After 24 hours of rain, sleet, and snow, the Richardson Nature Preserve glistened on the morning of December 18, 2019. An American holly tree is in the foreground. The red berries, found only on female trees, provide food for many birds.
Invasive species are organisms that are not native to an area, that tend to spread and displace native species, and that have harmful consequences for the environment. Invasive species include animals, plants, and even fungi. In the twentieth century, diseases caused by non-native fungi–accidentally introduced in North America–devastated elm and chestnut trees. Invasive gypsy moths have damaged many other local tree species.
Invasive trees and shrubs are common in our area and threaten to crowd out native plants–wreaking havoc with native ecosystems. The Attleboro Land Trust has launched an invasive removal project focusing on Larson Woodland. At four acres, this is one of our smaller nature preserves. This will serve as a demonstration project, and we hope to apply lessons learned to our other preserves.
A survey of the preserve was conducted by Gary Krofta and Phil Boucher, resulting in a map identifying the invasive species to be targeted and their locations. Longtime watershed protection advocate Don Doucette has been a key advisor. The project was kicked off on Saturday, November 23. Among the volunteers who pitched in was a contingent of Scouts from Attleboro Troop 15.
Oriental bittersweet was removed from the banks of the Ten Mile River near the spillway. The bright red berries (once prized for their decorative value during the winter holidays) were bagged and will be burned to prevent propagation of new plants.
Some large non-native honeysuckle bushes along Riverbank Road were also removed.
Project work parties will continue in the spring. Some of the other species to be targeted are buckthorn, purple loosestrife, and Norway maple. We welcome more volunteers to help with the work.
Trail advocate Don Burn brought his vision to a full house at the Attleboro Land Trust’s annual meeting on October 22. Burn was the driving force behind a network of trails in Westborough, Massachusetts, known as the “Charm Bracelet.” His words helped to energize a similar effort underway locally dubbed “Hike Attleboro.” The Attleboro Land Trust, Mass Audubon, and the City of Attleboro each own and manage conservation lands with walking trails in the city. Hike Attleboro will use a common logo and roadside signs to direct residents to these trails.
The Westborough Charm Bracelet was driven by Burn’s vision to “Connect with trails every public open space parcel and recreation area in Westborough to every neighborhood and to the adjoining towns.” This neatly coincides with a similar vision in Attleboro’s 2011 Comprehensive Plan of walkable neighborhoods with public parks within a 10-minute walk.
Burn touted the many benefits of walking trails, including research that indicates a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced levels of stress and anxiety. He emphasized the importance of partnerships in attempting a project of the scale of the Charm Bracelet, which included participation by civic organizations, youth groups, businesses, landowners, developers, and many municipal boards and departments.
Hike Attleboro is now in the design stage. Volunteers with the following skills are needed: WordPress site development, computer graphics, GIS mapping, real estate, and civil engineering. Later stages will involve more on-site work involving evaluation of natural features and trail design. Contact us if you would like to get involved.
by Sharon Tenglin
This year, Attleboro residents read In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick for Attleboro’s 1ABC (One Adventure, One Book, One Community), part of the national Big Read program.
As a 1ABC event, ALT hosted a Whaling Ports of Call Fairy House Exhibit at the Deborah and Roger Richardson Nature Preserve on Wilmarth Street where people could create their own fairy houses inspired by the places sailors visited in the book In the Heart of the Sea.
On Saturday, October 5, there were 45 creative and unique fairy houses, hand-made by local residents of all ages, exhibited at the Preserve. In keeping with the nautical theme, many houses were decorated with shells or driftwood or were made to be ocean-side homes or lighthouses. One even had shell furniture inside.
Approximately 75 adults and children attended this fun event. They enjoyed checking out the houses, meeting people, and going for walks. The kids especially liked making fairy gardens that they could take home, having refreshments, and running around in the sunshine.
Also at this event, the Attleboro Public Library gave away Big Read books, whale activities and information about the library. (For information, visit http://attleboros1abc.org/.)
