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2019 February Enews

2019 Large-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago macrophylla) Habitat Research

Introduction:

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is seeking Proposals to document the habitat characteristics of Large-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago macrophylla), a plant species listed as Special Concern in Massachusetts. This Request for Proposals is intended to improve Natural Heritage’s understanding of the species and the potential threats that it faces.

Solidago macrophylla is an iconic rare plant species of the higher elevations in the Northeast. In Massachusetts, this species is known only from northeastern Berkshire County and northwestern Franklin County at high elevations (above 2000 ft.) It is typically observed in cool, moist conditions, though it tolerates both full sun and full shade. This habitat is potentially threatened by erratic fluctuations in temperatures and rainfall that is expected to result from climate change (Massachusetts 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan [SWAP], Chapter 5 Climate Change and Massachusetts Species of Greatest Conservation Needs [SGCN] https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/12/uo/ma-swap-public-draft-26june2015-chapter5.pdf. In an effort to protect the biodiversity of the Commonwealth, Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) is seeking proposals to

1) establish long-term monitoring protocols for this species,
2) collect the first year of data, and
3) submit a summary of the work to NHESP in the form of a report.
NHESP through a partnership with BNRC has allocated up to $5,000 for developing and initiating a long-term monitoring protocol of the species and its habitat, with a particular focus on how climate change might impact the species.

Project Objectives:

1. Develop a long-term monitoring protocol for the population of Solidago macrophylla in Massachusetts that will detect changes in the health of the plants and their community over time.
2. Conduct this vegetation and community monitoring in 2019.
3. Select a variety of elevations and aspects to observe.
4. Describe the primary communities which currently support Solidago macrophylla and conditions where it is found.
5. Document and report all MESA-listed and SWAP-listed species encountered during this study.
6. Summarize findings and present them to NHESP in a report by December 16, 2019.

Figure 1. The Mapped Habitat of Large-leaved Goldenrod

Project Approach

The awarded researcher will develop a monitoring protocol to detect changes over time in the population of Solidago macrophylla in Massachusetts. It must include the population on Mount Greylock State Reservation and may include additional populations at Savoy Mountain State Forest, Savoy Mountain Conservation Area and the Hoosac Range. This monitoring protocol will be used in future years by NHESP biologists and their associates to detect and track changes in the population of the species. This monitoring protocol must be powerful enough that qualified staff will be able to regularly conduct monitoring (every three to five years), yet simple enough that qualified staff can conduct sampling efficiently and within a reasonable amount of time. The monitoring protocol will be developed with the input, and ultimate approval, of NHESP staff, and the awarded researcher will conduct the initial data collection during 2019. The awarded researcher will also describe the vegetative communities (list approximately 10 associated species) where these rare plants are observed, document potential threats to the species, and document all species (plants and animals) of conservation concern encountered during this work (submitting reports to NHESP through the VPRS reporting system); and then submit a summary of all work to NHESP in the form of a report.

Project Methodology:

The project shall be initiated during the spring of 2019 and conclude, as indicated by the submission of the Final Report, by December 16, 2019. Specifically:

• Develop a monitoring protocol and plan for implementation to detect important changes in the population(s) of Solidago macrophylla in Massachusetts. This Plan will be designed to be powerful enough to detect important changes in vegetation composition and structure over time, but of a complexity that will allow NHESP staff to continue monitoring into future years with reasonable effort and without burdensome time commitment. The Plan will be developed by the awarded researcher, with input from NHESP staff. The awarded researcher will present the Monitoring Plan design to NHESP for approval. The approved Plan must be finalized before May 31, 2019. The approved Plan must be repeatable, based upon standardized and comparable sampling techniques. Once the Plan is approved, the awarded researcher will conduct the initial monitoring during the 2019 season.

• Obtain permission from Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to conduct research in Mount Greylock State Reservation (NHESP staff will assist with this step once the monitoring protocol is sufficiently designed to be submitted to DCR; https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-a-research-permit). Note that the roadways on Mount Greylock are open for only the summer months.

