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!

SEASONAL TRAIL CONSTRUCTION ASSISTANT

SeasonalTrailConstructionAsst.pdf

This is a seasonal position (approximately August- October) focusing on the construction of new hiking trails and reconstruction of existing trails on Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s properties.  The majority of the season will be spent building single track tread, constructing stone and/or timber trail features such as retaining wall, steps, and patio-laid stone.  Other duties may include hiking other established trails to clear blowdowns, make minor repairs and assess other trail needs.

Essential Functions

  • Performs both basic and advanced trail work (with appropriate training and guidance) to a high standard of quality.
  • Performs heavy reconstructive trail work including, but not limited to: single track tread construction, tread hardening, rock construction (cribbing, staircases).
  • Works collaboratively as part of the Trails Team, with other staff across the organization, and with volunteers.
  • Uses and maintains vehicles, tools and equipment to the highest safety standards.
  • Other duties as assigned with or without accommodation.

Qualifications

  • Minimum of one year or season of professional experience in construction, landscaping, or other trades associated with the responsibilities of the position.
  • Ability to work independently as well as collaboratively with other team members.
  • Ability to complete assigned projects and tasks, meet deadlines and manage multiple tasks.
  • Ability to learn on the job and adopt specific construction methods and skills as prescribed.
  • Commitment to natural resource protection and Leave No Trace ethics.
  • Strong commitment to quality work and a positive attitude.

Work Requirements                                        

  • Must be able to hike with up to 50 pounds of gear and tools.
  • Must be willing to work outdoors in adverse weather conditions.
  • Must be able to travel throughout Berkshire County to work in remote locations.
  • Valid driver’s license and reliable vehicle required.
  • Experience working with volunteer groups preferred.
  • Interest in learning about trail design and treatments and developing trail building skills

Benefits and Salary

This is a seasonal, non-exempt, hourly paid position, based in Pittsfield, MA.

Pay starting at $13.  Please direct inquiries to Tyler Fogg at Tfogg@bnrc.org or (413) 499-0596.

BNRC UPGRADES POPULAR TRAILS FOR 2019 SUMMER SEASON

Enhanced kiosks and on-trail signage will improve visitors’ nature experience

June 12 , 2019

LENOX, Massachusetts

On Monday, June 10, State Representative Smitty Pignatelli (4th Berkshire) joined members of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) Board of Directors, volunteers, staff, and nature trail enthusiasts to unveil a redesigned trailhead kiosk and enhanced on-trail signage at BNRC’s flagship conservation reserve, Yokun Ridge South at Olivia’s Overlook. Similar upgrades have also been completed at 16 other BNRC trail sites across Berkshire County. All 54 BNRC reserves are open to the public year-round from dawn to dusk, free of charge.

From left to right: BNRC president Jenny Hansell, State Representative Smitty Pignatelli, Land Donor Tom Stokes, BNRC founding director George Wislocki, Land Donor Jim Hatch, and BNRC board member Don MacGillis.

     

Each updated kiosk features a large map of the reserve and its trail system; notes on the natural, cultural, and
ownership history of the protected lands; and suggested activities for each property.  Also available at the kiosks are free, newly revised paper trail maps for visitor use. Easier-to-read on-trail signage, mostly in the form of large brown signs with white letters, has also been installed on many trails. Among these are trails at The Boulders—a BNRC property used by many, which spans across parts of Dalton, Lanesborough, and the City of Pittsfield in the center of Berkshire County.

The Boulders trailhead on Gulf Road in Dalton.

“These kiosk and signage improvements, coupled with BNRC’s new Berkshire Trails app, will help everyone explore the richness of the Berkshires’ hiking trails and outdoor opportunities,” said BNRC President Jenny Hansell. At Monday’s unveiling ceremony, Representative Pignatelli spoke to the crowd of the economic importance of conservation land and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Berkshires.

 

 

Established in 1967, the 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. There are 54 BNRC conservation reserves spread across Berkshire County, free to the public, open to everyone for non-motorized recreation, featuring over 55 miles of maintained trails. BNRC conserves land, builds and maintains trail systems, and offers year-round group outings—all through the support of donors. More about all BNRC properties and trails, and BNRC’s free Berkshire Trails app, can be found online at bnrc.org.

###

For more information contact Mackenzie Greer at 413-496-0596 or mgreer@bnrc.org.

