Berkshire Natural Resources Council Blog

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The Boulders Volunteer Workday, Pittsfield/Dalton

Help build the new access trail from the Gulf Road trailhead!

Friday, July 27th 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

(10-15 volunteers)Join BNRC’s Stewardship Staff to continue building a new access trail at The Boulders property. We’ll be using hand tools to cut the new trail tread, crushing stones to fill holes, and digging in the soil!

Please wear sturdy closed-toe shoes. BNRC will provide tools, water and snacks.

Directions: To the trailhead parking area on Gulf Road, Dalton: take routes 8/9 east from the center of Pittsfield. Take a left onto Park Avenue, passing Craneville School. Take a left onto Gulf Road. Park at the pull-off on the left, opposite the parking for the Appalachian Trail.
From Pittsfield: Get on West Housatonic Street (Route 20) heading west. Turn left onto Route 41 just before Hancock Shaker Village. After 2.5 miles turn right onto Perry Peak Road. Parking is signed, second red barn on the left.

Please RSVP to Mariah at mauman@bnrc.org or 413-499-0596.

The Old Mill Trail Workday, Hinsdale

Help to maintain this accessible trail and support native plants on this beautiful trail!

Thursday, July 12th 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Photo Credit: Ken Kelly

(10 volunteers) The Housatonic Valley Association, in partnership with BNRC, is determined to eradicate the invasive species along this stretch of the East Branch of the Housatonic River. Come learn about the effort and participate in making this vision a reality. We’ll also do some regular maintenance on accessible portion (raking, pulling weeds from the trail surface). BNRC will provide all tools and gloves.

Please wear sturdy shoes and bring water and lunch/snack.

Directions: From the center of Dalton: take Route 8 south to the Hinsdale line. From the town line, continue 4/10 miles to a left on Old Dalton Road. The trailhead parking is the first, immediate left.

Please RSVP to Mariah at mauman@bnrc.org or 413-499-0596.

The Boulders Volunteer Workday, Pittsfield/Dalton

Help build the new access trail from the Gulf Road trailhead and install sign posts!

Saturday, July 7th 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

(10-15 volunteers) Join BNRC’s Stewardship Staff to continue building a new access trail at The Boulders property. We’ll be installing new sign posts with post hole diggers, using hand tools to cut the new trail tread, crushing stones to fill holes, and digging in the soil!

Please wear sturdy closed-toe shoes. BNRC will provide tools, water and snacks.

Directions: To the trailhead parking area on Gulf Road, Dalton: take routes 8/9 east from the center of Pittsfield. Take a left onto Park Avenue, passing Craneville School.  Take a left onto Gulf Road. Park at the pull-off on the left, opposite the parking for the Appalachian Trail.

Please RSVP to Mariah at mauman@bnrc.org or 413-499-0596.

Olivia’s Overlook at Yokun Ridge Volunteer Workday, Stockbridge/Richmond

Help to re-blaze this highly used trail system!

Friday, June 29th 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

(10 volunteers) Together we can update the trail blazing on the 6+ miles of trails that are accessed from Olivia’s Overlook.  BNRC will provide all supplies including gloves.

Please wear sturdy shoes, clothes that you don’t mind getting paint on and bring water and lunch.

Directions:

From the center of Lenox (Routes 7A and 183): Take Route 183 west for 1.5 miles, passing Tanglewood. When Route 183 curves left, bear right onto Richmond Mountain Road (sign says to Rt. 41/Richmond). Drive 1.5 miles and the parking lot will be on your left.

From Pittsfield (intersection of Route 7 (South Street) and Route 20 (West Housatonic Street): Take Rt. 20 west 0.8 miles. Make a left onto Barker Road and drive 6.6 miles. Make a left onto Lenox Road and drive 1.8 miles to Olivia’s Overlook, on the right.

From West Stockbridge at the intersection of Route 102 and Swamp Road (across from Shaker Dam Coffee House & Stanmeyer Gallery): Head north on Swamp Road and make an immediate right onto Lenox Road. At 2.0 miles, turn right and continue another 0.1 mile to Olivia’s Overlook on the right.

Please RSVP to Mariah at mauman@bnrc.org or 413-499-0596.

The Boulders Volunteer Workday, Pittsfield/Dalton

Help build the new access trail from the Gulf Road trailhead!

Tuesday, June 26th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

(10-15 volunteers) Join BNRC’s Stewardship Staff to continue building a new access trail at The Boulders property. We’ll be using hand tools to cut the new trail tread, crushing stones to fill holes, and digging in the soil!

Please wear sturdy closed-toe shoes and bring water. BNRC will provide all tools and gloves.