• Map and describe Solidago macrophylla at different elevations and aspect. NHESP can loan 10 HOBO data loggers for periodic temperature and light measurements. Determine where these would be best placed to collect data on potential climate change and how frequently data should be logged. We assume more than one year of data will be needed, though this might not be in consecutive years.

• All MESA-listed and SWAP-listed species encountered during these studies, in addition to, and including populations of Solidago macrophylla, need to be documented and entered into the Natural Heritage VPRS data reporting system. Documentation will include information on species composition, abundance or density of plants, habitat and associated species, and GPS coordinates of all observations.

• Potential study questions may include:

  • Do populations at different elevations experience a different range of temperatures? Is either a high or low temperature related to the health of Solidago macrophylla populations?
  • Does aspect (either North-South and/or East-West) affect habitat suitability for Solidago macrophylla?
  •  Is increasing temperature, changes in humidity and soil moisture, or increasing light related to the vigor (number of ramets, height of plants) or presence of flowering or percent of viable seed?
  •  Do soils vary between the populations selected for monitoring? Is this in relation to elevation within populations of Solidago macrophylla?
  •  Is deer or rabbit browse or insects impacting the populations of these rare plants; does this vary by elevation?
  •  Are selected populations of this species producing viable seed?
  •  What pollinates Solidago macrophylla? Is it the same suite of species at the higher elevations as at its lower elevations?
  •  Are invasive species threatening these plants in any study locations?
  •  What is the optimal basal area/age/composition of forest species for vigorous growth and flowering in S. macrophylla?

• Measurements of Solidago macrophylla within plots may include:

  • Density-frequency-dispersion
  •  Abundance
  •  Stature
  •  Browse
  •  % Cover
  •  % Blooming
  •  % Seed set
  •  Timing of flowering and seed set and other phenological data
  •  Greenhouse experiments to answer some questions are allowed

• Measurements within Solidago macrophylla habitat may include:

  • Temperature and light (possibly plan for multiple years)
  •  Tree canopy cover estimates (include sampling methodology)
  •  Soil chemistry, composition, depth, moisture
  •  GPS location
  •  Aspect
  •  Slope
  •  Plant community data (associated species)
  •  Pollinators observed

Deliverables:

• Meeting or telecommunication conference with NHESP to discuss monitoring protocol and potential problems.
• A Long-term Monitoring Protocol and Implementation Plan for Solidago macrophylla in Massachusetts submitted and approved by NHESP before May 31, 2019.
• A Final Report, due by December 16, 2019, which includes:

  •  A formal written protocol of the Monitoring Plan, as approved by NHESP staff;
  •  The first year of data gathered during implementation of the monitoring in 2019;
  •  Maps and GPS locations of plots and transects.
  •  Community descriptions
  •  Summary of perceived threats to Solidago macrophylla and its habitat;
  •  Records of all MESA and SWAP-listed species entered into the VPRS rare species recording system.
  •  Recommendations for future study.

Instructions for Submission of Responses:
By March 15, 2019, please submit a proposal describing the research to be conducted, which includes:
1. Title page with proposal title, applicant’s name, address, phone, and e-mail address
2. Body of the proposal of no more than five pages (For a proposal to be successful, the topic must be clearly described, the methods justified, and the results achievable within defined time limits)
3. Deliverables including progress reports, if applicable, and plans for disseminating results
4. List of literature citations relevant to the project
5. Itemized budget, including brief justification for each item, including stipends
6. Curriculum vitae or equivalent statement establishing the applicant’s background and qualifications relative to the proposed project. For collaborative efforts, please include names, contact information and synopses of qualifications for all who will contribute to the project. For students, please also include information on primary professor that you will be working with.
7. Contact information for three professional references

Submit research proposal responses by March 15 2019 to:

Attn: Mackenzie Greer
Berkshire Natural Resources Council
20 Bank Row
Pittsfield, MA 01201
For more project information contact Karro Frost, Plant Restoration Biologist, NHESP, at
508-389-6390 or karro.frost@mass.gov.
All responses must include all of the documents listed above. BE SURE TO INCLUDE ALL THE ITEMS LISTED OR YOUR RESPONSE WILL BE FOUND TO BE INCOMPLETE AND NON-RESPONSIVE.

