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Forty town representatives from all over the East Quabbin region got together on Thursday evening to talk and share ideas about their local bylaws and how to handle to onslaught of proposals for commercial solar developments. The state incentives, currently known as SMART incentives, have pushed a new wave of development. Members of town planning board, conservation commission, solar bylaw committee and selectboard joined in the discussion. If you’d like to participate in the next conversation, which will be targeted towards concerns of Conservation Commissions, please email chenshaw@eqlt.org.

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Our March potluck featured pulled pork, pork ribs, mashed potatoes, garlic bread, roasted vegetables and much more. Lots of great eats for all! Don’t miss our next potluck on April 14th.

Joshua Bruckner from Mass DAR, highlighting the problem of invasive species.

Joshua Bruckner from Mass DAR, highlighting the problem of invasive species. Pictured here are cane toads in Australia, Asian Long-horned Beetle and Kudzu vines in the US

Then Joshua Bruckner, from Mass Dept of Agriculture brought us up to date on the Asian Long-horned Beetle infestation of Worcester. Fortunately, after almost 10 years of working on the problem it seems like the beetles are eliminated, they’re pretty sure. Last year they only removed 16 trees and the quarantine area was not expanded.  But that’s after removing thousands of ash, maple, oaks and other species that were infected. It was so many trees, that whole neighborhoods were transformed. It will take decades for the newly planted trees to grow large enough to provide the shade and habitat that was lost.

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Asian Long-horned Beetle display of adults and larvae, plus samples of trees that were affected.

Invasive species are non-native to the ecosystem. It’s those plants, animals, fungi, and other species that made their way to another part of the world, outside their natural range. In these new areas, these species can cause ecological harm. The really successful invasive species often reproduce quickly, spread easily and grow fast. And it’s the ones that combine all of these characteristics that are the hardest to control.

20190310_182354webFortunately, the Asian Long-horned Beetle doesn’t spread quickly. While the infestation in Worcester was the largest in the US, because it went undetected for a long time, it is possible to eradicate the insects. The Emerald Ash Borer is another story. The borers spread quickly. They’ve already been found across the Commonwealth. There is little we can do but monitor the changes coming to our woods.

 

Kate Hauske, program coordinator, shares the details of the Bird Habitat Assessment project with woodland owners at a session in North Brookfield on February 18th.

Kate Hauske, program coordinator, shares the details of the Bird Habitat Assessment project with woodland owners at a session in North Brookfield on February 18th.

There is a new grant fund for woodland landowners who want to create a Forest Management Plan with Bird Habitat Assessment built right into the document. Promoting wildlife is often a major goal for woodland owners. And there are many things that can be done to actively promote better and diverse bird habitat.

This special grant, funded through the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, in partnership with The Last Green Valley, MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership and Northern RI Conservation District, can fund up to 80 Bird Habitat Plans. Click here to get more information.

The East Quabbin Land Trust plans to apply for funding assistance to complete a bird habitat plan for the Pynchon’s Grist Mill Preserve off Wickaboag Valley Road in West Brookfield. This property includes a section of Sucker Brook where wood ducks are known to nest. The upland white pine stand could use some thinning to increase plant diversity and therefore expand the number of birds that might be on the property.

We had a full house during our February 10th potluck supper. Great food and fun making collages from paste paper with Ann Hicks. Before beginning the project, Ann shared a story about creativity with the students. The story is inserted below, after the picture.

Join us for the March 10th potluck and MEET THE (asian long-horned) BEETLES and other invasive insects.

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The Kid Who “Got” Things

Copyright July 5, 2017, Florence Ann Barrett Hicks

Once there was a kid who “got” things—like the hiccups, or a friend’s corny jokes, or a stomach ache from eating too much. Last summer the kid forgot the rule about the ‘leaves of three’ and got poison ivy.

Well, one day this kid got something really special: the kid got an IDEA. Oh, it was a marvelous idea. It was a sunshine and singing birds kind of idea. It was a jump up and down and yell kind of idea. It was an electric guitar, rock and roll kind of idea. Needless to say it was a very good idea.

Now, what to do with this idea?

“I want to make it!” the kid said. It was just too good an idea to hang around un-made.

So the kid got to work, making one part, making another part and then putting the parts together. By late afternoon it was looking pretty good. It felt pretty good too, and the kid was happy.

Next came homework, dinner, brush teeth, put on pajamas, sleep, dream, wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth again, go to school, learn stuff, go home and “Oh yeah, go see the thing I made!”

But oh. What happened? The thing looked different. Somehow, the bird song, guitar solo, jump up and down idea looked sort of flat and boring.

The kid was sad now, and started to have one of those mopey days where it seemed like everything was going wrong, and there was no way to fix anything.

“What kind of stinky world is this, where good ideas can’t turn real?”

The kid kicked the dirt and pouted some more.

Wouldn’t you know it, before too long the kid’s family started giving advice.

“When something’s got you down, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.”

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

“Face your problems head-on!”

“Discipline is the gift that keeps on giving.”

“All roads that lead to success have to first pass down ‘Hard Work Boulevard’.

Man, they had a million of them.

And then the kid got just a tiny bit angry.

“How can I get to work if I don’t know how to fix it?”

Well, now this is the part of the story where the kid gets an epiphany. Do you know what an epiphany is? It’s an idea—an idea that gives you the answer to a problem.