Directions: To the trailhead parking area on Gulf Road, Dalton: take routes 8/9 east from the center of Pittsfield. Take a left onto Park Avenue, passing Craneville School.  Take a left onto Gulf Road. Park at the pull-off on the left, opposite the parking for the Appalachian Trail.

Please RSVP to Mariah at mauman@bnrc.org or 413-499-0596.

Basin Pond Volunteer Workday, Lee

Help to finish a footbridge about ½ mile from the trailhead!

Wednesday, June 20th 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

(5-10 volunteers) No experience necessary! Using native timber, we’ll replace a small footbridge on the lower side of the Basin Pond Loop. We will also have a crew walk the entire trail to scout for any trees across the trail corridor.  BNRC will provide all tools and gloves.

Please wear sturdy shoes and bring water and lunch.

 

Directions: From the I-90 interchange in Lee: Take Route 20 East 4.1 miles and turn left on Becket Road. Drive .03 miles north and the trailhead parking will be on the left.

Please RSVP to Mariah at mauman@bnrc.org or 413-499-0596.

A few observations from BNRC’s new President

 

June 4, 2018

I’ve learned a few things in my first four months at BNRC. I have learned the difference between a CR and an APR, and I recognize at least a few faces when I attend a Mass Land Trust Alliance meeting.  I’ve learned that progress in land conservation can often be measured in years, and success is measured in…forever. That there is no competition when it comes to protecting the land we love—we all work together.

I’ve also been discovering the nuances of Berkshire geography, by walking BNRC trails on properties from North Adams to South Egremont, and have fallen head over heels for the beauty of this extraordinary place.   

A few highlights of my travels so far:

Mike Leavitt, our Trails Coordinator, gave me a tour of one of our newest trails, at Clam River. He pointed out so many interesting sights:  old foundations from long-gone houses. Rare wildflowers. Boulders and logs along the trails which might seem to have fallen there naturally to form a perfect footpath, but that he and our trail crews carefully and painstakingly moved there to create safe passage through the prettiest places.

He showed me trees that had been clawed by bears to mark their territory, and this one, which was chewed on by a bear. High in the trees, there was a bear’s “nest”—where a bear pulled branches together to create a sleeping spot for herself and her cub.  

At Steadman Pond Mike introduced me to the concept of “beaver deceivers,” which keep the beavers from flooding bridges and boardwalks. I kept forgetting the name and calling them “beaver confusing devices” which doesn’t rhyme at all.

Mike takes great pride in his trail design, a skill he he has honed for years, since he first interned with the Appalachian Mountain Club.  “The trail needed to be at a slight slant to make sure water runs off without eroding the trail,” he explained to me. He also showed me how he uses natural features to encourage people to make unconscious choices about which way to go, and how it can take a week of hard work by a full crew to build ten feet of trail in a tricky area.

That day we also visited Steepletop, where I saw a barred owl, up close in a tree.  At Hollow Fields, along with the hundreds of bobolinks perched on blades of grass, I saw a pileated woodpecker making its way up a tall tree. (If you are noticing a bird theme in my observations, you’re right: my first job was at the National Audubon Society, where I helped organize their Birdathon fundraiser. I got to go birding with some of the best birders in the country, and I’ve loved birds ever since.)

Another favorite hike was to the Hoosac Range.  It was still winter and I kept stepping off the packed trail into knee-deep snow.  At Thomas and Palmer Brook I had a pair of borrowed snowshoes, and learned that it is a true cardio workout to walk in them.  

Disaster Averted

On almost every walk I’ve taken, my dog Hazel has been great company.  She spends most days curled up under my desk, but comes to life when we get to go outside.  She doesn’t mind snow, she adores mud, and I can usually trust her not to run away from me. One recent day, though, she gave me a real scare: we were at Housatonic Flats in Great Barrington, where we’ve already been many times. There’s a place where you can get to a quiet spot in the river down a very easy slope, and she took her usual dip there.  

A ways further up the trail we approached the water again but this time it was over a bit of a cliff.  I couldn’t stop her: she leapt into the water, which was deep and moving fast. She dunked, came up, and put her paws on the bank, but it was too steep—there was no way she’d be able to climb back up. In a flash I was flat on my stomach, reaching over to grab her paw and haul her back up.  She was soaked, I was muddy, but she was safe, and after a quick shake, apparently none the worse for wear. I, however, couldn’t get the fear of my dog being swept away down the river out of my head for the rest of the day!

 

Meeting YOU on the Trail

The hikes I’ve enjoyed the most are when I get to talk to hikers and volunteers, to hear what these lands mean to them.  Like Tom, who told me he’s lost 40 pounds since he retired and started hiking an hour every day. He told me he’d always wanted to spend his days in the woods but didn’t realize he could make a career of it. He’s a bit envious of our staff, who get to do just that, but he’s making up for lost time.

