News

Wanted: Weed Warriors

SVT volunteers attended a Weed Warrior training session on June 17, 2020.

SVT has launched a Weed Warrior program to tackle invasive plants at some of our reservations. SVT Weed Warriors are volunteers who work independently on SVT properties to manually remove invasive plants.

To qualify as a Weed Warrior, a volunteer must attend an SVT training session and receive certification from SVT. Once certified, Weed Warriors can go out on their own time to any of the designated locations to manage the invasive plants present. Certified Weed Warriors are allowed to supervise their family unit or a friend (social distanced of course) to assist tackling the invasive plants.

If you have an aptitude for plant identification and a willingness to work independently, this is the volunteer opportunity you've been waiting for! Learn more.

Thistle Dew Success!

Thank you to the many wonderful donors who contributed to the protection of Thistle Dew Farm in Holliston. With your support, we reached our fundraising goal of $150,000.

Special thanks to the anonymous donor who pledged $100,000 and to Mass Audubon for securing the anonymous gift. Thanks also to the Town of Holliston Open Space Committee for its contribution.

A closing is anticipated for the fall, at which time the property will be permanently protected under an Agricultural Preservation Restriction. Read more about Thistle Dew.

Stewardship Technicians Join SVT for the Summer

We are pleased to announce that Deven Moroney and Kayleen Larose have joined the SVT staff as Seasonal Stewardship Technicians. Hiring new staff during a time of social distancing is tricky, but our Stewardship staff is successfully training Deven and Kayleen while following all safety precautions.

Deven, who is studying Wildlife Ecology at the University of Maine, is an Eagle Scout who has also volunteered at Mass Audubon's Broad Meadow Brook Sanctuary. Kayleen holds a B.S. from Plymouth State University and has served in the AmeriCorps program with U.S. Fish and Wildlife. She also has been an apprentice with the U.S. Forest Service.

In their first few weeks on the job, Deven and Kalyeen have helped with a trail closure to prevent erosion at Greenways Reservation in Wayland, removed invasive plants at several reservations, posted signs, and participated in a wild plant inventory at Memorial Forest in Sudbury.

Most recently, they removed Oriental bittersweet at a stream crossing at Memorial Forest and also installed a section of fence to keep dogs out of Hop Brook. (A reminder to all visitors: Please keep your dogs leashed at all times and do not let them run into the water at our reservations.)

You're likely to see Deven and Kayleen diligently working on our properties this summer. Be sure to say hello!

Webinar Programs Scheduled for Summer 2020

In place of our usual in-person outings and educational events, SVT has scheduled several webinar programs for this summer.

Topics will include beavers, wildflowers, and monarch butterflies. Some programs are open exclusively to SVT members. 

Not a member? Join Today

Visit our Calendar page to register (Registration required. Space is limited.)

  • Spring Wildflowers with Ted Elliman
  • Introduction to Foraging with Rachel Goclawski 
  • Magical Monarchs with Dr. Elke Jahns-Harms
  • Invasives Management: Our Gardens and the Big Picture with SVT's Kristin O'Brien (Member Exclusive)
  • Lives of Beaver with SVT's Dan Stimson (Member Exclusive)
  • Bees, Birds & Butterflies in the Garden with SVT's Lisa Vernegaard (Member Exclusive)

As we schedule more online programs, we'll add them to our Calendar and also announce them on Facebook.

SVT Continues Opposition to Eversource Project at Memorial Forest

Many species of wildlife find habitat in Memorial Forest. Photo by Dan Foster.
Many species of wildlife find habitat in Memorial Forest. Photo by Dan Foster.

(Update, 7/1/2020: The hearing planned for June 15, 2020, has been continued for a second time until July 8, 2020.)

For the past several years, SVT has opposed the efforts of Eversource to place a 115-kv transmission line along an abandoned MBTA railroad corridor that runs through Sudbury, Marlborough, Stow, and Hudson.

The proposed underground utility line will cut through hundreds of acres of conservation land that was paid for with private, municipal, state, and federal dollars. This includes the Desert Natural Area, which sits at the intersection of Hudson, Marlborough, and Sudbury and incorporates SVT's Memorial Forest.

In 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) announced its support of the Eversource project. DCR also announced that it would like to install a recreational trail atop the proposed utility line.

The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board approved the project in December 2019, and Eversource and DCR have now filed a joint Notice of Intent to construct the transmission line and a paved recreational path along the MBTA right of way, which extends for more than seven miles from Sudbury to Hudson.

The Sudbury Conservation Commission held a public hearing on this Notice of Intent at its April 13, 2020, and compiled 11 pages of questions that are expected to be addressed by Eversource at another public hearing on June 15.

At SVT, we have followed the Eversource proposal closely, and we have determined that the installation and maintenance of the transmission line will severely impact a globally rare natural community, several listed rare species, a rich assemblage of wetland resource areas, and hundreds of acres of conservation lands. We have filed several public letters of opposition as the project has wended its way through regulatory reviews.

