Berkshire Natural Resources Council Blog

Landkeeper's Blog

Join us in our mission to keep land open for everyone to visit and enjoy.
Scroll down to see what we're up to!

Join Berkshire Natural Resources Council as our 2019-2020 TerraCorps Member

PDF of TerraCorps Position

TerraCorps, is an innovative national service program helping communities conserve and secure land for the health and well-being of people and nature. Using the AmeriCorps national service model, TerraCorps prepares and mobilizes emerging leaders to help strengthen community-based nonprofits working to meet these goals.

This year’s TerraCorps program will support up to forty-eight full-time AmeriCorps Members, serving in one of five positions: Land Stewardship Coordinator (LSC), Regional Collaboration Coordinator (RCC), Community Engagement Coordinator (CEC), Youth Education Coordinator (YEC), or Urban Agriculture Coordinator (UAC).  Members will serve in full-time, 11-month terms (August 26th, 2019-July 31st, 2020) in which they complete at least 1,700 hours of service with one of our partner organizations. Members receive a living allowance, education award, and additional AmeriCorps benefits (see full list at end of announcement).

Berkshire Natural Resources Council will host a Regional Collaboration Coordinator for the 2019-20 service year. Information about all TerraCorps positions is available at terracorps.org.

2019 Regional Collaboration Coordinator with Berkshire Natural Resources Council
Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC)
20 Bank Row, Suite 203
Pittsfield, MA 01201
(413) 499-0596
bnrc.org

Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s mission is “To protect and preserve the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Berkshires for public benefit and enjoyment.” BNRC has been protecting land in Berkshire County for 50 years. We own nearly 10,500 acres in fee, containing over 50 miles of maintained trails. BNRC is responsible for protecting an additional 12,000 acres of land in Berkshire County through perpetual Conservation Restrictions with private land owners. In addition, BNRC recently launched its High Road initiative which envisions a county-wide trail network connecting conservation to towns, for the benefit of residents and visitors. This long-range effort requires durable partnerships and creative collaboration between numerous sectors in the county, including other conservation organizations, with the potential to achieve vast public benefits. The High Road endeavors to complement the existing abundance of conservation land in the Berkshires for the benefit of wildlife and ecology at local and regional scales. This initiative is intended to realize more from our local recreational economy and increase quality of life for our residents. As a further benefit, BNRC is deepening its partnerships with the conservation community and the greater Berkshire community.

Regional Collaboration Coordinators (RCC) build the long-term capacity of their Service Sites by assessing community needs related to land conservation and land access and then organizing collaborative community projects to help meet these needs. By educating, community members and partner organizations, RCCs empower diverse people to create healthy, vibrant communities.

TerraCorps members engage with their supervisors to develop and carry out three or more capacity building projects over the course of the service year. Some of these projects will involve recruiting, training, and/or managing community volunteers Berkshire Natural Resources Council has proposed the following potential project for their Regional Collaboration Coordinator:

  • Taking a previous TerraCorps project to the next level by collaborating with local partners to analyze and develop strategies for particular High Road connectivity projects. The High Road is BNRC’s vision to connect conservation land and trails to towns throughout Berkshire County. The specific project can be catered toward the experience and strengths of the TerraCorps Member but will likely include intensive mapping analyses, GIS-based data collection and input, and project development including collaborations with local land trusts, neighbors to conservation land, trail users, and/or municipal and state agencies. The member will organize small, regional working groups to identify places of collaboration and planning and also serve with volunteers to inventory potential High Road route options. https://www.bnrc.org/the-high-road/

Development of these and other projects will occur during the first two months of service and consider the member’s interests and skills.