Or John, who spent a recent afternoon assembling 12 bluebird box kits to put up at Hollow Fields. John’s had a distinguished career as well, but his fondness for the lands of the Berkshires has led him to join our Board of Directors.

 

A Day with George and Tad

Of all the hikes and walks I’ve taken so far, the best was the day I spent with George Wislocki, BNRC’s founder and first president, and Tad Ames, his successor, whose shoes I am now attempting to fill. 

We didn’t talk shop, much—George told me his idea for a one-act play to celebrate Tad and his vision for the High Road, and gave me suggestions for the best way to enjoy Mount Greylock. We walked around Stevens Glen, one of our oldest properties, across wooden bridges and up step hemlock-covered slopes. Wood thrushes sounded all around us, and Hazel found a few streams to sit in.

Unfortunately, my hikes are on hold for a few weeks while I try to rehabilitate an old Achilles tendon injury—apparently walking up hills can stretch the Achilles in painful ways.

 

Join Me on a Bird Walk on June 23

I intend to be back in the game in time to help lead a birdwalk at Housatonic Flats on June 23.  I have a secret weapon—my husband, who knows every bird and birdsong and loves to help people discover their first redstart, tanager or even identify those noisy black birds with the white speckles (spoiler alert: they’re starlings). 

I hope you’ll consider coming along! Click here for more details about the walk. 

Jenny Hansell

Parsons Marsh: Construction Update

May 31, 2018

This summer BNRC will break ground on its first accessible trail building project at Parsons Marsh in Lenox. (Another BNRC property, the Old Mill Trail in Dalton and Hinsdale, has an accessible trail that was constructed by the Housatonic Valley Association.)

Community support for this conservation and public access project has been incredible! This is a cooperative trail project between Berkshire Natural Resources Council, the Town of Lenox through its Community Preservation Fund, and the Massachusetts Recreational Trails Program, the latter two allocating $235,000 and $75,000 respectively toward the project. BNRC, with you and fellow supporters, funded the design and permitting work to get the project “shovel ready.”

The accessible trail project is an intensive one! Due to the nature of the work, BNRC’s Parsons Marsh reserve will be closed for the duration of construction, from now until approximately the end of August. Please be patient as the professional trail construction crew, Peter S. Jensen & Associates, works their magic on the site.

We will host guided walks at various times during the summer when we can safely show you the progress that’s been made. Please call BNRC at 413-499-0596 or email Mackenzie at mgreer@bnrc.org to let us know you’re interested in attending one of the walks, and we’ll be in touch when they are scheduled.

 

Soon the pond at the Parsons Marsh Reserve will be made accessible with a carefully graded footpath. It will be a lovely site to enjoy a picnic or lunch break.

Hollow Fields Volunteer Workday, Richmond

Help to install bluebird boxes that will double as trail markers through the open fields!

Tuesday, May 22nd 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

This property has over 40 acres of open-managed fields and in the fall after mowing and pre-spring before the grasses have grown, navigating the trail system can be tricky. The installation of blue bird boxes along the trail in the open fields will help with navigation!

What to Bring: BNRC will provide all tools and gloves. Please wear sturdy shoes and bring water and lunch.

 

Directions:

From Great Barrington: Take Route 41 north into Richmond. After passing Route 295, Perry Peak Road will be the next left approximately one mile down the road. On Perry Peak Road, find the parking at the second red barn on the left, with a BNRC sign by the road.

From Pittsfield: Get on West Housatonic Street (Route 20) heading west. Turn left onto Route 41 just before Hancock Shaker Village. After 2.5 miles turn right onto Perry Peak Road. Parking is signed, second red barn on the left.

From Lenox: Take Route 183 west towards Tanglewood. Just passed Tanglewood, turn right onto Richmond Mountain Road. Richmond Mountain Road becomes Lenox Road. Continue on Lenox Road through a few intersections and 3 miles. When you get to Route 41, turn right. After passing Route 295, Perry Peak Road will be the next left approximately one mile down the road. On Perry Peak Road, find the parking at the second red barn on the left, with a BNRC sign by the road.

The Old Mill Trail Volunteer Workday, Hinsdale

Wednesday, May 16th 10:00 am- 12:00 pm

The Housatonic Valley Association, in partnership with BNRC, is determined to eradicate the invasive species along this stretch of the East Branch of the Housatonic River.

Come learn about the effort and participate in making this vision a reality. We’ll also do some regular maintenance on accessible portion (raking, pulling weeds from the trail surface).

What to Bring: BNRC will provide all tools and gloves. Please wear sturdy shoes and bring water and lunch/snack.

Directions: From the center of Dalton: take Route 8 south to the Hinsdale line. From the town line, continue 4/10 miles to a left on Old Dalton Road. The trailhead parking is the first, immediate left.