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!

Hoosac Range/Mahican-Mohawk Trail Maintenance Day, North Adams/Adams (5 volunteers)

Trail clearing along the Hoosac Range!

Saturday, June 8th, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Join us for a fun day of trail clean-up on the Hoosac Range. We’ll hike the Mahican-Mohawk Trail from BNRC’s Hoosac Range trailhead to the Savoy State Forest Campground, totaling about 8 miles. Our focus will be to clear the trail corridor for the spring and summer season!

Directions: Meet at the Savoy Mountain State Forest Campground, 310 Central Shaft Rd, Florida, MA 01247. We’ll spot vehicles there and then caravan to the Hoosac Range trailhead.

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

Mahanna Cobble Trail Work, Pittsfield (5-10 volunteers)

CrossFit day on the mountain (round 2)!

Wednesday, June 19th, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

The new Mahanna Cobble Trail is planned to be completed this year! Sections of the new trail need a thick layer of soil for a sustainable walking tread. Join the seasonal BNRC trail crew on the mountain to help move this project forward. We say CrossFit on the mountain, because it will be a digging and hauling soil kind of day. The hike up to the work site will be a moderate climb. BNRC will provide all tools and gloves.

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

Directions: We’ll meet in the parking lot of Bousquet Ski Area, 101 Dan Fox Dr, Pittsfield, MA 01201.

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

Mahanna Cobble Trail Work, Pittsfield (5-10 volunteers)

CrossFit on the mountain!

Tuesday, May 14th, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

The new Mahanna Cobble Trail is planned to be completed this year! Sections of the new trail need a thick layer of soil for a sustainable walking tread. Join us on the mountain to help move this project forward. We say CrossFit on the mountain, because it will be a digging and hauling soil kind of day. The hike up to the work site will be a moderate climb. BNRC will provide all tools and gloves.

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

Directions: We’ll meet in the parking lot of Bousquet Ski Area, 101 Dan Fox Dr, Pittsfield, MA 01201.

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

Division Street Boat Launch Clean-Up, Great Barrington (5 volunteers)

Let’s get the new boat launch in tip-top shape for the paddling season!

Wednesday, May 1st, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Berkshire Natural Resources Council in partnership with the Housatonic Valley Association, just completed the installation of a new canoe launch and parking area along the Housatonic River on Division Street in Great Barrington. We’ll spend the afternoon picking up trash along the riverbank and surrounding area. BNRC will provide gloves and bags.

Please wear sturdy shoes and bring water.

Directions:

From Great Barrington: Take Route 41 North for about 2 miles. Turn right onto Division Street. The parking area is on your left directly after crossing the bridge over the Housatonic River.

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

The Old Mill Trail Workday, Hinsdale (5-10 volunteers)

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

Saturday, April 27th 9:00 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 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 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 call 413-499-0596.

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.

2019 April Enews


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!