O’Donnell Preserve to open on July 24

On Saturday, July 24, the public is invited to a new nature preserve to be opened by the Attleboro Land Trust. The 14-acre Joseph and Margaret O’Donnell Nature Preserve is located on Bishop Street. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at 10:00 am to thank Dr. Robert B. O’Donnell, who donated the land in memory of his parents. Attendees should park and gather in the Finberg Field parking lot on Bishop Street next to the preserve.

After the formal ceremony, Evan Foster will lead a guided walk of a new 0.7 mile trail which leads through red maple and pine forests and past wetlands to a stand of beech and birch trees. The opening of the O’Donnell Preserve and trail is one of several projects completed by Foster during a seven-month term of service with the land trust under the TerraCorps program, which is affiliated with AmeriCorps. The project included photographic and GPS documentation of the baseline condition of the property, a property management plan, and a trail map generated using a digital geographic mapping system that Foster built for the land trust.

Rain date for the event is Sunday, July 25, at 1:00 pm. Event updates will be posted on this website.

Announcing Hike Attleboro Day

The City of Attleboro, Attleboro Land Trust and Mass Audubon invite you to celebrate the City’s green spaces, public trails and special places on Saturday, July 17th at the first annual Hike Attleboro Day celebration. This fun and free community event is open to all, and encourages residents of all ages and abilities to get outdoors to explore and enjoy Attleboro’s miles of available trails. The Deborah and Roger Richardson Preserve, located at 577B Wilmarth Street, will serve as the event’s home base from 9am to 3pm and will offer a variety of Hike Attleboro community, wellness and conservation partner displays and activities for all to enjoy.

Event details can be found online at www.hikeattleboro.org and include a fun Selfie Scavenger Hunt, with points of interest that encourage participants to walk a variety of trails and post their selfies on social media using the #hikeattleboroday hashtag. Rain date for the event is Sunday, July 18th.

Selfie Scavenger Hunt Locations Revealed!

Visit: Hike Attleboro Day Selfie Scavenger Hunt – HIKE ATTLEBORO

Spring is Here! – Blog Post #4

View of the Anthony Lawrence Wildlife Preserve.

My walk began with a deep inhale while starting down the Anthony Lawrence Wildlife Preserve trail. The air was crisp and refreshing as the sun streamed through the trees hitting the ground to create a light show. The transition from winter to spring was unfolding before my eyes. The daily temperatures were rising, the buds on the trees were unfolding, and the birds were coming back to sing their songs. The excitement was in the air as the trees, birds and animals were beginning to stir. Life had hit pause for the harsh winter, but now everything seemed to dance and smile once again. The silence that we all often experience during winter was muted by the sounds of spring. The birds complimented one another without much effort and created a beautiful song. One of the great wonders of springtime is when the frogs and salamanders make their move towards the vernal pools to lay their eggs. During this time, it is hard to miss their loud noises. If you ever walk by a vernal pool during this time, then you will most likely hear the frogs signaling the start of spring.

Buds developing as spring comes.

Now, it isn’t just the frogs, trees and birds that begin to stir with excitement, but humans are also beginning the spring dance. When I feel the warmer temperatures and sun hitting my face, a sense of inspiration overcomes me. My productivity, happiness, and motivation increase greatly. The Land Trust work relies heavily on this inspiration to create the positive impact on our communities. How interesting that this inspiration comes from the very thing that we are trying to protect: nature. My hope for all of you is that you feel inspired to get involved. The change that we need to ensure a healthy future starts and ends with your motivation to get involved. My challenge for you is to get involved with your community with something that you are passionate about. The energy and excitement that you bring to the table could be the spark that ignites real change. Once you get involved, bring someone along with you to show them the work that you have been doing. Spring is a time for action. The sun is out, the warm temperatures are here and the leaves are showing their colors. Join the excitement and get out there!

Skunk cabbage growing where it grows best!

A most agreeable feathered favourite

Visitors to the Deborah and Roger Richardson Nature Preserve will notice something new:  six birdhouses designed specifically for Eastern Bluebirds.  This beautiful bird migrates south for the winter and returns in the spring.  The birdhouses were made by Scout Eric Carey in 2014 as part of an Eagle project and placed in the meadow at the Nickerson Walking Woods Preserve.  However, not many bluebirds took residence in them.

This year we decided to move the birdhouses to the Upper and Lower Hayfields at the Richardson Preserve, where bluebirds are more common.  (Thanks to the volunteers who made this happen!).


Male Eastern Bluebird – Photo by Lee R. DeHaan

John J. Audubon wrote admiringly of the bluebird as follows:  “It adds to the delight imparted by spring, and enlivens the dull days of winter. Full of innocent vivacity, warbling its ever pleasing notes, and familiar as any bird can be in its natural freedom, it is one of the most agreeable of our feathered favourites.”

