In this issue:
BNRC’s Berkshire Trails App is Here • Resources Page: bnrc.org/learn • New Stewardship Staff • Goldenrod Research Opportunity • The Spotted Lanternfly in MA • Winter Birding, Sunset Hike, Spring Happenings & More • Forgotten Farms Screening • Wigwam Hikes • New Pocket Guide to Fern ID
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and Berkshire Natural Resources Council are seeking Proposals to document the presence and extent of Large-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago macrophylla), a plant species listed as Special Concern in Massachusetts, in three areas in northwestern Massachusetts. This Request for Proposals is intended to improve Natural Heritage’s understanding of the species.
Solidago macrophylla is an iconic rare plant species of the higher elevations in the Northeast. In Massachusetts, this species is known only from northeastern Berkshire County and northwestern Franklin County at high elevations (above 2000 ft.) It is typically observed in cool, moist conditions, though it tolerates both full sun and full shade. In an effort to protect the biodiversity of the Commonwealth, Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) is seeking proposals to survey populations of S. macrophylla in three locations:
- Spruce Mountain in Monroe State Forest (larger red polygon);
- The western portion of the recent addition to the BNRC Hoosac Range Reserve (smaller red polygon);
- Update known occurrences of macrophylla in the remainder of the BNRC Hoosac Range Reserve ridgeline from Route 2 south to Savoy Mountain State Forest (yellow polygons);
- Submit a summary report of the work to NHESP including rare species observations in VPRS for all rare species observed.
NHESP, through a partnership with BNRC, has allocated up to $5,000 for completing these surveys.
- Update the information on the locations of population of Solidago macrophylla in Massachusetts. The populations in these locations were last observed in 2011, or, if more recently observed, a thorough survey of the population was not conducted. The two areas marked in red on Figure 1 are of particular interest to NHESP, as surveys in those areas have been minimal.
- Complete surveys in 2019.
- Description of the communities which currently support Solidago macrophylla.
- Documentation of and reports of all MESA-listed and SWAP-listed species encountered during this study.
Figure 1. Areas of Interest for Solidago macrophylla Surveys in Monroe, Florida and North Adams
Red striped areas indicated highest priority; Yellow striped area is second priority
The awarded researcher will develop a survey protocol to document the population of Solidago macrophylla in locations marked in red (primary) and yellow (secondary) on Figure 1. The project shall be completed during the summer of 2019 and conclude, as indicated by the submission of the Final Report, by December 16, 2019. Specifically:
- Shapefiles will be provided to the successful applicant to define survey areas. Surveys should be completed when the species is most visible, when it is blooming. However, the surveyor should be familiar with the species in vegetative form as not all individuals or populations may bloom.
- Permission from Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to conduct research in Monroe State Forest will be needed prior to the start of botanical survey in that location. (NHESP staff will assist with this step once the monitoring protocol is sufficiently designed to be submitted to DCR; https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-a-research-permit).
- Map the full extents of the populations and determine approximate population size for any macrophylla found within the two red polygons. Although there is a large potential area for the species at Monroe State Forest, it is unlikely that it grows throughout the entire area.
- Map and describe macrophylla at different elevations and aspect within the yellow area; NHESP does not expect all plants/populations within this area to be mapped, but would like additional information on the extents of the population within this area.
- Results of all surveys, detailing sites visited, survey effort, extent and location of species observations shall be reported to NHESP using the Vernal Pool and Rare Species Reporting System (VPRS – https://www.mass.gov/service-details/vernal-pool-rare-species-vprs-information-system), and in a summary report by December 31, 2019
- Observations, or “not-observed” reports, of macrophylla populations in the three areas will be submitted via the VPRS reporting system. Information on number of plants observed (estimates are fine for large populations, then please also include areal cover estimates), supporting plant communities, and threats to the observed populations.
- All MESA-listed and SWAP-listed species encountered during these studies, in addition to populations of macrophylla, need to be documented and reported to the Natural Heritage VPRS reporting system.
Instructions for Submission of Responses:
Please provide the following information in your proposal:
- Applicant’s name, address, phone, and e-mail address
- Project summary: 2 to 3 sentences
- Qualifications of personnel, including any familiarity with the target species.
- Project scope and methods
- Itemized project budget.
Bid Due Date: Bids must be received by MassWildlife by 2:00 PM on Wednesday, May 29, 2019.
Instruction for Submission of Responses:
Submit proposals via the Commonwealth’s Online Procurement System – CommBuys at https://www.commbuys.com/bso/. For application questions, please contact Karen M. Dolan, Finance & Projects Administrator, NHESP at 508-389-6349 or at email@example.com .
