Over 100 people ventured out onto EQLT’s newest Preserve on Sunday afternoon April 6th. It was breezy, but the sun was out and everyone was thrilled to walk the 30 acre property.
Wendemuth Meadow Preserve is our first conservation effort in North Brookfield. EQLT is working with volunteers who have formed as Friends of Wendemuth Meadow to assist in preserving one of North Brookfield’s most scenic and historic places. This beloved property includes 30 acres of agricultural meadowland, a historic barn and beautiful wetland complex that is a tributary of Coy Brook.
The public was invited for a special opportunity to walk the fields and learn more about the last step in preserving Wendemuth Meadow for all time. The Town of North Brookfield will purchase a Conservation Restriction to permanently protect the property from additional development. North Brookfield will apply for a state L.A.N.D. grant that will cover most of the cost. EQLT and the Friends of Wendemuth Meadow are raising the local match portion, which includes $50,000 from individuals and corporations. Over $11,000 is committed so far, but we need your help.
Another organized walk at Wendemuth is scheduled for Saturday May 3rd from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Please join us. We’ll have Wendemuth Meadow t-shirts for sale, and the proceeds go to support conservation of the property.
Also, a BioBlitz is scheduled during the day on Saturday July 12th. A BioBlitz is an intensive one-day survey of biodiversity in a specific area. This activity will bring trained naturalists, volunteer citizen-scientists and outdoor enthusiasts together for a common goal. We will organize into small groups, each with at least one expert, and search for all types of plant and animal life: birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects, spiders, aquatic invertebrates, trees, shrubs, herbs, mosses, mushrooms, and anything else we might find! Everything we find we will attempt to identify and catalog, so that by the end of the day we have a good cross-section of the life in our preserves. Contact Nate at servicelearning@EQLT.org if you want to participate.
Drawing the birds last Saturday
On Saturday a small but serious group pulled out the paper and pencils and got to work. The cabinet was opened and out came the birds. A barn owl, pileated woodpecker, and nighthawk were some of the specimens used as inspiration.
Ann Barrett Hicks lead the artists through several exercises focusing on the drawing styles of gesturing and blind contours. Gesturing is a style where your hand stays in motion capturing the sweeps and folds of the bird, not trying to precisely imitate the outline or details.
The technique of blind contours is a detailed drawing of a small part of the bird, maybe the wing feathers or tail or beak. The trick is that you can’t look at your paper. Both techniques create interesting drawings and participants can take those styles home to keep practicing their skills.
The mounted birds are part of the Warren Tyler Collection housed at EQLT’s headquarters originally from the Haston Free Library in North Brookfield. We had a great time and plan on getting together again in the coming months. Hope you will join us next time!
A view over the Wendemuth meadows
The East Quabbin Land Trust is pleased to announce that a thirty (30) acre tract of land along Bates Street in North Brookfield was purchased last week. The property will be called the Wendemuth Meadow Preserve, in honor of the Wendemuth family who farmed the land and are fondly remembered in town for using hand scythes to hay the fields. The property is along a popular walking route, and the open fields and historic barn harkens back to the days of greater agricultural activity in North Brookfield.
“We’re thrilled to welcome the East Quabbin Land Trust to town,” cheered Harbour Fraser Hodder, co-chair of the Friends of Wendemuth Meadow group. “The community values these fields and scenic views. Having the property in the hands of the East Quabbin Land Trust means that it can ultimately be protected from future development.”
Back in 2010 community residents approached the East Quabbin Land Trust about conservation options for this parcel. At the time, the Town sought to purchase the property for agricultural conservation and public recreation. The Friends of Wendemuth Meadow group formed to advocate for conservation of the land. Negotiations with the landowner stalled, but discussions continued periodically during the intervening years which allowed another offer to purchase. Ultimately a follow-up offer was accepted and the contingencies were met.
The barn is located along Bates Street.
Working with members of the Friends of Wendemuth Meadow group, the East Quabbin Land Trust offered to purchase the property at appraised value if the Town of North Brookfield would commit to applying for a Massachusetts Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (L.A.N.D.) grant for FY15. The Board of Selectmen and Conservation Commission agreed and an application is underway. If approved, the L.A.N.D. grant will reimburse the Town of North Brookfield 70% of the purchase price. The Friends of Wendemuth Meadow and the East Quabbin Land Trust are committed to raising the remaining funds so that the purchase of the conservation restriction will not cost the town anything.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property with tremendous conservation value,” commented Cynthia Henshaw, Executive Director of the East Quabbin Land Trust. “But it’s the people who are totally committed to the land that gave us the confidence that this effort was worth the risk.” Bobolinks nest on the property and the wet meadow supports diverse plants and wildlife.
We invite you to come see for yourself! The property will be open for visitors on Sunday, April 6th from 2pm until 4pm. Walk the fields, take in the view from the hilltop, and meet your neighbors out enjoying the land. The property will also be open to visitors on Saturday, May 3rd from 1pm until 4pm and a BioBlitz (where professionals naturalists assist amateurs in documenting all the living species found during the day) will be held on Saturday July 12th. More details about activities on these days will be available in the coming weeks. To learn more about the property or join the Friends of Wendemuth Meadow please contact Cynthia Henshaw at 413-477-8229 or chenshaw@EQLT.org.
