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Chris Buelow orienting the group, while Rick and John look on.

Chris Buelow orienting the group, while Rick and John look on.

Chris Buelow, a restoration ecologist with the Mass. Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, lead a walking tour of the recent barrens restoration project along Muddy Brook. As Chris explained, the recent land use – woods with lots of the ubiquitous White Pine – of the area was really different from the past 8,000 years. Various scientists are fleshing out the historical land uses by studying the charcoal patterns (which shows how often fires occurred) and the pollen history. With these two pieces of information, they know that there was a band of pine barrens running north-south through Ware and Hardwick that is now part of the Muddy Brook corridor stretching into the Quabbin Reservoir Pottapaug Pond area.

A map of the riparian inland barrens in Hardwick. The area outlined in white was treated in 2016. The red area will be treated in 2018

A map of the riparian inland barrens in Hardwick. The area outlined in white was treated in 2016. The red area will be treated in 2018

Chris explained that the restoration is happening in several phases, with the second part to happen this spring. The clearing work and prescribed burn that happening in 2016 has already produced great results. There are globally rare plants and moths and other species that need this type of habitat that can now be found in Hardwick! The public is invited to visit the property, be sure to bring your binoculars and field guides as you explore the barrens. Remember, please keep your dogs on a leash and pick up after them. And check for ticks.

The group looking at native lupine that is re-surging after the habitat treatment.

The group looking at native lupine that is re-surging after the habitat treatment.

Muddy Brook curving through the valley

Muddy Brook curving through the valley

Bird's foot violet, one of the rare plants that now can be found because the growing conditions are favorable.

Bird’s foot violet, one of the rare plants that now can be found because the growing conditions are favorable.

Below are a smattering of photographs from the fabulous dinner and auction fundraiser held last Saturday. There are so many people to thank – corporate sponsors, auction item donors, attendees, catering staff, board members, volunteers and donors. The silent auction raised nearly $13,000 in total, and attendees rose to the $20,000 challenge by committing $33,000 more. The East Quabbin Land Trust is on great financial footing for 2018. THANK YOU!

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Getting Ready for Grazing

Lucas and Tom clearing the wall with a beautiful view over the Ware River valley towards Mount Wachusett.

Lucas and Tom clearing the wall with a beautiful view over the Ware River valley towards Mount Wachusett.

Thank you to Becky, Phil, Lucas, Tom, Cynthia and Harrison to their hard work at Mandell Hill. The electric fence line around the llama paddock is cleared. We need to add a few more posts to help keep the wires from grounding out this summer, but otherwise we’re ready to welcome the llamas again.

Harrison also spent time cleaning up the apple trees in the orchard, removing the suckers. That will help them keep their energy growing bigger apples on their strongest branches.

Becky and Phil cutting more brush.

Becky and Phil cutting more brush.

You Value Your Woods

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Over thirty people attended the workshop at the Barre Senior Center to learn more about the Values of their Woods.

Last Thursday evening over 30 people gathered to listen, learn and share information about the values of our woods. A lot of ground was covered in the hour and a half program, and we went away knowing that more woods walks and talks should be offered. Keep an eye out for those opportunities to gather and learn about our woods in the coming months!

As we went around the room people shared their questions, and here are a few of them:

  • What should we do about the growing number of forest pests, like hemlock wooly adelgid or invasive plants
  • Are there ways that we should be managing our woods to help with climate change? Does cutting help or hurt the climate impacts?
  • Can you scale stewardship so that even a few number of acres can be managed?
  • How is wildlife impacted by a harvest? Does the timing during the year matter? What if you have rare or endangered plants or animals on your land?
  • Can a harvest happen and still allow recreational access?
  • How can we incorporate silvopasture in the woods and still harvest?

Ron Rich shared his extensive knowledge about logging, wetlands, and the values of trees. Ron has his own timber harvesting business and is chairman of the Barre Conservation Commission. Also, Ron brought a copy of a Forest Management Plan, a Forest Cutting Plan and harvesting certificate for the audience to review.