References
Massachusetts 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan, Chapter 5 Climate Change and Massachusetts SGCN. https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/12/uo/ma-swap-public-draft-26june2015-chapter5.pdf
Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. 2015. Large-leaved Goldenrod, Solidago macrophylla Banks ex Pursch Fact Sheet. https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/09/tm/solidago-macrophylla-2015.pdf

Volunteer Highlight: Bob Watroba

Bob Watroba joined BNRC’s volunteer team about a year ago after being a long-time supporter. His first day in the field was helping to install bog bridging at Bob’s Way and we couldn’t have done it without him; both his work ethic and personality are superb.

When we asked about his favorite trail, Bob responded that his “…first choice would have to be the Basin Pond Trail with Bob’s Way as a close second. One of the main reasons is the close proximity to where I live in Becket, and the fact that the trail is a loop making it an easy roughly three mile hike. I was one of the trail stewards in 2018, getting to know it quite well and seeing it in all of the four seasons. It has numerous creeks and streams running throughout the property making it a picturesque place to explore, especially in the spring months with the snow melting, turning the small creeks and streams into raging brooks. The trail also has some great vistas of Basin Pond in the late fall and winter months. If you’re lucky, you can hear the call of hawks in the distance pursuing their prey along the shoreline. The short walk down on the Dam Spur trail brings you up close to the beaver dam and pond, that is always changing with the seasons.”

BNRC trail stewards are truly the backbone of keeping the 55+ miles of trails open to the public. They are the eyes and ears on the ground and as read in Bob’s in-depth description of Basin Pond, become connected to their trail.

“Being a long-time supporter of BNRC, one of the main reasons I volunteer is that it allows me to give back to the community of people who love and enjoy the natural beauty of the Berkshires. We sometimes have a tendency to take our natural environment for granted. The natural beauty that surrounds us here in the Berkshires needs to be protected and cared for. I’ve been an outdoors person and hiker for many years and have lived my entire life in the Berkshires. Being a nature photographer certainly gives me great pleasure exploring the numerous trails throughout western Massachusetts. Below are a few of my images of creatures that you may encounter along one of your hikes. I can’t think of a better way to give back than by volunteering and giving financial support to an organization that I believe in that does so much to protect our lands and forests.”

“This Edwin Way Teale quote comes to mind “Our minds, as well as our bodies, have need of the out-of-doors. Our spirits, too, need simple things, elemental things, the sun and the wind and the rain, moonlight and starlight, sunrise and mist and mossy forest trails, the perfumes of dawn and the smell of fresh -turned earth and the ancient music of wind among the trees.””

Bob, BNRC is so thankful to have you as both a supporter and volunteer. Cheers to you for keeping trails clear in 2019!

Bald Eagle by Bob Watroba

Great Blue Heron by Bob Watroba

 

Red Tail Hawk by Bob Watroba

Great Blue Heron in Tree by Bob Watroba

 

In Partnership, WRLF and BNRC conserve 82 acres in Williamstown

 

FOR RELEASE

January 14, 2019

Beautiful unspoiled mountain views, open fields, and a large stretch of the Green River are now conserved through a partnership of the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation and the Berkshire Natural Resources Council. Together with landowners Deborah Menaker Rothschild and David Rothschild, the conservation organizations protected the legacy of the Oleson and Brookman families which cared for the land on Old Mill Road since the 1920s.

While the land is not yet open to the public, in the future WRLF envisions a walking trail to and along the Green River. WRLF owns the fee interest in the land while BNRC holds a Conservation Restriction over it, ensuring there will be no further development on the land. A building lot remains along Old Mill Road in the ownership of the Rothschilds.