A site steward is a volunteer who “adopts” one of the Attleboro Land Trust nature preserves, individually or with a group, such as a group of neighbors, church group, youth group, or fraternal organization.
Duties of a site steward:
- Walk the property on a regular basis
- Pick up litter
- Report vandalism and violations of ALT regulations
- Help with routine trail maintenance
- Assist with special projects
Guided Walk: Beholding the Beauty of Trees
Location: Deborah and Roger Richardson Nature Preserve, 577B Wilmarth Street, Attleboro
Time: 9:00 – 10:30 am, Saturday, September 14 (Rain date: 1:00 pm, Sunday, September 15)
We sometimes take trees for granted, but they are part of the intricate web of life upon which we depend for our survival. Trees, in their infinite diversity and beauty also have the power to inspire. Join horticulturalist Phil Boucher on a walk through the Richardson Preserve, as he points out tree species that are native to the area, some invasive alien species, and some unique non-invasive species planted years ago by former resident Deborah Richardson.
On August 10 Ben Cote of Friends of the Ten Mile led a walk along a portion of the Ten Mile River in Attleboro, beginning at Larson Woodland. Ben explained the pivotal role the river played in the Industrial Revolution two centuries ago, when factories were built alongside the river and dams were created with water wheels providing a source of mechanical power. In the 20th century, the river also became a convenient place to dump industrial waste, until environmental awareness eventually took hold. Today it is illegal to dump waste into the river, but stormwater running off lawns carries fertilizers into the river, leading to algae blooms which rob fish of oxygen.
As the group moved up the watershed towards the Water Street bridge, it was joined by longtime watershed advocate Don Doucette, who shared some of his knowledge of the river and its history.
Local naturalist Gary Krofta will lead a guided walk at the Anthony Lawrence Wildlife Preserve on Saturday, August 24. The preserve features a pristine freshwater marsh, on the Seven Mile River, that provides habitat for a variety of wildlife. Deer and wild turkeys frequently visit the preserve and red-winged blackbirds roost in the few trees dotting the marsh. Many colorful wildflowers and a variety of pollinating insects can be observed at this time of year. Krofta will also point out some invasive species, such as the purple loosestrife that could replace native cattails if left unchecked. The walk will begin at 9:00 am and last about an hour and a half.
The Anthony Lawrence Wildlife Preserve is located at the end of Hope Avenue off Newport Avenue. Directions: Coming from downtown Attleboro on Route 123 west, you will pass the South Attleboro American Legion on your right. Take the next left onto Hope Avenue. Park on the right side and walk to the end of the street. Please try to avoid blocking any of the neighbors’ mailboxes.
This walk has been added to the Attleboro Land Trust’s summer event schedule in addition to the series of three guided walks previously announced.
Volunteers are needed on Saturday, August 17, from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon to help clear brush along trails at the Anthony Lawrence Wildlife Preserve, located at the end of Hope Avenue off Newport Avenue. This gem of a preserve includes a pristine marsh along the Seven Mile River. Bring loppers and other brush cutting tools if you have them. Work gloves are recommended, along with long sleeve shirts, long pants, and socks for protection from poison ivy and insects. If you can bring a lawn mower or weed wacker, please let us know. Feel free to attend for just an hour or two as your schedule allows.
Proceeding on Route 123 west you will pass the South Attleboro American Legion on your right. Hope Avenue is the next left. Park on the right side of the street as you approach the end of Hope Avenue. Please try to avoid blocking any of the neighbors’ mailboxes. Rain date: Saturday, August 24.
The photos in this post were all taken on July 8, 2019. Some photos were taken along the trails, others, such as the photo of the deer, were taken in the marsh. The marsh is a vast expanse of marsh grass and cattails. The Seven Mile River and Tannery Brook enter the marsh separately, then join together. It is possible to walk in the marsh when the water level is low, as it was on this day. However, one must be sure-footed as the terrain is very lumpy and your foot may suddenly sink in a wet spot, especially as you near the river.