LSR-Forum-4.5.18,-Ron-Higgins-webChris Capone, the new Mass. D.C.R. Service Forester for the region, presented an overview of the “current use” property tax programs, Chapter 61, 61A and 61B. A number of landowners were enrolled in these programs, but others were newer to the information. Local landowner Ron Higgins shared his experiences with timber harvesting on his woodlots over the years. He recalled the very first timber cutting that he witnessed on his grandfather’s land left him feeling like cutting was a real mess. “Why would anyone want to do this?” But since then, that property has been cut two additional times, each time the land recovers more quickly and the quality of the trees is improving.

This program was funded through a Landscape Scale Restoration grant from the US Forest Service, through a partnership with the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership and North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership.

Moose and Deer Update

David Stainbrook, program manager for Deer and Moose at MassWildlife, explains changes in moose populations

David Stainbrook, program manager for Deer and Moose at MassWildlife, explains changes in moose populations and limitations around their management

David Stainbrook shared the latest news and updates about Moose and Deer in Massachusetts with over 40 people at the North Brookfield Senior Center Thursday evening. David is the Program Manager for Deer and Moose at MassWildlife. The audience was actively engaged in the presentation, with many questions after each presentation.

We first learned about how moose in Massachusetts are at the southern limit of their range, and the warmer weather adds stress. Besides vehicular accidents, two other factors are impacting the moose population – brainworm and winter ticks. We don’t really know how many moose have brainworm and how it affects their longevity, but the combination of moose and deer living in the same area increases the amount of impacted moose. Further north, where there aren’t deer, brainworm does not appear to impact moose. Similarly, winter ticks don’t survive in areas with snow still on the ground in early April. The winter ticks are a problem because they stay on a moose from the fall through early April, drinking blood the whole time. And when there are 30,000 ticks on one moose, that’s a lot of energy spent feeding ticks, rather than growing. The first reported case of a moose found to have perished because of winter tick infestation was in 2014 in Hardwick. The moose population seems to be fairly stable and currently there is no hunting season for moose in Massachusetts.

David showing the changes in deer population over time in different parts of the state.

David showing the changes in deer population over time in different parts of the state.

Second, David shared population figures about White-tailed deer across the state, which MassWildlife has divided up into 14 zones to track and manage their populations. The target population size is between 6 – 18 deer per square mile. The central and western part of the state are within that range. The eastern part of Massachusetts (basically the I-495 belt easterly) is above that range, with highest concentrations on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, followed by the Cape. The declining number of hunters and limited places where hunting can legally take place are significant factors in the deer population rise over the past two decades. One action that is being proposed is to expand the deer archery hunting season by two weeks in the eastern management zones, thus having 8 weeks of archery hunting. The hope is that more deer will be harvested, reducing their populations.

A full crowd at the North Brookfield Senior Center

A full crowd at the North Brookfield Senior Center

Barn Clean-out

We had a great work-day today, re-stacking wood, sweeping the floors and moving out the unusable wood. Now the center aisle is clear and space is open for the E.T.E.A.M. counselors with the summer camp in 2018. Many thanks to Dave, Harrison, Dave, Don, Sherry, Trish, John, John and Cynthia!

Here we are after a couple hours cleaning out the first floor of the Wendemuth barn.

Here we are after a couple hours cleaning out the first floor of the Wendemuth barn.

Catching John consolidating piles of wood out of the center aisle.

Catching John consolidating piles of wood out of the center aisle.

Sweeping up where a wood pile once was.

Sweeping up where a wood pile once was.

 

 

 

We had a great work-day yesterday at Wendemuth Meadow. It was warm enough to take off jackets even away from the burn piles and the breeze helped fan the flames some of the day. Many thanks to Harrison, Becky, John (and his envirologs), Dave, Trish, Tom, Dave, Malachi, Devin, Harlan and Stavros. The hotdogs and s’mores were good too!

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Happy New Year 2018!

People enjoyed a good evening together, sharing home-made food and stories with friends and neighbors from the East Quabbin region. Be sure to join us next year at this holiday tradition!

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Seeing Double??

Donate to the East Quabbin Land Trust tomorrow,

#GivingTuesday 

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Remember every donation made to the East Quabbin Land Trust for #Giving Tuesday will be DOUBLED until we reach our goal of $10,000.  Enjoy the power of two and make your donation count twice as much as EQLT raises the $50,000 it needs by year’s end.

DONATE NOW

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