Berkshire Natural Resources Council Blog

Landkeeper's Blog

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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 –

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 – 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.


John Hyson


Parsons Marsh Accessible Trail Opening a success thanks to you!


Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

On Saturday, September 15, 2018 more than 200 visitors of all ages came to preview Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s new accessible trail at Parsons Marsh in Lenox. The 1,800 foot accessible trail and boardwalk gives visitors an intimate experience through a meadow, forested wetland and an exquisite marsh—a habitat that would otherwise be very difficult to access.

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

To kick off the event, renowned Berkshire birder Ed Neumuth led a bird walk for early visitors. He reported “a female Scarlet Tanager, Wood Duck, great looks at a male Hairy Woodpecker and from the platform shortly after the walk, at least 2 kettles of migrating Broad-winged Hawks numbering well over a hundred birds!”

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

BNRC president Jenny Hansell gave welcoming remarks, acknowledging the outpouring of support that led to the conservation of 183 acres in the Undermountain Valley. Ken Fowler, Chairman of the Lenox Selectboard, and BNRC board member Pat Callahan joined forces to cut the grapevine ribbon with golden loppers to commemorate the opening of the trail. Visitors were then encouraged to check out the trail and enjoy the delightful music of The Russet Trio.

Due to delays caused by extreme summer weather, trail construction is not quite complete and the Parsons Marsh reserve will be closed for another week or so while construction is going on. Please be patient as the professional trail construction crew, Peter S. Jensen & Associates, works their magic on the site. We will announce when the trail is fully open, most likely right at the beginning of October.

Please call BNRC at 413-499-0596 or email with any questions!

Be sure to check our list of upcoming hikes and events for four upcoming guided Parsons Marsh experiences.

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy


2018 September Enews: Parsons Marsh trail opening is right around the corner!

The Old Mill Trail Volunteer Workday, Hinsdale 

Help to maintain and support native plants on this beautiful trail!

Saturday, October 27th 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Join BNRC and HVA at this work party for the Old Mill Trail. We’ll be raking the trail, installing ramps on two of the bridges to improve accessibility, removing invasive plants and transporting gravel to raise the trail surface in some sections. Gloves, tools and lunch will be provided. Please bring water and wear sturdy shoes.

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 or 413-499-0596.

Hoosac Range Volunteer Workday, North Adams

Help to update the trail blazes.

Friday, October 5th 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K Murphy

Join BNRC’s Stewardship Staff to update trail blazes on this popular and historic trail! 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.


From North Adams: Take Route 2 east. Past the hairpin, on the top of the hill, the parking and trailhead will be on your right.

From Pittsfield: Take Route 8 North, at the Cumberland Farms in North Adams, take a right onto 8A. Then take a right, heading east on Route 2. The trailhead parking is on the right at the top of the hill, immediately after the Wigwam Cabins.

Please RSVP to Mariah at or 413-499-0596.

Olivia’s Overlook at Yokun Ridge South Volunteer Workday, Stockbridge/Richmond

Help to clear the waterbars on the Burbank Trail and Old Baldhead Road.

Tuesday, September 18th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K Murphy

Improve trail water drainage by clearing and re-shaping waterbars for rain runoff. Please wear sturdy closed-toe shoes and bring water. BNRC will provide all tools and gloves.


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 or 413-499-0596.

Parsons Marsh Trail Opening Event, Lenox

Photo Credit: Gabrielle K Murhpy

Looking for volunteers to fill short shifts and help with parking, kid’s activities, tabling, crowd welcoming and clean-up.

Saturday, September 15th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Directions: Stonover Farm’s Event Parking Area, across from 169 Undermountain Rd, Lenox, MA 01240.

Please RSVP to Mariah at or 413-499-0596.