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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!

Railings up!

IMG_4221webThanks to Mark, Bud, Linda, Rod, Trevor, John, Rick, Kianna and Cynthia for their work on Saturday.  The first layer of railings is up! Each piece is custom cut, matching the distance between each post.

There is at least one more work day needed to finish up the railing system. The coated wire mesh will arrive in a few weeks and then we can install the mesh and face boards! We’re thinking Memorial Day weekend is the likely time for a next work day. Please join us if you can!

IMG_4225webIMG_4222web

Thanks to everyone that helped install bluebird boxes at Wendemuth!

Thanks to everyone that helped install bluebird boxes at Wendemuth, Shelby, Rick, Vicky, John, Jane, Mick, Christine, Harbour, Ann, Donald, Brett, Doris, Harrison. Missing from the photo is Dick and Cynthia.

In a matter of an hour 21 bluebird boxes were installed at Wendemuth Meadow yesterday! Many thanks to Harrison for providing all the boxes, hardware and know how to get it done!!

Bluebirds are a declining species in Massachusetts primarily because of loss of habitat, meaning that their natural tree hollows and open fields with lots of insects to eat are in limited supply. Well, Wendemuth Meadow is a perfect place for bluebirds, if there was some place for them to nest. Now there is, thanks to Harrison and the volunteers that installed them.

 

Shelby is screwing in the fasteners.

Shelby is screwing in the fasteners to keep the box snugly on the pole.

Rick is pounding in the pole.

Rick is pounding in the pole for a box along the wetland edge behind the barn.

Most of the crew taking a picture break after lunch.

Most of the crew taking a picture break after lunch.

A huge thanks to the terrific crew of volunteers yesterday! All 52 railing posts and50 pieces of curbing were installed at the pony truss bridge spanning the Ware River between New Braintree and Hardwick! That’s the first and second step to getting the railing completed.

Everyone hopped right on projects, hauling and rearranging the posts, marking and drilling holes, hammering in the bolts, measuring, cutting and lugging the curbing pieces, and of course, ratcheting on the nuts and washers. Adding it all up, we installed 4 bolts per railing post and 4 per curbing piece. That makes 408 drill holes, bolts, washers and nuts to put into place. Plus a lot of sore arms today! There were only a few miscues with a post facing the wrong way or a curbing piece that needed to be reworked. Those were solved and the installation completed.

Ric and Ken working on a curbing piece.

Ric and Ken working on a curbing piece.

The next steps are the railings themselves. People are eager to get back to work and finish the project up, so we are planning to reconvene next Sunday morning, April 19th starting at 9am. Please join us if you’d like to be part of the effort!

Trevor tightening up on the washer and nut for the railing post.

Trevor tightening up on the washer and nut for the railing post.

 

 

Rick is measuring the space for curbing pieces.

Rick is measuring the space for curbing pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a hard days work from lots of volunteers the railing posts and curbing pieces are installed at the pony truss bridge.

After a hard days work from lots of volunteers the railing posts and curbing pieces are installed at the pony truss bridge.

 

Do-si-do and promenade

First thing was to learn some of the basic dancing steps. Here is the promenade with your partner.

First thing was to learn some of the basic dancing steps. Here is the promenade with your partner.

About fifty people (it was hard to tell as people came and went at different times) congregated at the West Brookfield Town Hall to go barn dancing Saturday night. Thanks to Mark LeDoux for teaching the many steps and calling the dances. We worked through circle dances, square dances and contra dances, with lots of smiles and laughter as we made mis-steps or got it right! It was a great evening to meet new people and have fun on the dance floor.

Oh, and the food was excellent! Thanks to the Town of West Brookfield for the use of the great hall for the dance and for all who attended!

Learning how to make a left-hand star. Left-hand and right-hand stars were used consistently in dances all night.

Learning how to make a left-hand star. Left-hand and right-hand stars were used consistently in dances all night.

 

Thanks to the musicians that provided fabulous music to dance with!

Thanks to the musicians that provided fabulous music to dance with!

 

Tracking along…

Mink and Grey squirrel tracks along the river.

Mink and Grey squirrel tracks along the river.

Saturday afternoon was a beautiful sunny time along the rail trail and Ware River. Overnight it was cold so there weren’t any new tracks to find. But the group still identified tracks of skunk, fox, and mink. After debating one set of tracks that crossed over the river, we went round the bend and caught sight of a mink patrolling the far bank! Proof positive of what we were looking at!!

Snow Shoers searching for tracks on Rail Trailweb

Snow Shoers searching for tracks on the rail trail

 

Linda describes the meaning of negative space in a track.

Linda describes the meaning of negative space in a track.

Rail Trail Planning

Rail Trail Info NightEQLT will be hosting a Friends of the Mass Central Rail Trail Information Night occurring on Thursday, March 12, 7-8PM at the East Quabbin Land Trust Office at 120 Ridge Rd Hardwick MA.   This information night is regarding the Hardwick- New Braintree portion of the trail. We are looking for interest from the community to form this group which will meet periodically to discuss trail matters including maintenance days, educational programs, and family events. All ages are welcome. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming part of something that benefits everyone who uses this beautiful stretch of trail, please join us.

If you cannot make it and would still like to be notified about future updates of the Rail Trail Friends group, please contact Shelby Braese at servicelearning@eqlt.org.

Also, save the date! April 12th is our next rail trail workday to begin installing the railing at the pony truss. We’d love to have your help!!

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