Required AmeriCorps Qualifications

  • A US citizen, US national, or Lawful Permanent Resident Alien of the U.S.
  • At least 18 years old
  • A minimum of a high school diploma or GED
  • No more than three previous terms as an AmeriCorps member
  • Pass a criminal history background check, including an FBI check

Desired Qualifications

 

  • Strong writing and verbal communication skills
  • Able to serve both independently and as a member of a team
  • Comfort navigating computer software programs (GIS, Microsoft office programs)
  • Training and experience pertinent to the Regional Collaboration Coordinator position and projects listed above
  • Experience training and educating community members and volunteers
  • Associates degree or higher and/or certificate, training, or internship in a field related to landscape architecture, urban or regional planning, real estate law, food systems planning, natural resource planning, or other related fields.
    • A strong interest and or experience in land conservation, land use planning, and/or real estate law
    • Experience in local government and/or civic organizations

For questions about Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s service positions, contact Mariah Auman at mauman@bnrc.org or 413-499-0596.

AmeriCorps Member Eligibility Requirements

This year’s TerraCorps members will serve from August 26th, 2019-July 31st, 2020. All members are expected to serve full-time, commit to serve for the entire 11-month term, and complete at least 1,700 hours of service, including time spent in trainings and service with the full TerraCorps team. Weekly service averages 38 hours and commonly includes some night and/or weekend activities.

AmeriCorps programs provide equal opportunities. TerraCorps will recruit and select persons in all positions to ensure a diverse and inclusive climate without regard to race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, veteran status, color, political affiliation, creed, national origin, marital status, or any other status as protected by federal, state, and local laws. We encourage applications from individuals with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodations for interviews and service upon request.

Member Compensation and Benefits

  • TerraCorps members will receive a living allowance of up to $14,600 (pre-tax) over the 11-month term of service, which is $608.33 (pre-tax) per 24 biweekly pay periods.
  • TerraCorps assists members in obtaining health insurance coverage. Reimbursement of costs may be available.
  • Childcare assistance may be provided in cases of financial need.
  • Upon successful completion of a term of service, AmeriCorps members receive a taxable $6,095 education award that can be used for future education or to pay off existing school loans. See gov/resources/edaward for info and restrictions.
  • TerraCorps members are eligible for forbearance of most federally-guaranteed student loans, as well as payment of interest accrued during service.
  • TerraCorps members will receive mentorship, training, and career development opportunities while serving directly with community-based nonprofits.
  • TerraCorps members experience the personal rewards of national service
    and community engagement.

Note: TerraCorps members are responsible for their own housing and must have access to reliable transportation.

How to Apply

2019-2020 Service Site organizations, service positions, and application procedures are described at terracorps.org.

A complete member application includes a 1-page cover letter, a resume, three references, and an application form. Member application and detailed instructions can be found at https://terracorps.org/become-a-member/.

Member applications will be available for viewing by all our service sites. Do not send applications directly to a service site.

We strongly encourage interested individuals to apply as soon as possible. Position offers and acceptances will be made on a rolling basis. The program aims to fill all positions by late June, but Service Sites will continue interviews as needed until all positions are filled.

For questions about TerraCorps, contact Hanna Mogensen, who manages TerraCorps’ recruitment process. Email admin@terracorps.org or call 978-364-9770 x2.

Additional Information About this Program

TerraCorps We seek to create change by achieving a broader, more authentic engagement of the diverse peoples living in our communities. When we do this, resources will grow, access to land will increase, the pace of land conservation will accelerate, and whole communities will achieve more resilient futures. To learn more about TerraCorps, visit: terracorps.org.

AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 men and women in intensive service each year through more than 15,000 nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. AmeriCorps members help communities tackle pressing problems and also leverage their service by mobilizing volunteers to help address community needs for environmental stewardship, health, education, economic opportunity, disaster services, and support to veterans and military families. To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit americorps.gov.

TerraCorps is a grant program contingent upon renewal of federal funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). CNCS grants to AmeriCorps programs in Massachusetts are administered by the Massachusetts Service Alliance.

The Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA, mass-service.org) is a private, nonprofit organization that serves as the state commission on community service and volunteerism. MSA’s mission is to catalyze the innovation and growth of service and volunteerism by creating partnerships that maximize resources, expertise, capacity, and impact. TerraCorps is one of 23 AmeriCorps programs for which MSA currently administers funding and supports program implementation.