Earth Week Activities for Families

Earth Day is normally celebrated on April 22nd.  The Attleboro Land Trust will be stretching its observance into an “Earth Week” with free activities for families from April 19th to 23rd.  The activities will be geared to children aged 6 to 13, but all ages are welcome. All children must be accompanied by an adult for the entire duration of the event.

Three time slots will be available on each day of Earth Week. The time slots are 11am-12:15pm, 12:30pm-1:45pm and 2pm-3:15pm. Click on one of the links below to sign up for an activity at your chosen time.

Monday, April 19: “Slow Down and Look Around #1” Discover the natural features that exist right in your backyard with this nature scavenger hunt. (Nickerson Walking Woods Preserve) SIGN_UP

Tuesday, April 20: “How Curious Are You?”  Learn to see nature through the eyes of a curious naturalist while gathering nature items. (Larson Woodland) SIGN_UP

Wednesday, April 21: “Letting Nature Inspire Your Art” Focus on the beauty around you and create your own artwork with materials obtained from nature along with provided materials. (Deborah and Roger Richardson Nature Preserve) SIGN_UP

Thursday, April 22: “Slow Down and Look Around #2” Discover the natural features that exist right in your backyard with this nature scavenger hunt. (Nickerson Walking Woods Preserve) SIGN_UP

Friday, April 23: “Can you Identify these Trees/Plants?” Practice and learn how to identify certain types of trees and plants found in these areas. (Deborah and Roger Richardson Nature Preserve) SIGN_UP

For more information or questions, contact Evan Foster at evanfosterALT@gmail.com.

Taking a Closer Look – Blog Post #3

I started down the path on the Colman Reservation wondering: what was I going to see today? This thought often occurs to me when I first start walking on a trail since my eyes need a destination to land on. My eyes flicked from one color to another almost instinctively while registering some of the scene but mostly brushing past it. What stuck out the most were the large oak trees softly swaying in the wind and the massive, gray rock that sees every wandering eye that passes by. These sights are not easily missed, but it takes a pair of keen eyes to look past and into the unseen background. On this day, my brain fired off the electrical signals that slowed down my eyes to look deeper. Almost instantly, an entire new world came into focus.

Small details that filled in the gaps of the never-ending photo helped to complete the picture. What had originally appeared to be a familiar scene soon took on a completely new form. The delicate crevices in the cracks of the tree bark presented

Moss and fungi growing on the bark of a tree.

an opportunity for resourceful organisms to prosper. The lens of my camera as well as my eye zoomed in on the newly found organisms. Green, furry arms of moss reached out to the sun smiling as they gratefully accepted the energy to create their food. The arms were no longer than one centimeter but vastly abundant up and down the tree creating a wave of green. Intermingled between the moss grew squishy, green mushrooms closely packed next to one another in order to maximize the limited amount of space on the tree. The two organisms danced and expanded together as they could feel spring just around the corner.

Moss covered side of the massive rock on the Colman Reservation.

One sight that stands the test of time is the massive, gray rock that rests on the Colman Reservation. You see it every time you visit, and yet there is always something new that you can learn from it. The countless years that it has existed lends itself to an immeasurable source of knowledge that exists in every dent and crack. Even with this amount of knowledge, we must look closer. My feet carried me past the side facing the trail and exposed the backside of the rock. The gray surface was masked by a wall of tightly packed green moss. This remarkable organism was in full display flexing its power to survive where nothing else could. Utilizing only tiny droplets of water, these mosses can grow in the most barren environments. Given this superpower, the mosses captured the water that snaked its way down the side of

Dark-colored fungi sprawling out on a tree.

the rock and produced its furry, green arms that extend towards the sky. The tiny roots of the moss captured the knowledge trapped in each crack of the rock. Content with the little amount that they have, the moss grows and grows without any complaints. I continued on with my walk having learned about the power of small organisms in this immense ecosystem. My challenge for you all is to slow down and look around, you might end up seeing something that you didn’t know was there!

Remembering the Past – Blog Post #2

I walked through the Phil and Ginny Leach Wildlife Sanctuary as my eyes strained at the sun-rays bouncing off the white blanket of snow. I took the time while out there to remember my previous experiences. Many of my fondest memories have been while out in areas just like this. One of the most important parts of conservation work is understanding the interactions between plants and animals in the area that you are working in. A term that I was introduced to during my experience at Maine

Species account on a Downy Woodpecker.

Species account on Eastern White Pine trees.

Coast Semester at Chewonki in Wiscasset, Maine was being a naturalist. This term reemerged throughout the many future endeavors that I went on. As a 17-year-old, I did not fully embrace this idea or understand what it meant. I would get glimpses into the understanding of it when I was told to count the number of birds that visit a bird feeder in an hour time slot each week. Why am I doing this? Or learning the identification of the native tree species that live on the Maine Coast along with their common and scientific name. What is the point of this? Or trekking through the woods in search of vernal pools to locate and mark them for future evaluation of their health. Where are we going? Or spending one day each week going to new sites like beaches or mountaintops where we learned about how the features were formed, and what plant and animal species live in the area. We do this every week?! Or writing species accounts on various plants and animals. I have to write another one? Or spending two nights and three days alone in the woods with no one but myself. Am I sleeping out here alone? Or simply sitting in the forests and watching it exist as it has for thousands of years. Why am I just sitting here? As a 17-year-old, I was not yet able to appreciate what I was learning during all these experiences.

