A New Partnership in Plainville

The Attleboro Land Trust has partnered with Wildlands Trust, a regional land trust based in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to ensure the continued preservation of land that has been under the stewardship of Crystal Spring, a spiritually-oriented ecology center in Plainville, since 1991.  Until recently, Crystal Spring was a vital center for learning and practicing ecological pursuits such as organic gardening.  Sadly, the center is now closed and a 6-acre portion of the land containing residential buildings and meeting spaces has been sold.

While Crystal Spring has closed its doors, the vision of the Dominican Sisters who founded the center was that most of the land would remain in its natural state as forested upland, and they made sure that the necessary protections would be in place before they left.  In 2008 Wildlands Trust agreed to play a role in this plan by holding a legally-enforceable conservation restriction on the vacant portion of the property.  Last year, Wildlands Trust transferred the responsibility for that conservation restriction, which protects 36 acres, to the Attleboro Land Trust.  Soon, the Dominican Sisters will convey ownership of the 36 acres to Wildlands Trust.

Once that final step is completed, Wildlands Trust will assume an expanded role as as owner and manager of the property and its hiking trails, which will be open to the public.  The ALT will carry the ongoing responsibility for monitoring the condition of the property on an annual basis, and making sure that the terms of the conservation restriction are observed.

The completion of this agreement with Wildlands Trust brings the total area of conservation land protected by the Attleboro Land Trust up to 728 acres.

Eagle Project Breaks New Ground

The Handy Street Conservation Area is an 80-acre parcel of land purchased by the City of Attleboro in 2014 with the involvement of the Attleboro Land Trust and Mass Audubon, and a substantial grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  There are trails crisscrossing the area, making it easy to get lost on the property.  The Attleboro Land Trust has designated a main trail route that utilizes some of the existing paths to form a loop, beginning and ending at the main entrance on Handy Street.

Scout Jason Zenofsky (right) with crew installing signposts at the Handy Street Conservation Area.    Image credit: C. Adler

Scout Jason Zenofsky of Troop 61 in Norton has completed an Eagle project that involved the installation of directional signposts at 33 trail junctions along the route.  Digging holes to a depth of two feet for each of these posts was challenging, to say the least.  Sometimes the problem was large rocks.  At other times the Scouts hit hardpan, which is soil that has hardened like concrete and has to be chipped away with a heavy iron bar in the shape of a chisel.  Thankfully, Jason and his crew persevered, and the signposts were all installed.

Scout Jason Zenofsky (next to signpost) with his crew after installation of 33 signposts at the Handy Street Conservation Area.    Image credit: C. Adler

In the spring, the ALT will put the finishing touches on the trail, which will be named in memory of Larry St. Pierre, who served as ALT president from 1991 to 1994 and 1997 to 2001.  A temporary map of the trail is available here.

Volunteers Rake While the Sun Shines at Larson Woodland

It is impossible for the edge of Larson Woodland on Riverbank Road to absorb the huge amount of leaves that fall each year.  It takes a crew of volunteers to rake and remove the leaves in order to keep the edge of the woodland walkable.  Fortunately, a great group of volunteers answered the call on Friday, December 11, and the job was done.  The leaves were used to help control erosion on a slope facing the Ten Mile River.

Thanks to everyone who helped in this annual effort.

Announcing an opportunity to serve with Americorps in Attleboro

TerraCorps, an AmeriCorps-affiliated environmental nonprofit, has selected the Attleboro Land Trust as a partner for the 2020-21 TerraCorps program year. This partnership will allow the Attleboro Land Trust to host one “Land Stewardship/Community Engagement Coordinator” in a full-time 8-month service position from December 2020 to July 2021.

TerraCorps members serve communities by developing local partnerships, leading activities, and engaging with volunteers. Members have the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience and receive professional development training and mentorship. As part of AmeriCorps, members also receive a living allowance, and are eligible for healthcare coverage, childcare coverage, loan forbearance, and an education award.

The Attleboro Land Trust’s member will focus on (1) activities to enhance and protect the 492 acres of conservation land under its care and (2) engagement with the public to increase awareness of and involvement with the land trust’s mission across all sectors of the community.

To apply for this position, visit terracorps.org.  For questions about serving with TerraCorps, contact Lianna Lee ([email protected]). For more about the TerraCorps position in Attleboro, contact Charlie Adler ([email protected]).

Cleaning up after a storm

Severe winds have taken their toll on land trust properties in recent years, and we are surveying our lands now for any damage that might have been caused by Tropical Storm Isaias. Thanks to site steward Alan Henry, we already have one report of a downed tree blocking the Charlie Wyman Loop Trail on the Richardson Nature Preserve.  Volunteers will be clearing the trail in the next few days.

If you would like to help keep our conservation lands well managed, there are plenty of opportunities for volunteersContact us to find out more.

Thanks to our volunteers

On Tuesday, May 26, a work party of nine volunteers helped with the maintenance of Nickerson Walking Woods Preserve.  The work was peformed with coronavirus precautions and the size of the group was limited to a maximum of ten people.


Most of the work focused on the meadow, which had become overgrown with invasive buckthorn saplings.

 


The invasive plants were removed by the roots to prevent them from growing back.

 


One of our volunteers helped to extend the life of a boardwalk by removing leaves and dirt that had collected between the slats.

If you would like to help with future work parties, contact us.

Walking the boundaries at the Nickerson Walking Woods Preserve

On Saturday, March 7, 2020, a group of volunteers walked the boundaries of the Nickerson Walking Woods Preserve.  The purpose of the walk was to inspect the condition of the preserve, check for any encroachment of the boundaries, and find existing boundary markers.  From the parking area on Richardson Avenue, we headed for the far corners of the property.

   
A snowfall the previous night had added a sparkle to the landscape.

 

After crossing the power line easement, we found a steel pipe marking the SE corner of Nickerson Walking Woods Preserve.  This point is on the town line between Attleboro and Norton.

 

We placed a witness post near the pipe to make it easier to find next time.

 

The pipe is at the end of this stone wall.

 

We added a sign with our visitor regulations.

 

We walked the entire length of the power line easement from south to north.

 

We put up another regulation sign at the edge of the power line along our northern boundary.

 

Thanks to all who attended the walk!

Boundary Walks on March 14 and 21 are cancelled

A series of boundary walks was planned for the first three Saturdays in March, weather permitting.  The purpose of boundary walks is to maintain signs and markers along the boundaries and to check for encroachment.

The first boundary walk was held at the Nickerson Walking Woods Preserve, 221 Richardson Avenue, on Saturday, March 7.

Many help launch an invasive plant removal project at Larson Woodland

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.

A good turnout of volunteers helped to remove invasive plant species at Larson Woodland on November 23, 2019.    Image credit: C. Adler

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.

Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is an invasive vine that originated in China.    Image credit: C. Adler

Some large non-native honeysuckle bushes along Riverbank Road were also removed.

Scouts from Troop 15 removing an invasive honeysuckle bush at Larson Woodland.    Image credit: C. Adler

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.