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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.


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.

The land trust and Hubbardston-Ware River Nature Club hosted an evening titled “Moths and Munchies” last night to introduce the world of moths. With a full living room Wendy Howes and Brian Klassanos shared a bit of their passion for watching night fliers. Turns out that we are at the end of the season, so it’s not surprising that only a few varieties of moths came out to the lights. Also, there are many, many moth species. Taking a photograph, then zooming in is a great way to see the rich detail in their wing patterns and body structures. Here are a few samples with moths on white sheets.


There were munchies too!

There were munchies too!

moth1moth2 moth3 moth4 moth5

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.

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