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Walk around Flat Brook

Nancy and Byron Stutzman sharing information about American chestnut they planted on their woodland.

Nancy and Byron Stutzman sharing information about American chestnut they planted on their woodland.

Over twenty landowners and others joined Byron and Nancy Stutzman to walk their woods and learn about some of their stewardship practices on the woodland in Ware and Hardwick. They’ve been working on improving the forest health, diversifying the species and improving access. Several timber sales over the past decade have improved spacing and the quality of remaining trees. The next timber sale will focus on removing white ash in the northern area of the property. White ash is threatened by the emerald ash borer, and many trees are already suffering from a general decline that is afflicting white ash throughout the area.

The Flat Brook flows through the property. The beaver have left their mark along the waterway, by plugging up the culverts and cutting many trees. A large beaver dam is found on the eastern edge of the large ponded area. Great blue herons are using several of the standing dead trees for their nests.

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A Great blue heron nest is just visible above the tree line in the middle of the pond.

This walk was co-sponsored by the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership, North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership, Massachusetts Tree Farm Committee and the East Quabbin Land Trust.

Bloodroot blooming near the edge of the pond part of Flat Brook.

Bloodroot blooming near the edge of the pond part of Flat Brook.

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The 2015-2016 Americorps MassLIFT members during one of the training sessions.

The East Quabbin Land Trust is excited to announce that it’s hosting an Americorps MassLIFT Youth Education Coordinator for the 2016 – 2017 session. This will be our seventh year hosting a person dedicated to providing service and educational opportunities to youth throughout our area. Click here if you’re interested in more information.

Becky and Bill picking up brush along Church Street during the Saturday workday at the Frohloff Farm.

Becky and Bill picking up brush along Church Street during the Saturday workday at the Frohloff Farm.

The dedicated volunteer crew didn’t give up despite the periodic rain showers on Saturday. Thanks to Becky, Paul, Owen, Jason, Denis, Josh, Bill, Darrell and Cynthia so much work was done in four short hours. Everyone who passes by the Frohloff Farm on Church Street in Ware will benefit from their tremendous efforts.

Seven bags of trash (plus other stuff) were gathered along this stretch. We were amazed at how many recyclables and returnables were blithely tossed out the window! Hopefully travelers will notice the difference and wont toss their unwanted items any more!!

The biggest difference people will notice are the walls exposed by cleaning out the brush and downed limbs. Several small dead trees were also removed. This summer animals will graze in the field closest to the road so travelers will get to experience the farm a little bit closer than before. One of the key reasons for conserving this property was to revitalize the farming and build a healthy farm. Each year this vision comes closer to reality!

Darrell, Josh and Paul are clearing unwanted brush away from the stone wall lining Church Street.

Darrell, Josh and Paul are clearing unwanted brush away from the stone wall lining Church Street.

Also, the final step in creating the burn breaks along the bluff were completed. Jason, Owen and Cynthia did the final step of raking out the three-foot line the forms the perimeter for the prescribed burn. Some time in May or June an eight acre area along the Ware River and former railroad bed will be intentionally burned. The goal of burning off the leaf and duff layer is to provide a quick flush of nutrients for the surviving vegetation and help to control unwanted vegetation. In this area there are lots of common buckthorn growing, which is an invasive plant. Plus white pine will take over if not kept in check. The pitch pine and sandplain grasses growing in the area will be stimulated and hopefully will expand the number of plants because of the burn. This is another step in our wildlife habitat management plan began several years ago with the removal of twenty acres of trees and multiple treatments to control invasive plants.

 

Wendemuth Kiosk Installed

Harrison looking out one of the kiosk windows. Thank you Harrison for your hard work designing and building the kiosk.

Harrison looking out one of the kiosk windows. Thank you Harrison for your hard work designing and building the kiosk.

This summer we will install more interpretive features at Wendemuth Meadow. The first step happened yesterday with the installation of a kiosk on the old grain silo site next to the barn, at 25 Bates Street, North Brookfield. Harrison and his able crew did a tremendous job designing and building this kiosk. Thank You!! Be sure to investigate during your next time to Wendemuth.

The interpretive trail and brochure that links Wendemuth with the Town Forest Park is still in production, but should be completed by mid-summer. Just in time for the North Brookfield Youth Center summer camp, which is partially hosted at Wendemuth this summer.

The view from inside the kiosk looking over the wet meadow and hay fields beyond.

The view from inside the kiosk looking over the wet meadow and hay fields beyond.

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The 6 x 8 kiosk sits on the old silo foundation, welcoming visitors to Wendemuth!

Discovering Thoreau

Eagle Hill School students and their teacher looking at frog eggs in Fish Brook.

Eagle Hill School students and their teacher looking at frog eggs in Fish Brook.

A dozen students from Eagle Hill School spent yesterday exploring the Coxhall Kitchen Garden and Deer Park Preserve as part of their year-long exploration of Thoreau’s writings. The group did a variety of things, including building a human-sized bird nest as a piece of installation art, collecting freshwater insects from Fish Brook with Lee McLaughlin, a fisheries biologist, looking at scat and an owl pellet along the trails, and observing nature as Thoreau might have done.

It was a beautiful day to be outdoors!

