Berkshire Natural Resources Council Blog

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2018 August Enews: A New Trail Coming to the Berkshires!

Throw Some Shade

Some trees thrive in sunlight, others need deep shade. BNRC land stewards help each tree find its place in the forest, with your help.

Have you ever noticed that some trees grow very quickly, and others take many decades to mature? Or that trees near disturbances and forest edges behave very differently than those in deep undisturbed areas?  What’s the best way to ensure the health of a wide range of tree species, to support habitat for wildlife?

Hemlock forest. © Dylan Cipkowski

Some trees prefer specific environmental conditions; some like wet soil, some dry, some shady and others like full light.

Shade intolerant species are fast growers and they need lots of sunlight (50% or more direct sunlight). At the other end of the spectrum, shade tolerant species grow slowly and in low light (10-20% direct sunlight). Intermediate species can withstand anywhere in between.

Forests are not static—both human and natural changes can change the forest makeup. For example, when lots of sunlight reaches the forest floor in the event of a large disturbance (large forest fire, clear-cut, road etc.) shade intolerant species, such as aspen and paper birch, thrive.

At the other end of the spectrum, yellow birch, beech and hemlock trees have the highest tolerance for shade in the Northeast. In a mature oak forest, for example, small hemlocks are able to survive near the forest floor for decades, growing very slowly with minimal sunlight. A hemlock can be 4 feet tall and 70 or more years old, waiting for a gap to form in the canopy. When you walk into a forest of tall hemlock, yellow birch, or beech, such as at our Boulders reserve in Pittsfield, you know that they waited a long time to reach the top of the canopy.

While every forest has edges, we strive to keep large tracts of forest intact and undisturbed, so that essential species like hemlocks will always have a place to grow in the Berkshires.

So on your next outdoor adventure, pay attention to the forest composition and the story it tells.

You help make sure the thousands of acres of BNRC-owned forests are cared for to protect the trees and the wildlife that depend on them.  Thank you!

Help protect forests in the Berkshires, Donate Here.

Parsons Marsh Trail Opening, Lenox

JOIN US to celebrate the opening of the new accessible trail at Parsons Marsh in Lenox.

Music, Kid’s Activities, Hikes and Walks, Cider Press, Cider Donuts

A work in progress.

Saturday, September 15th (9:00 a.m. – Noon)

Free event! All are welcome!


Event Schedule

 9:00 a.m.    Bird Walk with well-known Berkshire birder Ed Neumuth
10:00 a.m.   Music, Kid’s Crafts
10:30 a.m.   Ribbon Cutting
10:45 a.m.   Music, Cider Pressing, Kid’s Crafts, Explore the new trail


Parking: Stonover Farm’s Event Parking Area, across from 169 Undermountain Rd, Lenox, MA 01240. Carpooling and walking encouraged!

 

Email frontdesk@bnrc.org or call 413-499-0596 with any questions.

 

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, also supported by the Lenox Land Trust.

 

Volunteer Highlight: Ginny Akabane

She initiated her relationship with BNRC 25 years ago doing title searches for properties being acquired. Ginny Akabane, having been involved with BNRC for half the time it’s been around, has done it all – from mailings to organizing the volunteer monitoring of hemlock woolly adelgid.

Her favorite property “has to be Mahanna Cobble. While I was helping to clear the vista before George Wislocki’s bench was installed, a bald eagle landed in one of the dead trees. That tree had to remain in case the eagle ever comes back! I like that it is a lollipop loop trail coming in from West Mountain Road. and I love the name of the Secret Trail. I have had a beaver slap its tail at me at the beaver pond, which comes and goes as the beavers come and go. My dog enjoys running the lower part of the Bousquet loop trail and bushwhacking across the knoll back to the car. Also, it is co-owned with three friends of mine.”

Inspired by her mother, who was still working at the Oyster Bay Waterfront Center in her 90s, Ginny dedicates much of her time to volunteering. Her motivation for helping BNRC is that “it is the best land conservation organization in Berkshire County, has wonderful properties and has friendly, dedicated staff.”

Ginny, thank you! You are an inspiration to us all! Cheers to many more paint-covered days blazing trails!

 

July 2018 Enews: A Leprechaun at Hollow Fields?

 

A Leprechaun Led me to it!

Hollow Fields in Richmond – Is there a pot of gold out there?  Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

The healing powers of walking the land by Albert Stern.

My introduction to Hollow Fields came at a very auspicious time in my life. I had been ill for two years with a condition that left me broken up both physically and psychically, and that autumn, I was just off my eighth serious surgery, the one that finally fixed my problem. At the time, it was difficult to see a way forward, to imagine what path my recuperation would take or where it would ultimately lead me.

As I started along the mown trail, I spied someone descending the hill. We greeted each other when we met, and I told him that this was my first time at Hollow Fields. With a smile, he told me this was a perfect short hike – one mile up the hill to work the body, one mile down the hill to enjoy a view that nourishes the soul. “It’s a place you can keep coming back to,” he said, “to touch base with yourself and get straight with the world.” And with that, we went our separate ways.

Now, I’m not saying that this guy was for sure a leprechaun, but I will admit that I’m not 100 percent certain he was not a leprechaun. Because ahead of me was the equivalent of a pot of gold. A moderately steep ascent through a cleared field takes you up to a plateau that leads to a wooded trail. Sheltered by trees, the trail then rises steadily uphill until it starts to loop back, making the turn the apex of the walk atop a second cleared field. The view from that spot is a miracle – an open vista that takes in the Berkshire Hills stretching southeast into the distance. Gravity carries you effortlessly down through the upper field and into another short wooded stretch, and then back to the main path, which overlooks the entirety of Yokun Ridge until nearly the end of the walk.

Since that first experience, I’ve returned to Hollow Fields almost daily to get straight with the world, just like that leprau…I mean, that kind gentlemen, suggested. I found my fitness here. I recovered my balance here. I saw the autumn leaves turn red and gold and then fall, and I returned throughout a frigid, snowy winter, snowshoeing to the top and bounding down through soft snow that sparkled in the sunlight while “Marshmallow World” (the Darlene Love version) played in my head. As I write now, it’s early summer, with the grass in the fields waist-high and home to nesting bobolinks and swallows, and the woods green with a high canopy of leaves and a carpeting of ferns. I look forward to seeing it all change again.

I like to think of Hollow Fields as a “tasting menu” of all the other hikes you’ll find in the Berkshires – you get a little bit of everything in a manageable 60-minute jaunt suitable for most fitness levels, and you won’t be disappointed if you decide you only want to go part of the way. It’s even nice if you just park your car and sit on the bench near the trailhead. And while I can’t promise that you’ll encounter a leprechaun, I hope you’ll say hello if our paths cross. The BNRC has tapped me to be the trail steward volunteer for Hollow Fields, a role I’ve gladly taken on in order to pitch in and preserve this special spot for posterity.

Please come and enjoy, and please support – by volunteering or with a generous gift – the BNRC’s worthy efforts to sustain the natural treasures of our Berkshires.

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.

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.