This tract is designated a “Distinctive” landscape in the state’s Scenic Landscape Inventory, its highest ranking.  The property contains over two thousand feet of frontage along the west branch of the Green River, a water body designated by the MassWildlife as a Coldwater Fisheries Resource – an important and sensitive wildlife habitat. The property also holds prime agricultural soils and prime forest, resources that can’t be replicated once gone. These natural resource values of the land are priorities for protection by WRLF and BNRC.

Projects like this wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through its Conservation Tax Credit Program which offers a helpful incentive for landowners who want to conserve their land, and support from the Town of Williamstown, which endorsed the conservation restriction over the land.

“We are so pleased to partner with BNRC to conserve this beautiful property,” said Phil McKnight, President of the WRLF.  “This property contains excellent wildlife habitat, extensive stream frontage, and a potential link for proposed long distance trails.  The Rothschilds’ generosity was instrumental in making this project happen.”

“Once land like this is gone, it’s gone forever,” said Jenny Hansell, President of the BNRC. “The Rothschilds understood the importance of protecting this beautiful parcel in perpetuity, and WRLF was a crucial partner in bring this project to fruition, so that generations to come can enjoy these lovely woodlands and open views.”

Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation is a non-profit, member-supported land conservation trust founded in 1986 and dedicated to preserving the rural New England character of Williamstown and the surrounding area.

Berkshire Natural Resources Council is a non-profit land conservation organization founded in 1967.  The Council currently protects over 12,000 acres with conservation restrictions and owns over 10,500 acres outright, with nearly sixty miles of trails open to the public.

Information about the two organizations and their upcoming events and properties is available at www.wrlf.org and www.bnrc.org.

Trails Coordinator Job Description

TrailsCoordinatorJobDescription.pdf

January 2019

Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) is a not-for-profit land trust working throughout Berkshire County, in western Massachusetts. BNRC manages 10,500 acres of fee-owned land and about 12,000 acres of conservation restrictions. The land trust conserves special places around the Berkshires and open them up for all to enjoy.  BNRC recently launched The High Road, a vision for connecting trails to towns and conservation lands to communities throughout our region.

Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) is seeking to fill an opening in its Stewardship Department for a Trails Coordinator.  

The position is appropriate for someone with 3-5 years of relevant professional post-college experience, with a pay range of approximately $40-45,000, depending on experience. For someone with additional previous experience including supervising a full-time staff, a higher salary and additional responsibilities is possible. The position is full-time, year round, with competitive benefits.

This position is intended to support BNRC’s mission to ensure “public benefit and enjoyment” of natural lands. The Trails Coordinator is expected to execute some of these responsibilities individually, but in many cases will serve as a project manager, delegating tasks and managing contractors, interns, volunteers and professional work crews. The Trails Coordinator will be expected to exercise skills of delegation, prioritization and problem-solving, and to relate in a warm and welcoming way to the public.


APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

Please submit a resume and cover letter detailing how your experience is relevant to this position:

Berkshire Natural Resources Council
c/o Front Desk
20 Bank Row
Pittsfield, MA 01201
or via email to frontdesk@bnrc.org.

Review of applications will begin February 5 and will continue until position is filled. 


Trails Coordinator Job Description

Creating and maintaining trails and other access improvements on BNRC’s properties.

Responsibilities:

  • Ongoing maintenance of trails, trailheads, signage, vistas, and other related public access improvements and features
  • Scout, plan and permit new/current trail projects
  • Review conservation projects prior to acquisition for public access potential, public access challenges, and implications for future stewardship needs
  • Procure and review plant and animal resource reports as needed for trail project planning
  • Construct new trail projects, responding to the needs of a wide variety of abilities and users
  • Supervise and coordinate construction and trail contractors
  • Hire, train, and supervise seasonal trail crew staff on trail projects and maintenance
  • Support volunteer coordinator to plan/lead volunteer projects
  • Assist other stewardship staff on a variety of tasks to care for and maintain BNRC’s conservation properties
  • Purchase (via BNRC procurement policy) and maintain trail building equipment
  • Ensure trail projects stay within annual budget; document expenditures according to BNRC financial policy
  • Support outreach coordinator by leading occasional hikes
  • Interact and communicate about BNRC, trail information and nature/ecology with the public, both in informal encounters and, as appropriate, planned events such as hikes and presentations
  • Other tasks as assigned by supervisor or BNRC president

