, cattails and much more. It’s definitely worth a visit to the Fisher Museum, which is open on weekend afternoons and staffed by volunteers.

The base of the Witness Tree, a 100 year old red oak that is the central character in Lynda Mapes' book Witness Tree

The base of the Witness Tree, a 100 year old red oak that is the central character in Lynda Mapes’ book Witness Tree

We also took a short walk on the grounds to learn a bit more about the current research at Harvard Forest and see the Witness Tree.  The Witness Tree is the central character in a newly published book by Lynda V. Mapes, as she details the forest changes over the past century or so with a particular eye on how climate change is impacting the wooded landscape. The Witness Tree is a fascinating read; and we will be hosting a book discussion this fall and hope to have Lynda join us too.

20170625_155729web

Camping Out!

We collected a lot of downed branches to keep the fire going. The kids even re-kindled the flames in the morning to toast bagels.

We collected a lot of downed branches to keep the fire going. The kids even re-kindled the flames in the morning to toast bagels.

The weather was pretty perfect for our first-ever EQLT sponsored camping trip. This time we slept out at the Coxhall Kitchen Garden. Everyone was impressed with the size of the stone wall enclosure, and amazed that it was built back in 1774 to be a kitchen garden, which was popular back in England at the time.

The day was warm, with a gentle breeze. At one point late in the afternoon the clouds looked a bit threatening, but we didn’t get rained on. The clouds cleared out so we could see the stars, with the big dipper directly overhead. It was a magical experience for the eleven kids who joined in the fun.

20170610_180349webA group of us walked the trail loop – over to Fish Brook, the hay field and overlook ledge. On the way we found a huge mushroom, plenty of scat, lots of animal holes, and a toad! Great fun for all involved. Thank you to all the parents and adults that made this such a successful event. We’ll be planning other local camping opportunities 20170610_175503webin the future!

 

 

 

 

The timber decking on the short I-beam bridge that runs over a farm field access point in the Hardwick section of the Mass Central Rail Trail was showing signs of decay. Mushrooms were growing and several timbers were punky.

With a generous donation from Howe Lumber of new timbers, the dedicated land trust volunteer core set about disassembling the timbers and reinstalling with new Southern Yellow Pine pressure treated timbers. Following are some photos from the two days of work!

Denis, Mark and Becky prepare to remove the railing.

Denis, Mark and Becky prepare to remove the railing.

Becky and Mark work to remove the curbing pieces.

Becky and Mark work to remove the curbing pieces.

John is unscrewing the decking timbers so they can be lifted off.

John is unscrewing the decking timbers so they can be lifted off.

 

 

New decking in place at the end of the first day, thanks to John, Mark, Cynthia, Denis, Becky and Dean.

New decking in place at the end of the first day, thanks to John, Mark, Cynthia, Denis, Becky and Dean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dean, Kane and Mark moving the railing back into place.

Dean, Kane and Mark moving the railing back into place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The I-beam bridge with new decking.

The I-beam bridge with new decking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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