For more specific project information contact Karro Frost, Conservation Planning Botanist, NHESP, at
508-389-6390 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MANDATORY BID SHEET
RFR# DFW-2019-048: Large-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago macrophylla) Surveys
|Treatment||Total Amount ($)|
|TOTAL BID (Subtotal of items 1-4 from above)||
Bob Watroba joined BNRC’s volunteer team about a year ago after being a long-time supporter. His first day in the field was helping to install bog bridging at Bob’s Way and we couldn’t have done it without him; both his work ethic and personality are superb.
When we asked about his favorite trail, Bob responded that his “…first choice would have to be the Basin Pond Trail with Bob’s Way as a close second. One of the main reasons is the close proximity to where I live in Becket, and the fact that the trail is a loop making it an easy roughly three mile hike. I was one of the trail stewards in 2018, getting to know it quite well and seeing it in all of the four seasons. It has numerous creeks and streams running throughout the property making it a picturesque place to explore, especially in the spring months with the snow melting, turning the small creeks and streams into raging brooks. The trail also has some great vistas of Basin Pond in the late fall and winter months. If you’re lucky, you can hear the call of hawks in the distance pursuing their prey along the shoreline. The short walk down on the Dam Spur trail brings you up close to the beaver dam and pond, that is always changing with the seasons.”
BNRC trail stewards are truly the backbone of keeping the 55+ miles of trails open to the public. They are the eyes and ears on the ground and as read in Bob’s in-depth description of Basin Pond, become connected to their trail.
“Being a long-time supporter of BNRC, one of the main reasons I volunteer is that it allows me to give back to the community of people who love and enjoy the natural beauty of the Berkshires. We sometimes have a tendency to take our natural environment for granted. The natural beauty that surrounds us here in the Berkshires needs to be protected and cared for. I’ve been an outdoors person and hiker for many years and have lived my entire life in the Berkshires. Being a nature photographer certainly gives me great pleasure exploring the numerous trails throughout western Massachusetts. Below are a few of my images of creatures that you may encounter along one of your hikes. I can’t think of a better way to give back than by volunteering and giving financial support to an organization that I believe in that does so much to protect our lands and forests.”
“This Edwin Way Teale quote comes to mind “Our minds, as well as our bodies, have need of the out-of-doors. Our spirits, too, need simple things, elemental things, the sun and the wind and the rain, moonlight and starlight, sunrise and mist and mossy forest trails, the perfumes of dawn and the smell of fresh -turned earth and the ancient music of wind among the trees.””
Bob, BNRC is so thankful to have you as both a supporter and volunteer. Cheers to you for keeping trails clear in 2019!
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.
Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) is a not-for-profit land trust working throughout Berkshire County, in western Massachusetts. BNRC manages 10,500 acres of fee-owned land and about 12,000 acres of conservation restrictions. The land trust conserves special places around the Berkshires and open them up for all to enjoy. BNRC recently launched The High Road, a vision for connecting trails to towns and conservation lands to communities throughout our region.
Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) is seeking to fill an opening in its Stewardship Department for a Trails Coordinator.
The position is appropriate for someone with 3-5 years of relevant professional post-college experience, with a pay range of approximately $40-45,000, depending on experience. For someone with additional previous experience including supervising a full-time staff, a higher salary and additional responsibilities is possible. The position is full-time, year round, with competitive benefits.
This position is intended to support BNRC’s mission to ensure “public benefit and enjoyment” of natural lands. The Trails Coordinator is expected to execute some of these responsibilities individually, but in many cases will serve as a project manager, delegating tasks and managing contractors, interns, volunteers and professional work crews. The Trails Coordinator will be expected to exercise skills of delegation, prioritization and problem-solving, and to relate in a warm and welcoming way to the public.
Please submit a resume and cover letter detailing how your experience is relevant to this position:
Berkshire Natural Resources Council
c/o Front Desk
20 Bank Row
Pittsfield, MA 01201
or via email to email@example.com.
Review of applications will begin February 5 and will continue until position is filled.
Trails Coordinator Job Description
Creating and maintaining trails and other access improvements on BNRC’s properties.
- Ongoing maintenance of trails, trailheads, signage, vistas, and other related public access improvements and features
- Scout, plan and permit new/current trail projects
- Review conservation projects prior to acquisition for public access potential, public access challenges, and implications for future stewardship needs
- Procure and review plant and animal resource reports as needed for trail project planning
- Construct new trail projects, responding to the needs of a wide variety of abilities and users
- Supervise and coordinate construction and trail contractors
- Hire, train, and supervise seasonal trail crew staff on trail projects and maintenance
- Support volunteer coordinator to plan/lead volunteer projects
- Assist other stewardship staff on a variety of tasks to care for and maintain BNRC’s conservation properties
- Purchase (via BNRC procurement policy) and maintain trail building equipment
- Ensure trail projects stay within annual budget; document expenditures according to BNRC financial policy
- Support outreach coordinator by leading occasional hikes
- Interact and communicate about BNRC, trail information and nature/ecology with the public, both in informal encounters and, as appropriate, planned events such as hikes and presentations
- Other tasks as assigned by supervisor or BNRC president
The Trails Coordinator will have the following:
- Expertise in sustainable trail design and construction, including:
- New trail layout and design
- Construction of single-track trail systems for hikers and multiple uses.