Berkshire Natural Resources Council | 20 Bank Row, Pittsfield, MA 01201

 

Constitution Hill, Lanesborough

In January 1788 farmer Jonathan Smith traveled to Boston as Lanesborough’s delegate to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention The body was charged with deciding whether the Bay State would ratify the federal Constitution written in Philadelphia the previous year. Smith had served as a selectman, moderator, assessor, and representative to the General Court, but when he stood to address the constitutional convention, he introduced himself modestly:

“I am a plain man,” he said, “and get my living from the plow.”

He then delivered the speech that arguably helped decide the fate of our nation.

At the time, the common man regarded the proposed Constitution with some suspicion. It had been drafted by lawyers, and was approved by men of wealth and property – the same class of men who seemed bent on taking debt-ridden farmers to court and throwing them into debtors’ prison. Shays’ Rebellion (1786-87) in South Berkshire was the fruit of this class warfare and now before the doubting convention in Boston lay a federal Constitution that some thought would memorialize the imbalance. Four states had ratified the Constitution, but the critical states of New York and Virginia were waiting to see what Massachusetts would do.

“I have lived in a part of the country where I have known the worth of good government by the want of it,” Smith told the convention. “There was a black cloud that rose in the east last winter, and spread over the west … It brought on a state of anarchy, and that leads to tyranny … Now when I saw this Constitution, I found that it was a cure for these disorders.”

Swayed by Smith’s words, the Massachusetts convention ratified the Constitution by a vote of 187-168. Other states quickly followed suit, and the Constitution took effect in March 1789.

Before departing for Boston, Smith had arranged for a bonfire to be lit atop Bald Headed Hill on the day Massachusetts ratified the Constitution. In a time when there was hardly a woodlot to obstruct one’s view, Bald Headed Hill, with its “crown shaven like a monk’s with the exception of a solitary stately tree resting on its extreme summit,” was a landmark for miles around. The bonfire spread the word, and the town renamed the hill that year to honor the Constitution and Smith’s role in its passage.

In 1903, the historic “solitary, stately” oak tree at the summit suffered a lightning strike. It survived until 1920, when vandals built a fire at its base. The town replaced it with a red oak sapling, which stands today in the forest at the top of the hill.

The forests of Constitution Hill have grown up around the old oaks and the landscape today is far different from the one which Smith and Billings knew. The return of the forests has ushered in the recovery of many of the characteristic wildlife we identify with the Berkshires including black bear and moose. However, as more farms give way to houses declining early successional habitat threatens many wildlife species dependent on open fields, shrublands or the dense thickets of young forests for nesting, breeding, and feeding sites have declined in number. Without the protective cover of dense grass and thickets, birds such as the Eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis), olive sided flycatcher (Contopus cooperi) and American woodcock (Scolopax minor), are unable to nest safely hidden from predators. Other animals, like the New England cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus transitionalis) as well as various insects and other invertebrates depend on tender nutrient rich plant material found growing these spaces. Further up the food chain a suite of predatory species including snakes, foxes, owls, and others rely on these open areas for their abundant prey.

In 2006 BNRC, with the help of the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Landowner Incentive Program, began work to reclaim parts of the abandoned orchards and fields that were part of Constitution Hill in order to maintain the pieces of the puzzle that various wildlife need to survive. In conjunction with this effort we will be managing the fields that can produce agricultural products while providing the same valuable early-succesional habitat. The forested areas will be managed for sustainable timber management that goes beyond sustained yield to simulate natural disturbances, retaining large legacy trees and standing snags for wildlife that depend on characteristics of “old-growth” forested habitat. With the declining available land base and increased population pressures our communities must find creative and sustainable ways of supporting our needs with the land base and providing for the critters we share this place with. As visitors explore this property they can consider the past landscape, the present and what our landscape will look like in the future.

Constitution Hill was gifted to the Berkshire Natural Resources Council in 1998 by N. Robert Thieriot to manage for multiple uses.

“As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of demand.”
~ Josh Billings (1818-1885)

Josh Billings, the local humorist whose fame is kept alive by the annual Josh Billings RunAground Triathlon, lived on this property. Walkers today will enjoy the 20-30 minute climb from the trailhead to the spine of the hill and the summit. The original Constitution Oak probably stood beside the large white quartz rock at the top. After descending from the ridgeline, return on the blue-blazed trail, noting the slag glass used to firm the road. Round trip should take 60-90 minutes depending on your pace.

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