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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.

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