Mary J. Metzger

Apr 012015
 
This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series A Swarm of Drumlins

Snowdrops pushing through left over snow in the April sunshineArt Campbell | The Groton Line

Snowdrops pushing through left over snow in the April sunshine

The Devens Regional Household Hazardous Products Collection Center is open to Groton residents Wednesday, April 1, and Saturday April 4, 9 a.m.- noon. Proof of residency is required, and there is a charge for disposal. For more information www.devenshhw.com

Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA) Water Monitoring Volunteers Orientation and Training Session, Thursday, April 2, 7- 8 p.m. at the River Resource Center, 592 Main St (RT 119). For the 23rd season, April-October, volunteers will monitor 43 sites on rivers and streams throughout the watershed. Contact Kathryn Nelson, KathrynN@NashuaRiverWatershed.org. Funded in part by a grant from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation. FREE.

Saturday, April 4, Early Spring Wildlife Workshop, 1-4 p.m., Williams Barn and the Chestnut Hills trail area. For adults and children ages 11 and up. Will focus on four distinct habitats and the animals that survive and thrive here after a challenging winter.  Fee: $15/person NRWA members, $20/nonmembers. Pre-reservations required; space is limited. Contact Stacey Chilcoat, NRWA River Classroom Director, at (978) 448-0299, or email StaceyC@NashuaRiverWatershed.org.

Groton Public Library’s Groton READS 2015 selection is Following Atticus: Forty Eight High Peaks, one Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship, by Tom Ryan, a story of the transformative powers of hiking the New Hampshire 4,000 footer mountains. Copies of the book are available at the Circulation Desk. Related activities in April include:

Nick Wilder, Wednesday, April 8, 7 p.m., for Adults & Teens 14+ 10,200 Reasons to Go Off-the-Grid: A Semester in the Colorado Rockies, Sibley Hall at the library.

Sunday Afternoon with Tom & Atticus, Sunday, April 12, 2 p.m. (doors open at 1 p.m.), for Adults & Mature Teens ONLY. Meet at GD Middle School, 344 Main Street. Register ASAP, as Tom has a huge fan base and seats are going to go fast!

Orienteering Workshop for Teens: Part I Tuesday, April 21, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Sibley Hall

Orienteering Workshop for Teens: Part II Sunday, April 26, 2:00-4:00 p.m., Groton Town Forest.

For more information and to register for these and other programs www.gpl.org

Hazel Grove Agricultural Association (HGAA) is looking for volunteers Saturday, April 11, 9 a.m., Hazel Grove Cleanup  and Sunday April 25, to help run the XCountry Derby at Hazel Grove Park / Groton Fairgrounds, 166 Jenkins Rd.  If you can spare an hour or more, contact Jean Armstrong at jean@hgaa.org  or 978-448-2827.

Olin Lathrop of the Groton Trails Committee and the Appalachian Mountain Club will lead a two-hour Guided Hike at Groton Hills, Sunday, April 12, 1 p.m. Walk through deep woods, past a pretty pond, and to the top of a 500 foot hill that was a popular local ski area decades ago. Take RT. 40 (Lowell Rd.) then School House Rd. for 1 mile. Turn left onto Kailey’s Way. Park at the cul-de-sac at the end of Kailey’s Way.  FREE

Sunday, April 19, 1:00-3:00 p.m. Trails Walk Throne Hill.  Join members of the Groton Trails Committee on an early spring guided hike through one of the largest contiguous undeveloped parcels in the area.  Take Townsend Rd. in Groton to Rockwood Lane.  Meet at the end of Rockwood Lane at the top of the hill.  FREE.  Dave Minott (978) 448-9574 DMinott@charter.net

The Butterflies of the Bird World — Introduction to North American Wood Warblers Presentation by Mark Archambault, NRWA Smart Growth Circuit Rider. Thursday, April 23, 7:00 — 9 p.m. at the River Resource Center, 592 Main St, (RT 119).  FREE. Preregister at (978) 448-0299 or email MarkA@nashuariverwatershed.org