On April 16, SVT filed a public letter of opposition to the Notice of Intent. We believe that there are enough significant differences between the utility line and recreational trail projects that their environmental impacts must be assessed independently. We are urging the conservation commissions of all three communities--Sudbury, Hudson, and Marlborough-- to consider the full scope of the environmental impacts along the entire length of the MBTA right of way and to coordinate their reviews of the proposal.

An SVT staff member will attend the Sudbury Conservation Commission public hearing on June 15, and we invite our Sudbury members to attend as well.

You can learn more about the project at:

Open Space Conference Webinars Available Online

The 2020 Massachusetts Open Space Conference, which became a series of six webinars when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the in-person event, has posted its webinars online. 

The annual conference is a peer-to-peer learning event where volunteer members of municipal open space committees and conservation commissions share information about successful projects and possible funding sources. SVT AmeriCorps Member Sara Amish was part of the committee that planned the 2020 conference.

The six webinars from the 2020 conference are designed for anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of municipal open space projects:

  • The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program
  • Creating Open Space Committees & Keeping Them Alive
  • Land Protection Basics: How a Community Can Protect Land
  • Stewarding Town Land
  • Navigating the Community Preservation Act
  • Outreach to Landowners in Your Community

 

Help Pull Garlic Mustard at Cowassock Woods

Rob St. Germain, a member of the Ashland Town Forest Committee and an SVT Volunteer, has been working to reduce garlic mustard and other invasive plants at the entrance to SVT's Cowassock Woods Reservation in Framingham.

So far, Rob has collected enough garlic mustard to fill three large rice bags and a large contractor bag. And there's still more to go.

You can help!  Please feel free to go on your own to Cowassock Woods and pull garlic mustard from around the entrance kiosk on Salem End Road. Garlic mustard can be piled tightly on a rock to dry out and die. (Please send us a photo to show us how much you pull!)

For tips on identifying and pulling garlic mustard, watch this video created by Kristin O'Brien, SVT Land Steward.

SVT Responds to "Mosquito Spraying" Bill

Update May 26, 2020: The Joint Committee on Public Health has redrafted the bill, and initial reports indicate that the new version addresses our concerns. 

On April 16, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker filed a bill with the Massachusetts Legislature that covers statewide spraying to reduce the mosquito population. The Governor filed the bill--H.4650 An Act to Mitigate Arbovirus in the Commonwealth--to “empower the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board to engage in mosquito control activities across the Commonwealth, even in areas where there is no legislative authority to take action today, when the Commissioner of Public Health determines that an elevated risk of arbovirus exists.”   

Many conservation groups, including SVT, oppose this measure. 

We are concerned about the broad overreach of this bill. H. 4650 would exempt the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board from all state laws and allow them to conduct mosquito eradication measures anywhere in the Commonwealth, even if municipalities do not want spraying in their towns. The bill will allow the Mosquito Control Board to do this work based on a determination from Department of Public Health that there might be an elevated risk of mosquito borne disease in the next year. Once passed, this bill has no sunset clause.

During the public comment period, which ended on May 11, SVT Executive Director Lisa Vernegaard submitted a letter in opposition, writing "Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) opposes this legislation as written because it has broad overreach, does not provide for coordination with other agencies, lacks notification to impacted municipalities, and also lacks a sunset provision."

Lisa explained that "It is absolutely essential that prior to use of 'mosquito control activities', the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board should notify municipalities and the public to minimize exposure to these chemicals" and that "Many people grow their own food, with an increasing emphasis on organic methods. Landowners should not be subjected to pesticides sprayed on their homes and gardens without their knowledge or consent."

Read the full text of Lisa's letter.

The bill is now being considered by the Joint Committee on Public Health. We'll keep you informed if it gets voted out of committee and is brought before the full legislature. In the meantime, we encourage you to contact your representatives and share your comments.

SVT Comments on Hunting Expansion at Wildlife Refuges

Photo by Steve Forman.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is proposing an expansion of hunting opportunities at three national wildlife refuges in the SVT region: Great Meadows (regional), Assabet River (Sudbury-Marlborough-Maynard), and Oxbow (Harvard). Hunting has been permitted at these three refuges since 2005. 

The proposal would enlarge the area where hunting is permitted, promote opportunities for disadvantaged groups, and add some additional species, including bear, coyote, and fox. 

While SVT supports nature-based recreational hunting that focuses on species that are abundant and used for food, SVT opposes the hunting of bear, coyote, and fox, and we have submitted a public letter stating this opposition.

The USFWS has posted the draft hunt plans for expansion of hunting opportunities on its website.

The website also includes:

SVT Programs Cancelled Until End of May

Photo by Mark Levinson

In compliance with Governor Baker's extension of the statewide shutdown, the SVT office at Wolbach Farm is closed until at least May 18. We have also cancelled all programs through the end of May.

Our staff members are working from home and can still receive and respond to voicemails and emails.

During this stressful time, our trails remain open for independent walks. Please follow guidelines recommended by government health agencies, and please review our policies for parking and dog walking at this time. Please also review our regular Trail Policies.