Skills:

The Trails Coordinator will have the following:

Required Skills

  • Expertise in sustainable trail design and construction, including:
    • New trail layout and design
    • Construction of single-track trail systems for hikers and multiple uses.
    • Construction of stone and timber structures
  • Experience training and providing oversight to volunteers and/or seasonal staff
  • Experience selecting and working with contractors
  • Demonstrated ability to plan and carry out complex projects, including delegating, prioritizing and problem-solving
  • Proficiency in operation of chainsaws, brush cutters, and small engine machines
  • Proficiency in off-trail navigation including use of GPS and map/compass
  • Willingness to work outside/year-round, in all weather conditions
  • Ability to walk long distances over rough terrain carrying 40lbs
  • Proficiency in standard office software

Skills cont.:

Preferred additional skills:

  • Knowledge of Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and permitting process
  • Knowledge and identification of invasive species
  • Wilderness First Aid certification (or willingness to obtain)
  • Familiarity with Geographic Information Systems
  • Proficient in operation and maintenance of tractor
  • Environmental education and outreach

Accountabilities:

The Trails Coordinator will:

  • Exercise care and control of BNRC’s property access improvements, including infrastructure such access roads, trails, trailheads, related improvements and infrastructure such as gates, kiosks, culverts, boardwalks etc., as measured by the maintenance, repair or restoration of damages;
  • Exercise sound fiscal management, as measured by completion of projects on budget and on schedule;
  • With colleagues, advance the progress of the High Road, as measured by creating new trails and trail linkages, and planning strategically for expansion of the network and BNRC’s capacity to deliver; and
  • Create and maintain an inviting and welcoming atmosphere for visitors at selected BNRC reserves, as measured by creation of well-designed trails and trailheads and the installation and maintenance of clear informational and navigational signage.

Key Personal Interactions:

  • Staff colleagues: this position will seek and provide consultation with his or her colleagues to ensure that conservation, stewardship and outreach initiatives are integrated across the organization.
  • Volunteers: The coordinator will welcome volunteer support. He or she will coach, train volunteers to do effective work. He or she will make volunteers feel valued and impactful.
  • Contractors: The coordinator will recognize that some tasks are best assigned to professional contractors and consultants in order to achieve best results most effectively. He or she will make task objectives clear, will establish clear expectations for deliverable services, and will establish cooperative working relations with contractors and consultants.
  • Partners:  The coordinator will cultivate constructive and empathetic relationships with land and trail partners, including private landowners who have given trail easements, and colleagues at state conservation agencies and NGOs.

The Library in the Wilderness Program

The Library in the Wilderness program provides access to essential hiking supplies to have a safe, fun, and educational outdoor experience as well as workshops on hiking, tracking, local flora and fauna, and land stewardship.

Community members, with a library card in good standing, can check out hiking backpacks from the Berkshire Athenaeum, fully equipped with field guides, BNRC trail guides, a basic first-aid kit, a compass, binoculars, a magnifying glass, bug spray, two ponchos, and an observational journal. 

The backpacks are available for a 1-week checkout and reservations are required.

 

Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC), in partnership with the Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s Public Library, initiated this program in 2018.

 

 

 

Seasonal Trail Crew: Two Positions Available

SeasonalTrailCrewJobDescription.pdf

Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC), a private, non-profit land trust based in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is hiring two Trail Crew positions for the 2019 season.