Saturday, April 25, 9 a.m., Rail Trails Cleanup Sat. April 25, 9 a.m. Dept. Of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Friends of the Nashua River Rail Trail “Park Serve Day” cleanup of the Nashua River Rail Trail. Meet at the Sand Hill Rd. parking lot, in Groton, to receive trash bags and instructions.
24th Annual Groton Road Race, sponsored by the Squannacook River Runners, Sunday, April 26 features four distinct races beginning at 10:45 a.m.:  Tots’ Trot2K Fun Run5K, 10K. New this year the Virtual Race category which can be run anywhere. Register online — www.grotonroadrace.com

Groton Turtle Conservation and NRWA co-sponsor a Linking Landscapes Lecture, Wednesday, April 29, 7 p.m., at the NRWA River Resource Center, 592 Main St. Groton.  David Paulson from MA Natural Heritage and Endangered Species (NHESP) will talk about the cooperative effort with MASS DOT (Department of Transportation) to identify areas on roadways with high levels of wildlife crossings and mortalities. Using over 350 citizen volunteers’ data, the two agencies work to improve methods of road construction and conservation to protect wildlife. An optional volunteer monitor training will follow the lecture. RSVP 978-448-0299  pamg@nashuariverwatershed.org FREE

Job Opportunity-Nashoba Paddler. Two positions, Canoe Guide and Shoreline Educator, with NRWA River Classroom® part time during May, June, September, and October. Work with school groups on the Nashua and Squannacook Rivers in inquiry-based science education. Forward resume or summary of qualifications to diane@nashobapaddler.com

Thinking Ahead — NRWA’s Summer Eco-Adventures: Wilderness Summer Survival Week for Ages 11 to 14 June 23 — June 26, 2015 (Tues-Fri), from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wild World of Water Week for Ages 6 to 8 July 13 — July 16, 2015 (Monday — Fri), from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.       All Things Animal: Incredible Insects, Secretive Salamanders & Outrageous Otters for Ages 9 to 11  July 20 — July 23, 2015 (Mon — Thurs), from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To preregister or for more information, contact Stacey Chilcoat,  at (978) 448-0299, or StaceyC@NashuaRiverWatershed.org

Friends of the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge, Saturday, April 18 1:00 — 3 p.m.; Vernal Pools. Explore vernal pools with guide, Rona Balco. Meet in the parking lot at the end of Still River Depot Road in Harvard, MA. For further information, contact Rona at 978-779-2259.

Saturday, April 18 and Saturday, April 25, at 6:45 p.m. (Rain dates: Sunday 19 and 26). Woodcocks. Listen and watch for the courtship flight of the American woodcock. Meet: Partway down Still River Depot Road in Harvard at the NWR sign on the right. Contact Don Macfarlane 978-897-7567.

Connecting Communities in Gardner: Wellness Walk Celebrating Earth and Arbor Day, Saturday, April 25, 10 a.m. Into and RSVP www.freedomsway.org  978-630-4014.


Feb 022015
 
This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series A Swarm of Drumlins

Sledding at Town FieldMary Metzger

Sledding at Town Field

The Groton Public Library is hosting a Woods Forum, Wednesday, February 4, 7 p.m. with informal meeting 6:30-7:00 p.m. This presentation, facilitated by UMass extension Professor Dave Kittredge, will discuss various options for private land owners in Ayer, Dunstable, Groton, Harvard, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend, and Westford to manage and make informed decisions about their land. FREE and open to the public. For more information, see http://masswoods.net/woods-forum.

The Groton Conservation Trust, the Groton Conservation Commission, and the Groton Trails Committee are sponsoring the first Groton Conservation Forum, Wednesday, February 11, 7 p.m. at the Groton Country Club, 94 Lovers Lane. According to a news release from the Trust, the three sponsoring groups “… invite organizations and individuals with interests in conservation and recreation in Groton to the First Annual Groton Conservation Forum on Wednesday February 11, 2015, at 7 p.m. at the Groton Country Club.

The Forum is being established to improve communications, coordinate activities, and share information among conservation and recreation groups and with the public, as well as to celebrate conservation efforts in Groton.

