Berkshire Natural Resources Council Blog

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A Land Trust’s Role in Expanding the Narrative in Mohican Homelands

Almost 40% of land in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, part of the homelands of the Mohican Nation, is currently conserved. This land is under private and public ownership and hosts numerous recreational trails that are open and widely used by the public. Along trails you’ll likely see stone walls or a stone foundation—evidence of European settlers clearing the land for agriculture during the 18th and 19th centuries. That landscape history is widely discussed and well known. Yet the history and current engagements of Indigenous Peoples to this land are more hidden and less known.

Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) has been working to “protect and preserve that natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Berkshires for public benefit and enjoyment” for over 50 years and has protected over 22,000 acres of land throughout the county. With over 55 miles of trails open to the public, BNRC is interested in helping those of all ages establish a connection to the land. That connection can be deepened by storytelling. The past and present story of the Mohican Nation is one that BNRC is eager to share with all who engage with their homeland.

BNRC recognizes that we can play an active role in helping to expand the public’s awareness of the narrative of Indigenous Peoples. We are very thankful for the partnership, support, and volunteered time of the Stockbridge-Munsee Language & Culture Committee for developing language for two interpretive signs and to Stockbridge Munsee Tribal Council for approving these signs. The signs are now standing at BNRC’s Hoosac Range Reserve in North Adams and Thomas & Palmer Brook Reserve in Great Barrington.

An excerpt from one interpretive sign says “The lands in the Berkshires continue to be of great significance to the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican people… [who] continue to value its history and promote public educational opportunities such as historical trips, walking tours, and history events that promote the Tribe’s presence and celebrate its heritage.”

Including these narratives on the lands we now care for promotes an understanding and acknowledgement of what was and what is. It also encourages the awakening of a wider social and ecological consciousness. BNRC looks forward to future partnerships and welcomes feedback and conversations on additional ways to contribute.

 

frontdesk@bnrc.org

(413) 499-0596

2019 October Enews


Bring the apple cider and they will come.

Harvest season kicked off with a new bridge for the Threemile Hill Trail

Photo by Gabrielle K. Murphy

Volunteers and representatives from MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Great Barrington Land Conservancy (GBLC), and Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) gathered at Fountain Pond on a chilly September morning. The goal for the day was to replace a rustic footbridge along the Threemile Hill Trail.

Background was given about the power of partnership before the workday began from GBLC, DCR, and BNRC representatives. The Threemile Hill Trail crosses property owned by DCR, BNRC, and Berkshire South Community Center and was accomplished through the Great Barrington Trails & Greenways collaboration. This trail connects to the more recent Community Health Programs Loop which has increased public use. Adam Morris, Forest and Park Regional Coordinator (DCR), also told the story of the land history and how what we see today is a clue into the past.

  

Photo by Gabrielle K. Murphy

With an elevated understanding of the project, the crew began plugging away at the needed tasks: measuring the bridge site, felling two trees, bucking up and then debarking the trees, moving the prepared logs to their new home, securing them, and lastly, applying the finishing touches—easy enough? Absolutely, with a group of spirited volunteers! Five hours later (with a break for lunch, cider, and apple cake) the project was complete!

The end result was satisfying to say the least. All involved left with a huge sense of gratitude for the artistic skills and physical efforts that go into trail structures and maintenance.

Click here for maps and trail information.

Photo by Gabrielle K. Murphy

Photo by Gabrielle K. Murphy

2019 September Enews

Wrenegade Berkshire Farm to Fork Fondo (2+ volunteers)

Berkshire Fondo website

 

Volunteer with BNRC at the Wrenegade Berkshire Farm to Fork Fondo on September 28-29 and enjoy the music and festival market after your shift!

The event is based at Hancock Shaker Village.

Event Description: An organized bicycle ride where you get to choose the distance best for you and stop for chef-prepared bites at farms along the way.

What’s special about Farm to Fork Fondo volunteers? Every person who participates in the Volunteer Competition supports a worthy local cause. Our Volunteer Competition challenges farms and organizations to bring the most spirit to the Fondo in a way that represents their mission while volunteers help participants stay hydrated, fueled up, and most of all – have fun!

BNRC is looking for a team to help with:

  • Parking on Saturday 9/28 from 3:30-7:00pm, or Sunday 9/29 7:00-8:30am
  •  Do a shift in the cyclists finish line tent on Sunday 9/29 from 11:00am-3:00pm, or 2:00pm-5:00pm

If interested, please contact Rich Montone at rmontone@bnrc.org or 413-499-0596.

Alford Springs Workday (5-10 volunteers)

Friday, October 11, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Clear the trail corridor of the 4.3-mile Father Loop.

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

Directions:

From Great Barrington: Take Taconic Avenue, which becomes Alford Road. Drive past Simon’s Rock to a left on Seekonk Road; follow Seekonk Road (becomes Green River Road) for 3.6 miles. Turn right on to Mountain Road (if you come to the New York State line, you’ve gone too far). Follow Mountain Road for 0.8 miles, bearing left at the first “Y” and left again at the sharp right turn at 0.8 miles.

From Pittsfield: Take Route 20 West and turn left onto Route 41 heading south. Drive to Great Barrington and turn right onto Division Street which becomes Seekonk Road. Follow Seekonk Road which becomes Green River Road, turning right on Mountain Road (if you cross the NY state border you have gone a little too far. Follow Mountain Road for 0.8 miles, bearing left at the first “Y” and left again at the sharp right turn at 0.8 miles.

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

Burbank Trail Workday (5 volunteers)

Thursday, September 26, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Help to shape and clean out the water bars on the Burbank Trail!

Please wear sturdy shoes and bring water and a snack.

Directions to Olivia’s Overlook:

From Lenox: 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 West Stockbridge: 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.

From Pittsfield: 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.

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

Old Mill Trail Workday (10-15 volunteers)

Wednesday, September 18, 4:00 pm – 6:30 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 primarily be focusing on the removal of garlic mustard and also do some regular maintenance on the trail (raking, pulling weeds from the trail surface). BNRC will provide all tools and gloves.

Please wear sturdy shoes and bring water and a 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 call 413-499-0596.

Richmond Land Trust Pie Social (5 volunteers)

Saturday, September 7, 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm

Help BNRC and the Richmond Land Trust with parking and set up for the RLT’s annual Pie Social. Volunteers will be asked to help out with for a portion of the time with parking, set up and break down, but will also be able to enjoy the event and eat plenty of pie!

Directions:

From Great Barrington: Take Route 41 north into Richmond. After passing Route 295, Perry’s 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. Please do not park directly on Perry’s Peak Road in any season.
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’s Peak Road. Parking is signed, second red barn on the left. Please do not park directly on Perry’s Peak Road in any season.

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