- Construction of stone and timber structures
- Experience training and providing oversight to volunteers and/or seasonal staff
- Experience selecting and working with contractors
- Demonstrated ability to plan and carry out complex projects, including delegating, prioritizing and problem-solving
- Proficiency in operation of chainsaws, brush cutters, and small engine machines
- Proficiency in off-trail navigation including use of GPS and map/compass
- Willingness to work outside/year-round, in all weather conditions
- Ability to walk long distances over rough terrain carrying 40lbs
- Proficiency in standard office software
Preferred additional skills:
- Knowledge of Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and permitting process
- Knowledge and identification of invasive species
- Wilderness First Aid certification (or willingness to obtain)
- Familiarity with Geographic Information Systems
- Proficient in operation and maintenance of tractor
- Environmental education and outreach
The Trails Coordinator will:
- Exercise care and control of BNRC’s property access improvements, including infrastructure such access roads, trails, trailheads, related improvements and infrastructure such as gates, kiosks, culverts, boardwalks etc., as measured by the maintenance, repair or restoration of damages;
- Exercise sound fiscal management, as measured by completion of projects on budget and on schedule;
- With colleagues, advance the progress of the High Road, as measured by creating new trails and trail linkages, and planning strategically for expansion of the network and BNRC’s capacity to deliver; and
- Create and maintain an inviting and welcoming atmosphere for visitors at selected BNRC reserves, as measured by creation of well-designed trails and trailheads and the installation and maintenance of clear informational and navigational signage.
Key Personal Interactions:
- Staff colleagues: this position will seek and provide consultation with his or her colleagues to ensure that conservation, stewardship and outreach initiatives are integrated across the organization.
- Volunteers: The coordinator will welcome volunteer support. He or she will coach, train volunteers to do effective work. He or she will make volunteers feel valued and impactful.
- Contractors: The coordinator will recognize that some tasks are best assigned to professional contractors and consultants in order to achieve best results most effectively. He or she will make task objectives clear, will establish clear expectations for deliverable services, and will establish cooperative working relations with contractors and consultants.
- Partners: The coordinator will cultivate constructive and empathetic relationships with land and trail partners, including private landowners who have given trail easements, and colleagues at state conservation agencies and NGOs.
Borrow A Hiking Backpack program provides access to essential hiking supplies to have a safe, fun, and educational outdoor experience as well as workshops on hiking, tracking, local flora and fauna, and land stewardship.
Community members, with a library card in good standing, can check out hiking backpacks from the Berkshire Athenaeum, fully equipped with field guides, BNRC trail guides, a basic first-aid kit, a compass, binoculars, a magnifying glass, bug spray, two ponchos, and an observational journal.
The backpacks are available for a 1-week checkout and reservations are required.
Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC), in partnership with the Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s Public Library, initiated this program in 2018.
Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC), a private, non-profit land trust based in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is hiring two Trail Crew positions for the 2019 season.
BNRC has over 55 miles of trail, with more to be built in 2019. Trail Crew members will work with the Trails Coordinator to construct and maintain new and existing trails. The crew may work alongside contracted youth and professional trail crews. The Trail Crew will also assist with a variety of other stewardship tasks as needed. Applicants must have a high level of self-motivation, as the crew will often be unsupervised. The 40-hour/week position provides a $13 hourly wage and free housing in a rustic cabin on Onota Lake in Pittsfield. The season runs from May 28th to August 30th with flexibility on both ends.
- Trail maintenance and construction
- Tool/equipment maintenance
- Work/communication with youth and professional trail crews
- Public outreach (e.g., leading hikes, communicating with hikers, etc.)
- Experience with hand tools
- Trail crew experience preferred (tread work, rock/timber structure, etc.)
- Ability to work unsupervised
- Comfort with being alone in the woods
- Ability to carry a 50-pound pack for 10 miles over rough terrain
- Willingness to work outside in all weather conditions
- Personal transportation
Opportunities and Experience:
- Free housing on Lake Onota in Pittsfield (org/contact-us-2/employment/ for photos of housing)
- Trail work experience and training
- Work alongside professional trail crews
- Learn about land conservation in the Berkshires
Interviews will be set up on a rolling basis starting Monday, February 4th until the positions are filled. Please submit a cover letter, resume and three references to Nicole Pyser, firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information can be found at www.bnrc.org.
Please note: BNRC is also hiring two Seasonal Stewardship positions. Visit www.bnrc.org/contact-us-2/employment/ to view the position description. If interested, you can apply for both the Stewardship Crew and Trail Crew with one application, just make a note when sending it in.
The seasonal positions and housing are made possible by John Rice and family.