A moose sighting on a canoe trip in 2013 in northern Ontario.

I continued on with my life with this new idea in my head about being a naturalist. I carried it with me as I spent my summers up in northern Ontario where I canoed on some of the most remote areas that I have ever been to. Animal sightings of bald and golden eagles, moose, and herons were all too common during our trip. Wolf, bear and even wolverine sightings were less frequent but did occur. On one special day, we stumbled upon the aftermath of a wolf feast on a deer. This was a stark reminder of the territory that we were traveling through. My appreciation for the natural world was growing at a rapid pace, and the idea of being a naturalist started to come into focus. I began to realize what my mistake was with my past experiences with the natural world: I was putting myself at the center focus. My inner dialogue consisted of this: Why am I here? What I am doing? Where are we going? The questions that I should have been asking needed to be less self-centered and much more thoughtful. Questions like: Why are vernal pools so important? What animals rely on these pools? Why do animals prefer a certain habitat over another one? What animals rely on one another for survival? These questions are at the heart of being a naturalist.

A very rare wolverine sighting in northern Ontario!

Ultimately, these questions are a skill. A skill that we as humans must learn and use in order to save our planet, and that skill is called listening. I finally understand why I had simply just sat in the woods and heard the sounds of nature. I was listening to nature! If we want to be successful conservationists, then we have to be naturalists. We must listen to the ecosystems and understand what their needs are. Similar to the silliness of putting a road somewhere where there are no cars, it is just as silly to protect an area without first listening to its needs. We all have a lot of work to do in the coming years to help our planet heal, but one thing that we all can do right now is start listening to what nature has been telling us.

Downy woodpecker spotted on the Leach property.

In Memoriam: Bob Faulkner

Ted Leach, ALT President, and Bob Faulkner at Annual Meeting, November 2, 2011.    Image credit: C. Adler

We at the Attleboro Land Trust are saddened at news of the death of Bob Faulkner on February 1.  Bob was a major donor, supporter, and friend of the Attleboro Land Trust.  Although a resident of Barrington, RI, Bob was born in Attleboro and maintained close family and business ties to the City.  His affirming presence at our annual meetings in years past was always welcomed.

 

In Memoriam: Jean Vaughan

Dedication of Vaughan Memorial Forest, October 11, 2003, (l-r) Cecilia Walsh, Larry St. Pierre, State Rep. John Lepper, Jean Vaughan, ALT President Bob Thayer, Robert Schoch    Image credit: Bob Thayer

We at the Attleboro Land Trust would like to express our sympathy to the family and friends of Jean Vaughan, who passed away on January 31.  Jean and her late husband Victor were known to many, as they were both active in many community organizations.  In 1999 Jean donated 32 acres of land on Steere Street in memory of Victor. Her gift, combined with another acquisition, is now the 52-acre Vaughan Memorial Forest.  We are honored to be caretakers of this living legacy.

In Memoriam: Don Ouellette

Don Ouellette, a longtime advocate for the environment in Attleboro, passed away on January 26 after a long illness. Don served on the 2002 Open Space and Recreation Plan Committee, Ducks Unlimited, the board of the Attleboro Land Trust, and the Conservation Commission.

While Don and his wife Laura had been members and supporters of the land trust going back to at least 1997, Don was first elected to the Board of Directors in 2010. He became Chair of Land Acquisition later that year, serving in that position until 2017. He also served as Vice President from 2011 to 2016. Under Don’s leadership as acquisition chair, the land trust had a long string of successes in protecting additional land in the city. Nine properties totalling 197 acres were acquired and another 80 acres were put under a conservation restriction.

Don was perhaps proudest of the acquisition of the 63-acre Deborah and Roger Richardson Nature Preserve. This was by far the most complicated project in ALT history, requiring teams from the City, Mass Audubon, the ALT, and the Richardson family all working together to cross the finish line.

Charlie Wyman, Ted Leach, Don Ouellette, and Lauren Gordon on a 2014 site visit to what was to become the Deborah and Roger Richardson Nature Preserve.    Image credit: C. Adler

Don also left his mark on the partnership that has formed to promote Attleboro as an attractive place to live, work, play, and go hiking. Past ALT president Ted Leach, who launched the partnership, credits Don with coming up its slogan: “Hike Attleboro.” As Ted recalls, “Don suggested it during a meeting at City Hall with Mayor Kevin Dumas. It was an immediate hit with all present.”

We will remember Don, not only for his dedicated service to the land trust, but also for the personal warmth and enthusiasm he brought to his every endeavor.