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Survey team working along shore of reservoir at the last BioBlitz at the Prince River Preserve

North Brookfield, MA – The East Quabbin Land Trust is excited to announce our second major species inventorying event of the year, this time at the gorgeous and grassy Wendemuth Meadow Preserve at 25 Bates Street in North Brookfield. In order to ready this new preserve for public recreation, and to give residents the opportunity to experience this serene and scenic property, EQLT will be hosting a BioBlitz on Saturday, July 12th.

“A BioBlitz is an intensive one-day survey of biodiversity in a specific area,” says Nate Grady, service learning coordinator for the East Quabbin Land Trust. “This is an especially neat activity as it brings all levels of outdoor enthusiasts – from trained naturalists to people who just like to explore and get a little dirty – together for the common goal of finding and identifying as many creatures as possible.”

Beginning bright and early with a bird walk, we will explore this preserve throughout the morning, as different species become most active. Broken down into small groups, each led by an expert, we will search for all types of plant and animal life:  birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects, spiders, aquatic invertebrates, trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, mosses, mushrooms, and anything else we might find! Everything we find we will attempt to identify and catalogue, so that by the end of the day we have a good cross-section of the life in this preserve!

The survey team finds a porcupine den in an oak tree

At 1pm, we’ll kick back and enjoy a potluck lunch while comparing notes about our most exciting discoveries! If you think you might want join in the fun, or just want more information, email Nate at servicelearning@eqlt.org. Participants are welcome to come for all or part of the day, and people of all backgrounds and knowledge levels are strongly encouraged to join us!

All of this is made possible through the productive three way partnership between the Town of North Brookfield, the Friends of Wendemuth Meadow, and the East Quabbin Land Trust, along with the consistent and irreplaceable support of many local and regional volunteers.

This BioBlitz is the 12th event in the 2014 “Outdoors in the East Quabbin” event series. For more information about this or other volunteer opportunities with EQLT, please contact Nate at servicelearning@eqlt.org, or call the EQLT office at (477) 413-8229.

Join us for the 2nd Annual Country Store Festival Planned for Petersham

Music, Kids’ Games, Potluck Supper, Community Auction to Support Renovations

Silkies up for bid during the 2013 live auction to Restore the Store

(Petersham, Mass.)—On Saturday, July 26, a regional festival to benefit the Country Store in Petersham will kick off at 3:00 pm on Petersham Common with kids’ games, music, yak bingo, live and silent auctions, and more. Hosting the event is the East Quabbin Land Trust (EQLT), which purchased and renovated The Country Store building interior in 2013 with extensive support from the local community. The Store re-opened as a café and local grocery in May 2014 under the management of Ari and Jeanneane Pugliese.

“Last year, hundreds of people attended the ‘Restore the Store’ event,” says Cynthia Henshaw, executive director of EQLT, “Everyone enjoyed a great day and we were blown away by the generosity of everyone that came to support re-opening The Country Store. This year we have a 1:1 matching challenge grant for $15,000 to complete exterior repairs and repainting of the historic building.” A live and silent auction during this year’s festival will feature a wide range of items including seven days and nights at a lakeside home in Sandwich, New Hampshire; original art; and a variety of local services, food items, and gift certificates.

“Just in the past month we’ve witnessed the resurgence of The Country Store as an anchor of community life in Petersham,” says Mick Huppert of Petersham, and EQLT board member. “We want the beautiful building built in 1840 to remain something we can all be proud of. And of course we hope everyone comes on July 26 and has lots of fun.”

The event will feature a great assortment of kids’ activities, including a Peak Adventure climbing wall open from 3:30–5:30 pm, dunk tank, face painting, relay races, obstacle course, Make Your Own Country Store craft table, and much more. A pair of yaks from a Petersham farm will play starring roles in two rounds of Yak Bingo.

The bandstand will carry live music by Jamie Hatch, Liam Regan and friends, along with DJ music with Shawn Legare. A community potluck supper begins at 5:00 pm. Visitors are encouraged to bring a dish and serving utensil to add to the community potluck. The silent auction runs through the afternoon and the live auction begins at 6:00 pm. The movie Frozen will be screened in Town Hall at 7:00 pm.

The festival will be held rain or shine under tents on the Petersham Common and in Petersham Town Hall at 1 South Main Street. A festival schedule, auction catalog, and ticket information for the yak plop raffle will be available at the East Quabbin Land Trust website, www.eqlt.org and on the Country Store’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheCountryStoreinPetersham.

Flowers galore!

The rain held off on Saturday for the benefit garden tour in North Brookfield and New Braintree.  Tour goers had a wonderful time, checking in with the gardeners, learning about their land and plant choices, and even walking away with plants in some cases. The East Quabbin Land Trust is grateful to Genevieve and Glenn, Sarah and Craig, Deb and Lee, Elisabeth and Darrell, Judy and Gene, Suzanne and Tom, Karen and Jan for sharing their wonderful garden spaces!

 

 

 

 

Open for Business

Ken, Nate, Caren and Pattie in front of The Country Store yesterday

Yesterday several East Quabbin Land Trust folks made the short trek to Petersham to enjoy lunch at the newly re-opened Country Store. By the time we arrived Ken Levine had already hung the sign on the column “A Collaborative Project of the East Quabbin Land Trust and the Petersham Community”.  Thank you Ken! A testament to the work and dedication of Petersham residents and the land trust in securing the building and renovating the interior.

Residents and visitors alike have been flocking to the store to have breakfast or lunch and buy a wide variety of groceries. Go check it out for your self!

We are also working on a map and display that highlights local places to walk and get outdoors. More on that in the near future.