The Berkshires, Past, Present and Future

Karen Ross, volunteer and board member, reflects on life growing up in the woods.

My dream job?  Working as a volunteer for BNRC for almost 20 years. And how did I get so lucky?

Growing up in Pittsfield was a delight, especially if you loved the outdoors with its readily available hiking, skiing, and swimming. And then, Oh these mountains—what a lovely backdrop to be sheltered within. As kids we used to be “shooed” out the door and could run off to the woods to wander around, investigate ponds, and yes, even drink the stream water! Childhood experiences like these naturally morphed into an adult realization of how vulnerable our natural places and resources are. What could be better than working to protect them!

When I returned to the Berkshires in the later 70s, there was BNRC starting to make a real impact on conserving lands. By 2001 it was going strong, and I offered to do some volunteer work—whatever was needed. At that time, another hand to manage office files, help digitize records, get mailings out, paint boundaries, get conservation restriction monitoring done, and check out prospective acquisitions was welcome. It was a heady time as land trusts were becoming more professional and accountable and were more and more in the public eye, taking on additional roles as stewards of conserved lands, as educators, and as sources of recreational opportunities. I was hooked.

I loved being in the office, gathering a group of friends to stuff envelopes or making “to do” lists of issues that needed attention, but even more I loved tramping about on properties, trailing after interns and stewardship staff through the prickers and underbrush, my clipboard in hand, trying to figure out property lines by measuring UTM grids on a map (it was pre GPS/GIS days) and taking notes on the habitats and features of prospective parcels. We responsibly monitored easements and documented flora and fauna and parcel conditions. These were all wonderful days.

Each year of volunteering has been a pleasure. The people I’ve met—landowners who love their land and want to preserve it, neighbors of BNRC’s properties who come out to clean up and maintain the trails, volunteers who show up to haul mud, cut out invasives, and blaze trails—all share a deep affection for the Berkshires and the future of open space. It’s been a continuing honor to work with BNRC’s outstanding and dedicated staff. They have always made me feel so welcome, and I think that’s true for all our volunteers. I do less climbing up cliffs and balancing on slippery stone walls these days, but there’s always a job that needs doing that a willing volunteer can do. It’s been fun to be part of the lively tribal spirit that drives people to dedicate their working lives to preserving and caring for the natural resources of the Berkshires. Might I say that they are doing the hard work of making sure we have a viable future for our grandchildren.

I have so many favorite BNRC properties. Each is unique and offers something special in atmosphere, views or experiences. The buffet of opportunities out there is endless!  And I have no intention of dieting!  Most recently, BNRC has worked to acquire lands along the ridge that extends from Hollow Fields in Richmond north to Rt. 20 in Hancock, which is not far from where I live. I and some neighbors have maintained the Perry’s Peak trail up there hoping it would someday be a public way and am thrilled that BNRC’s Berkshire Farm acquisition will mean protection in perpetuity for these historic lands. One of our local hiking groups, the Taconic Hiking Club, is benefiting from a collaborative process with BNRC to bring attention to this ridge and to help steward it. Networks and collaborations like these bring together communities of hikers, bikers, birdwatchers, and all lovers of the outdoors.

Having a role on BNRC’s Board these past several years also brings a new dimension to my “job,” one that adds a different perspective to the important work that is being done throughout the county. Efforts to realize the High Road goals are in progress, and I hope someday I get to walk the first stretch that will be signed as a segment of “The High Road.”  Every association I have with BNRC only increases my conviction that it richly deserves its stellar reputation.

BNRC has woven itself deeply into our Berkshire lives and all of us—locals, second-homers, vacationers, and recreationists of all stripes—benefit. Look in any direction from any town, and you’ll find a nearby property where BNRC offers places for hiking, biking, skiing, dog walking, hunting, or just experiencing the beauty of this region.

I can’t imagine the Berkshires without BNRC. We are lucky beyond belief to have them working here to make our lives so much better, and it’s an honor to be part of the BNRC family. You’re welcome to join us if you haven’t already!

 

2019 February Enews

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.