BNRC has over 55 miles of trail, with more to be built in 2019. Trail Crew members will work with the Trails Coordinator to construct and maintain new and existing trails. The crew may work alongside contracted youth and professional trail crews. The Trail Crew will also assist with a variety of other stewardship tasks as needed. Applicants must have a high level of self-motivation, as the crew will often be unsupervised. The 40-hour/week position provides a $13 hourly wage and free housing in a rustic cabin on Onota Lake in Pittsfield. The season runs from May 28th to August 30th with flexibility on both ends.

Responsibilities:

  • Trail maintenance and construction
  • Tool/equipment maintenance
  • Work/communication with youth and professional trail crews
  • Public outreach (e.g., leading hikes, communicating with hikers, etc.)

Requirements:

  • Experience with hand tools
  • Trail crew experience preferred (tread work, rock/timber structure, etc.)
  • Ability to work unsupervised
  • Comfort with being alone in the woods
  • Ability to carry a 50-pound pack for 10 miles over rough terrain
  • Willingness to work outside in all weather conditions
  • Personal transportation

Opportunities and Experience:

  • Free housing on Lake Onota in Pittsfield (org/contact-us-2/employment/ for photos of housing)
  • Trail work experience and training
  • Work alongside professional trail crews
  • Learn about land conservation in the Berkshires

Interviews will be set up on a rolling basis starting Monday, February 4th until the positions are filled.  Please submit a cover letter, resume and three references to Nicole Pyser, npyser@bnrc.org.  Additional information can be found at www.bnrc.org.

Please note: BNRC is also hiring two Seasonal Stewardship positions. Visit www.bnrc.org/contact-us-2/employment/ to view the position description. If interested, you can apply for both the Stewardship Crew and Trail Crew with one application, just make a note when sending it in.

The seasonal positions and housing are made possible by John Rice and family.

Seasonal Stewardship Crew: Two Positions Available

SeasonalStewardshipCrewJobDescription.pdf

Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC), a private, non-profit land trust based in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is offering two Seasonal Stewardship Crew positions to individuals exploring a career in the environmental field.

With nearly 23,000 acres under BNRC supervision, the crew will assist BNRC’s Stewardship Coordinator with Conservation Restriction (easement) monitoring and maintenance of reserve boundaries. The crew may also assist with outreach events such as free guided hikes and volunteer workdays, and will occasionally collaborate with the Seasonal Trail Crew. The 40-hour/week position provides a $13 hourly wage and free lodging in a rustic cabin on Onota Lake in Pittsfield. The Stewardship Crew will enjoy a high level of independence and a large amount of self-motivation is required. There is a mix of approximately 80% field work to 20% office work. The seasonal position dates are May 28th to August 30th, with flexibility on both ends.

Responsibilities:

  • Conservation Restriction monitoring
  • Reserve boundary marking and maintenance
  • Public Outreach (e.g., leading hikes, tabling, public events, etc.)
  • Occasional assistance with trail construction and maintenance
  • Other stewardship related tasks as required

Requirements:

  • Ability to work unsupervised
  • Comfort with being alone in the woods
  • Ability to carry a 35 pound pack for 10 miles over rough terrain
  • Willingness to work long days outside in all weather conditions
  • Strong communication skills
  • Personal transportation

Opportunities and Experience:

  • Experience with Conservation Restrictions
  • Orienteering and boundary maintenance skills
  • Basic understanding of land management techniques and challenges
  • Basic understanding of trail maintenance and construction
  • Free housing on Lake Onota in Pittsfield (bnrc.org/contact-us-2/employment/ for photos of housing)

Interviews will be set up on a rolling basis starting Monday, February 4th until the positions are filled.  Please submit a cover letter, resume and three references to Nicole Pyser, npyser@bnrc.org. Additional information can be found at www.bnrc.org.

Please note: BNRC is also hiring two Seasonal Trail Crew positions. Visit www.bnrc.org/contact-us-2/employment/ to view the position description. If interested, you can apply for both the Stewardship Crew and Trail Crew with one application, just make a note when sending it in.

The seasonal positions and housing are made possible by John Rice and family.