Also, join us on the Common for the Country Store Carnival on Saturday July 26th from 2pm through 7pm. This fabulous community event will feature:

  • a huge kids area with climbing wall, obstacle course, face painting, relay races, dunk tank and other family friendly activities,
  • community potluck,
  • live music, and
  • silent and live auction.

Funds raised at the Country Store Carnival will match a $15,000 challenge grant from the Greater Worcester Community Foundation to complete exterior building repairs, such as pointing the chimney, clapboard and trim wood working repairs, and painting the exterior. We hope you will join us on July 26th.

After completing trail work at the Bob Marshall Trail in Petersham

Have you been hearing and reading about all the wonderful things that young people are doing with the East Quabbin Land Trust? Gardening, trail building, kiosk and bridge construction, historical research, computer mapping and more!! Young people are digging into the mission of the East Quabbin Land Trust and making a difference. We are grateful for all their time, energy and enthusiasm.

Our Service Learning Coordinator is an integral part of encouraging youth to get involved with the East Quabbin Land Trust. We’re looking for another bright, engaged college graduate that wants to get some experience in the land conservation and stewardship arena over the next year – and make a difference in their world!

Look under the ‘About Us’ tab for the page on the Service Learning Coordinator position for more information, or click here.

In fact the whole weekend was wonderful. The expected downpours for Saturday cleared by 8am, in plenty of time for the Asparagus and Flower Heritage Festival. What a lovely day on the West Brookfield Common, and enjoyed by thousands.

Ron shares information about trilium and the various species that can be found in Massachusetts

After Sunday lunch a group assembled along Route 122 in Oakham to explore the area, especially a bog in the state forest. Along the way we learned about some of the spring flowers out, listened to an ovenbird singing and found a toad along the trail.

The purple shade from azalea flowers is visible out in the midst of the bog

We broke off the rail trail onto a side path that leads to the bog.  Under water was a circular bowl of mud about a foot and half wide. Turns out that a fish created that area to lay its eggs.  Once at the bog edge a purple haze of native azalea was visible out on the bog platform. The water was too high for the whole group to get out in the midst of the floating mat, but we know what to look for on our next visit.

Sharing good food before the EQLT Annual Meeting

 

The land trust’s 20th annual membership meeting took place later in the afternoon. We shared great food while looking out over to the Quabbin Reservoir to the northwest. Thanks to Rick and Lisa for hosting us. After a brief membership meeting, Lois and Denis Melican shared the story of the Restoration of the American Chestnut. The chestnut used to one in four of every tree in the northeast. A fungus was introduced in early 1900′s which quickly decimated the tree, forever altering our forests. In the past twenty years dedicated volunteers from the American Chestnut Foundation have been intentionally back-crossing chestnuts working to breed a blight resistant tree that largely includes the genes from American chestnuts.

Lois presenting a slide show on the Restoration of the American Chestnut

Eating outside looking towards the Quabbin Reservoir

Prince River BioBlitz

Survey team working along the shore of the Old Reservoir

 

This past Sunday, May 4th, we had our first bioblitz, and it was a huge success! Over 30 dedicated explorers joined us in turning over rocks, grabbing wiggling salamanders, wading through streams, spying migratory birds, collecting mushrooms and lichen samples and generally having a great time in the woods! Perhaps most importantly, we were able to identify and catalog all of our finds, which gives us an important snapshot of life in this preserve.

 

 

Group of birders out in the early morning next to an American Beech

Many many thanks to all of our wonderful experts and naturalists who helped lead teams and identify obscure finds – we really could not have done this with without all your critical help!

Our next bioblitz is scheduled for July 12th down in North Brookfield at our Wendemuth Meadow Preserve, so if you missed this one or are ready gather some more critters, come join us!

Overlooking a vernal pool

Grass is Greening Up

Looking towards Bates Street. The grass is greening up.

Yesterday the Friends of Wendemuth Meadow and EQLT hosted another opportunity for community members to take a walk at Wendemuth Meadow. In the last month it’s clear that winter is finally gone and spring is on its way. Black flies are out and leaf buds are breaking. Clearly the grass is green!! A female mallard was down in the wetland joined by numerous Red-winged blackbirds.

Participants in the Walk and Draw tour at Wendemuth Meadow making sketches of the property

 

 

 

Several groups of walkers went out around the fields.  Ann Barrett Hicks lead a group on a “Walk and Draw”.  Participants came back with sketches of the barn, trees and stone walls. There is a lot to draw out there!!

 

Well, the first segment of our group hike along the east coast of the Quabbin Reservoir came of nearly perfectly on Sunday. A few rain showers – especially during lunch – and a side trip down an unmapped trail diverted the group for an extra half hour, but we regrouped! Six hours later arriving back at our cars at Gate 43. Can you tell which picture is before or after? There are smiles in both!!

 

The group of nineteen hikers getting ready to hike the eleven miles to Gate 43. Looking west from the Quabbin Tower towards the Holyoke Range.

The happy participants just a short walk away from their cars after a long day on the trail.

Crossing Goodnow Dike

 

We had a lovely walk, through woods, across the Goodnow Dike and along a stretch of the Reservoir itself. Animal sightings include deer bounding away with tail up (not too surprising), a Red-shouldered Hawk that let the entire group walk right underneath and get a good look, and a porcupine that ambled up a tree and was having a snack. Several beaver ponds were along the roads but not visible when we passed by. We were having too much fun talking to actually sneak up on any wildlife!

Please join us for the second phase of the east coast hike series – walking from Gate 43 to Gate 37 on Sunday July 27!

Walk at Wendemuth Meadow

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.

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