Volunteer Highlight: Karen Ross

Karen began volunteering her time with BNRC in 2001, “doing monitoring, blazing, boundary marking, trail clearing, map making, writing, editing, documentation—whatever was needed—when George Wislocki was still president. It was a scrappy, hard-fighting organization with deep connections to sportsmen and a small group of supporters. Under Tad Ames’ leadership I’ve seen it merge with the digital world, take its place among top-ranked land trusts, earn the respect of a multitude of constituents, and operate according to the highest best-industry practices. Now under Jenny Hansell we can watch the unfolding of a county-wide system of interlocked trails called The High Road. Witnessing 17 years of institutional change has been a delight, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the best staff anywhere who work tirelessly to help conserve some of the most spectacular spaces in the Berkshires, to make them accessible for recreation and then to get us out there to enjoy it all.”

When we asked if she had a favorite BNRC property, she responded that she can’t pick just one. “Each of the “flagship” properties like Yokun Ridge has its special trails and places, but I hold a tender spot for the lesser known properties—peaceful Hallowell in Lenox with its lovely brook, tiny Kessler’s easy trails in Lanesborough. The Day property in Great Barrington with its unusual hospital history and beautiful forest, and Jackson in Stockbridge with the nice long boardwalk and birding opportunities.  But then there are days when one HAS to go do the gladed loop in Stevens Glen and think about the dances once held on the glen platform, or one MUST take in the vistas at Hollow Fields and imagine the Morgan horses of its past trotting through.”

Karen offered insightful and motivating reasons to volunteer. “What can be better in these times than helping preserve what we are losing so quickly and carelessly—our open space, rural lands, and forests. Any efforts we make to value our natural resources and protect them help provide a chance for a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.  There is no better or more meaningful way to spend my time than to work for an organization like BNRC. Plus, it’s great fun. Come join us!” Karen also serves as a board member for BNRC.

When you see Karen and her two golden retrievers on the trail, ask her about conservation, ask her about northeast trails and beyond, ask her about community organizing. You’ll receive an answer filled with contagious enthusiasm! Thank you, Karen!

 

Stockbridge Land Trust Annual Meeting

Dear Friends of Stockbridge,

The colors of autumn highlight the natural beauty of Stockbridge. And much of that beauty is a product of conservation restrictions obtained by the Stockbridge Land Trust. You can learn more about these properties by visiting the Land Trust’s website – www.stockbridgelandtrust.org.

Since its founding in 1987, the Land Trust’s fifteen-member board of directors has worked to preserve Stockbridge’s open spaces, forests, farmlands, wetlands, waterways, and other natural resources.

We invite you to learn more about the work of the Land Trust at its annual meeting on Saturday, September 29th, at 10 a.m. The meeting will take place at one of the Land Trust’s most prized properties, the Chestnut Preserve on Route 7, south of the town center. There is ample parking at the site and there will be light refreshments.

TAKE THE HIGH ROAD – that is the main topic at this year’s meeting. Our speaker will be Jenny Hansell, president of Berkshire Natural Resources Council. The mission of BNRC is the same as that of the Land Trust but its geographic scope is broader: the whole of the Berkshires. Jenny’s presentation will focus primarily upon BNRC’s ambitious program to create a “High Road” – a hiking path that will traverse Berkshire County.

The Land Trust could not carry out its mission without financial support from the Stockbridge community. The enclosed envelope provides an opportunity for you to support the Peter Berle Fund, created in memory of a former past president of the Land Trust who was also president of the National Audubon Society. The Berle Fund is the Land Trust’s environmental “war chest” — enabling the Land Trust to help preserve land when an unexpected opportunity arises with a short window to act.

If you prefer, you can contribute to the Land Trust by credit card or PayPal – which can be effectuated on our website – www.stockbridgelandtrust.org. Those who contribute $100 or more will receive a packet of five note cards which feature the winning photographs in the Land Trust’s annual photo contest. A sampling of these photos can be found on the Land Trust’s website.

Thank you for your support of our efforts to preserve the natural resources of Stockbridge.

Sincerely,

John Hyson

President