Clearing overhead branches that hang down into the trail
With the deep snow, the trail clearing work at the Bob Marshall Trail in Petersham focused mostly overhead! Many thanks to Jeff, Will, Ben, Marshall, Tom and Bob for making the trek out to the trail on snow shoes and clearing more brush for several hours Saturday morning. There’s plenty more to do and we invite you to join us for future workdays!
Group shot of the trail workers at the "big" white pine
Pileated woodpecker holes in a small white pine
Moose prints on the trail
East Quabbin Land Trust’s 13th Annual Dinner and Silent Auction went off smoothly despite the snow and sloppy conditions outside. More than 150 people braved the snow storm to support the land trust and have fun with their friends and neighbors.
The East Quabbin Land Trust is grateful to the sponsors of the evening:
New Harbor Financial,
Pioneer Valley Environmental,
Dresser & McGourthy, LLP
Berube Real Estate,
R.C. Keddy Building and Construction, and the
Cultural Center at Eagle Hill.
We thank Reed’s Catering for putting together another great meal, Rose 32 Bread for donating the wonderful Hardwick Local Loaves, and Robinson’s Farm for the delicious cheeses for the hors d’ourves. A large number of people that helped put the event together, but Nancy G. was instrumental in making this evening a smashing success.
Thank you to all who donated items for the silent auction. Nearly $11,000 was raised in support of EQLT’s programs. The $10,000 dinner challenge was exceeded!! Thank you to all who support EQLT. The conservation and stewardship programming could not happen without your participation!
The thick snow held off until late afternoon. Perfect timing to help put out the brush fires, and made picking up brush possible throughout much of the day. Three big brush fires were burned, sections of stone walls were cleared, and brush piles were made ready for next year! We give a hearty thanks to the thirty odd volunteers that helped throughout the day – including a large crew from Quabbin Regional High School. Believe it or not, everyone had fun too!!
Here is one of the piles as the fire was getting started.
The first wafts of smoke are visible as volunteers cut smaller brush, mostly invasive buchthorn plants.
After a full day of hauling and burning brush the group settled into roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. The snow was just starting to stick in earnest.
The stone walls still had sections of sheep fencing and barbed wire in places that were removed to make way for new fencing when needed.
Participants at the New Year's Day walk at the Mass Central Rail Trail
There were about forty people, from age seven on up, that started their New Year off with a hike at the Mass Central Rail Trail today. And there were other families out on the trail earlier in the day and others starting after the group hike.
The weather was a bit nippy, but the wind wasn’t strong making it a pleasant 2-mile walk from West Road in New Braintree to Creamery Road in Hardwick.
A small group of mallards was spotted from the lattice truss bridge. Other than that, it was pretty quite along the trail other than our general conversations.
This year is the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the East Quabbin Land Trust, formerly known as the Hardwick Area Conservation Trust. To celebrate we have twenty special events planned ‘Outdoors in the East Quabbin’. Today’s hike was the first in the series. The next series event will be a workday and campfire at the Frohloff Farm on Saturday January 18th. We hope you can join us then and for many of the other coming activities!
Milling the hemlock planks at the Freeman Farm in Brimfield
The trail network at the Coxhall Kitchen Garden and Deer Park Preserve takes you up and over, around and through the fields, woods and walls near Barre and Simpson Roads in Hardwick. There are many interesting things to see along the wetland edges and dry oak ridgetop. The recently completed boardwalk helps you get there from the hay field, by spanning Fish Brook just below an old stone wall. We will be formally dedicating the property on June 15th.
Harry and Denis installing lag screws to keep the planks in place
Many thanks to Denis, Caren, Harry, Rod, Linda, Peter, Chloe, Ries, and Ben for all their hard work on getting the board walks finished!
Ries, Peter and Ben after finishing a stone ramp for the boardwalk
Acknowledging the purchase of The Country Store
The purchase of The Country Store building happened yesterday. This morning a small group stood in front of the store to celebrate the conclusion after several months of anticipation!
The main room of the store ready for renovations.
Then they got right to work and moved the chairs, tables, antiques and other items into the back room so that the store is ready for the renovations to begin.
The building sub-committee will begin work on Saturday morning with taking inventory and cleaning out unwanted, broken or unnecessary items.
The special events sub-committee will meet Sunday 5pm at the store to plan a celebration. More will be forthcoming on a celebration once decisions are made. If you’d like to participate on either sub-committee, please join us at the store ready to lend a hand.
The annual East Quabbin Land Trust holiday open house was another fabulous evening full of great conversation and excellent food. Thank you to all who came and to all who brought goodies to share! We hope you join us at the 2014 holiday open house!
The table is set
The room fills up
Stan, Mark and Terry catching up
Harrison, Senator Brewer and Linda