Building a kiosk to install in Wheelwright at the rail trail entrance.

Building a kiosk to install in Wheelwright at the rail trail entrance.

This week, while the schools were out of session, many students were busy helping the East Quabbin Land Trust with a variety of stewardship projects.

Raking out the burn break in preparation for the prescribed burn at Frohloff Farm near the Ware River.

Raking out the burn break in preparation for the prescribed burn at Frohloff Farm near the Ware River.

  • We continued working on the loop trail along the Ware River in Wheelwright,
  • We pulled and cut invasive plants along the Rail Trail,
  • We started construction of two kiosks, to be installed this spring,
  • We raked out the firebreak at Frohloff Farm in preparation for the prescribed burn.

Thank you to all the students for their hard work and dedication! Izzy, Emma, Will, Emily, Lauren, Kayla, Sadie, Nathan, and Kyle.

Wendemuth walls exposed

Clearing brush from the wall along the wet meadow. Thanks to Harbour, Alan, Rod, Linda, Reshma, Devon, Doris, Brandon, Janine, Tate, Jason, Dick, Becky, Harrison and Cynthia

Clearing brush from the wall along the wet meadow. Thanks to Harbour, Alan, Rod, Linda, Reshma, Devon, Doris, Brandon, Janine, Tate, Jason, Dick, Becky, Harrison and Cynthia

Because of the great volunteer efforts yesterday we got a lot more walls cleaned up – both inside and outside.

One group hauled trash from the barn – broken bricks, old wood, empty used bags, and various odds and ends. The 15 yard dumpster filled right up! Now the lower level is virtually cleared out, and the front section is ready for summer campers. The East Quabbin Land Trust is partnering with the North Brookfield Youth Center summer camp program for six weeks of camp. The field component will be at Wendemuth Meadow on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. We’re very much looking forward to having the campers and their counselors explore Wendemuth and the Town Forest this summer!

A second group got right to work cutting brush back from the rock wall on the far side of the wet meadow. It’s great to start the growing season with last year’s growth removed, keeping the wall clearly visible from the barn and Bates Street. Creating that break in bigger vegetation is also important for the prescribed burn scheduled for May. We are going to burn the wet meadow – almost 5 acres – to help control invasive plants and reinvigorate the native plants. Burning the thatch will provide a surge of nutrients to the plants, making the meadow even greener than before. We are keeping track of what is growing now and will monitor changes over time.

Reshma and Devon hard at work along the edge of the wet meadow cutting back a red maple that re-sprouted last year.

Reshma and Devon at work along the edge of the wet meadow cutting back a red maple that re-sprouted last year.

A sampling of native pollinator homes made during our hands-on workshop.

A sampling of native pollinator homes made during our hands-on workshop.

Native pollinators come in many shapes and sizes. Sunday afternoon we spent some time building structures for the tube dependent kind. Species like the Blue Orchard Mason, Grass Carrying Wasp, Metallic Green Bee, or Leaf-cutter Bee.

20160320_144234webWe created wood structures that can protect the tunnels or tubes from moisture, and then filled the space with logs or boards with holes drilled 4″ – 5″ deep of varying diameters. In between we used dried pieces of Japanese knotweed because it is hollow in the center. A participant pointed out that the pith of sumac can be removed to make a hollow. Plastic straws may also be useful. Whatever you have on hand that allows the bee or wasp to go into the hollow, but also has a closed end.

20160320_144222Thanks to all that came, worked hard and walked away with a piece of habitat that can be shared. If you want to make your own pollinator house, there are loads of ways to do it, but the recommendation is to hang or position your structure facing east or southeast so the insects are warmed by the morning sun!

The woodcocks are back and searching for mates. Listen to this one as he’s calling. You can listen for woodcocks at the Frohloff Farm, down by the river near dusk.

American Woodcock

American Woodcock

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The group resting by a pitch pine that was released from competition of white pines.

The cool air temperatures didn’t matter much once we got hiking to the Hyde Woodland Preserve yesterday. After a quick ride in the back of the pickup truck we hauled chain saws, hatchets, water and snacks up the slopes of the Dougal Range. Fortunately Chris and Brian had already marked the trees they wanted girdled, and many more that ideally would be cut down.

Thanks to Michael, Renee, Dicken, Jason, Brian and Kelsey we girdled over a dozen large white pine, several multi-stemmed trees. These pines had crowded out the pitch pine along the slope near Old Stagecoach Road. It will take a year or more for those trees to die fully, but once they do so, then the pitch pines will have more light, nutrients and water to sustain their growth. We know from Brian’s investigations over the past few years, there are several rare or threatened moth species that use pitch pine in the area. We want to make sure those invertebrates continue to find pitch pine on the southwestern slopes of the Dougal Range.

The other half of our group set out on the other side of the Hyde Woodland Preserve to begin laying out a walking trail that will provide easier access to Muddy Brook. The trail layout will continue over the coming months. Starting this fall, we hope to begin work clearing the trail off of Old Gilbertville Road. Thanks to Dean, Rick, Jaye and Dave for their work starting this process!

A close up of the end result where the bark was removed all the way around a white pine, down through the cambium.

A close up of the end result where the bark was removed all the way around a white pine, down through the cambium.

 

 

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