So the kid got an epiphany. It came out of nowhere. Suddenly the kid knew what to do.

“I don’t have to know how to fix the problem before I start working. I will find the answer BY working! I will try everything I can think of; something’s got to work.”

So the kid started making more parts. And started putting all those parts together in different ways. The kid didn’t stop making things and soon forgot about solving the problem. It was just so much fun making all that stuff. And in the end, the kid didn’t have just one magical thing—there were three—or maybe four if you put them together the other way around.

Now the kid was happy again. Not only for having made some cool things, but for learning a bit about the mystery of creativity.

How does an epiphany work? How can a solution to a problem come out of nowhere? It makes no sense. Well, believe it or not, during all that teeth brushing, dinner eating and sleeping, the kid’s brain was working on the problem.

Did you know that scientists estimate that only 2 to 5 % of our thinking is conscious? While you are doing your daily activities, the unconscious part of your brain, the other 95% or 98%, is often working to solve problems. So making things while letting your brain work out problems is an important part of creativity.

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Chuck cutting down a larger sapling, with help from Jess clearing the brush.

Chuck cutting down a larger sapling, with help from Jess clearing the brush.

Our newest property, the Seven Acre Preserve, is a beautiful agricultural field on North Main Street in Petersham.  20190202_094249webThere is a stone wall running along the road, but has been overgrown with saplings and vines, blocking the view from travelers.

On Saturday a great crew brought their loppers, chainsaws and brush cutters to clear more of the wall. Next time you drive by, slow down and enjoy the view into the field. Many thanks to Rick, Haley, Jess, Tom, Ken, Chuck, Fraser, Mark, John and Cynthia for all your hard work!20190202_112736web

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49252317_227611481499813_4600858118111363072_nwebEQLT held our first Holiday Bird Count this past Saturday, December 29th. We had a beautiful sunny day ahead of us, with nearly 40 eager birders of all ages and experience levels turning out. The day started with an introductory bird identification training session, Bird ID Bingo, and a memory game.
49149553_376276679798184_3171387616390021120_n-(1)webWe began the bird count at the EQLT office, where we saw 5 different species at our feeders, including Tufted Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers, and American Goldfinches. 49079363_2166995946883110_7903095941853347840_nweb49525843_528934230943253_4136499340833193984_nwebWe then split into groups and headed over to Mandell Hill, the Rail Trail, Deer Park, and Frohloff Farm. We were joined by Jeff Smith and Ann Hicks, our two resident birding experts, who led the groups out in the field during the count. A group at Frohloff Farm counted 40 Cedar Waxwings, while the Rail Trail group excitedly reported a Bald Eagle sighting. One group headed to Hardwick Pond, where they counted 45 European Starlings on the way over.
All groups ended the day at Sue and Boz Lincoln’s, who were generous enough to welcome us into their home and onto their property. Their land was rich with diverse birds, including Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Cardinals, and large flocks of White-throated Sparrows. We were treated to aptly-themed homemade cookies after ending our count, courtesy of Sue Lincoln. Jess and Haley totaled up all the bird sightings at the end of the day and submitted the results to the Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count Census. After such a successful turnout for this event, Jess and Haley are thrilled to collaborate with Jeff Smith and Ann Hicks in the springtime to plan another birding event. Thanks to all who came out, and a special thanks to Jeff, Ann, Sue, and Boz for all their help!49081779_1523069244503613_5615944114915770368_nweb

95 European starlings
62 Cedar waxwings
49 White throated sparrows
45 Canada geese
35 American crows
21 American robins
19 Black capped chickadees
17 American tree sparrows
16 Dark eyed juncos
11 White breasted nuthatches
10 Mourning doves
9 Mallard ducks
6 Red tailed hawks
5 Blue jays
5 Northern cardinals
5 Tufted titmice
3 Downy woodpeckers
3 Eastern bluebirds
3 American goldfinches
1 Red bellied woodpecker
1 Song sparrow
1 House sparrow…

And a Bald eagle at a Ware River!

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Happy Holidays to All!

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Harrison and Lou during our toast to all their efforts in building our new garage.

Harrison and Lou during our toast to all their efforts in building our new garage.

Last night we lifted our glasses in thanks and appreciation for those who helped construct our new garage. In particular we thanked the Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School and their lead teacher Louis Zglobicki. They worked through the cold and wind, the hot and humid, to build a strong and resilient garage to house our stewardship team.

We also recognized Harrison Achilles for all his hard work. Essentially Harrison served as the General Contractor, keeping track of progress, double checking plans, making modifications and working with the various contractors to complete the garage. Thank you Harrison.

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Harry Webb sharing the secrets of his success with managing his woods over the past 25 years.

Harry Webb sharing the secrets of his success with managing his woods over the past 25 years.

The cold wind was blowing, but once we started the walk it didn’t feel so bad. Harry took us on a large loop through his woods off Petersham Road in Hardwick to see the results of 25 years of forest management looks like. Over that time, the Webb’s have completed seven timber sales, removing over 500MBF (or thousand board feet). That sounds like a lot, and it is a lot of trees. But what’s even more impressive, is that they have more than that in tree volume standing out in the woods.

Walking along the woods roads, you can see the impact of human activity. The roads are well-maintained. There is a small man-made farm pond. Several cleared areas are thick with young trees making the race towards the sun.

Harry filled us in on his joys and challenges over the years. Caring for his woodland has been an inspiration, and lots of hard, physical work.

 

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