Mark Gerath of the Groton Conservation Trust, who will chair the first forum, said, “We all feel very lucky to have access to Groton’s abundance of natural resources. We are excited by our collective accomplishments to protect, enhance, nd help others enjoy what our town offers. We hope that everyone with an interest in Conservation in Groton will attend the Forum and join with others in making our collective efforts better.”

The Groton Trails Committee and the Appalachian Mountain Club will lead a Guided Winter Hike, Sunday, February 15, 1:00 — 3 p.m. at the McLain’s Woods. They will also explore some brand-new trails recently opened on the adjacent Cox-Walker conservation land. From Reedy Meadow Rd., turn onto McLain’s Woods Rd. Go about 0.1 mile, staying left. Park at the trail head on the right (south) side of the road, next to an open field. For into: olin@embedinc.com, (978) 742-9014. FREE.

Know Your Trees with Michael Wojtech, author of Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast, Wednesday, February 18, 7:00- 9 p.m. at the NRWA River Resource Center, 592 Main Street. Learn how to identify trees in your own woods. Michael is known for his animated lectures on tree identification and ecology in New England. He earned his Master’s degree in Conservation Biology from Antioch New England. FREE. Made possible in part by a grant from the Groton Trust Funds’ Lecture Fund. To preregister, contact Pam Gilfillan, (978) 448-0299, PamG@NashuaRiverWatershed.org.

Think Spring! Online registration is open for the Sunday, April 26 Groton Road Race. www.grotonroadrace.com

Groton Public Library’s Groton READS 2015 selection is Following Atticus: Forty Eight High Peaks, one Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship, by Tom Ryan, a story of the transformative powers of hiking the New Hampshire 4,000 footer mountains. Copies of the book are available at the Circulation Desk. Watch for related activities in March and April.

In the Area

The Middlesex Conservation District is now accepting orders for their Spring 2015 Plant Sale. Order deadline is March 31, with plants picked up at the Westford Fairgrounds the weekend of April 24. Many native plants are available. www.middlesexconservation.org

New England Grows! 2015 Expo Wednesday-Friday, February 4-6, Boston Exhibition and Convention Center. Education, trends, products available for the professional horticultural and green industry. Registration required for attendance.www.newenglandgrows.org.

Saturday, February 7, Merrimack River Eagle Festival, Newburyport. Coordinated by MassAudubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center, 1 Plum Island Turnpike, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, 6 Plum Island Turnpike. This annual winter event is a great opportunity to learn about eagles in the area. 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. Full day of FREE activities.

Fruitlands Museum, 102 Prospect Rd., Harvard, is hosting a Snowshoeing Clinic, Sunday, February 8, 12 p.m. Meet the staff of Eastern Mountain Sports and learn the essentials of snowshoeing on the Fruitlands fields. Equipment will be available for rentals. Free.

Food for Thought Film Series: Cherokee Word for Water, Wednesday, February 18, 7 p.m. Free, and soup is $5 per person. Based the true story of the Bell Waterline Project, the movie is about a community coming together to improve the welfare of its residents.

Nature Walk: A Sense of Place at Great Meadows NWR Sunday, February 15, 3:00 — 5 p.m.
Join naturalist Cherrie Corey for her continuing exploration of the Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge landscape; walks of winter revelation and sunset splendors. $5/person voluntary donation is requested. No preregistration required. Meet at the information kiosk by the parking lot, Great Meadows NWR in Concord (Monsen Rd, off RTE. 62, driveway on left where road curves right). Co-sponsored by the Friends of the Assabet River NWR, Musketaquid Arts and Environment Program, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Uncommon Loons, Sunday, February 22, 3 p.m. Free presentation for all ages at the Quabbin Reservoir Visitor Center, 485 Ware Rd. Belchertown. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) watersheds are breeding areas for the largest concentration of Common Loons in Massachusetts. Join DCR Wildlife Biologist Jill Whitney for a program about these beautiful birds, how they are monitored and what we have learned about them.

Harvard Forest Spring Seminars Fridays at 11 a.m. in the Harvard Forest Seminar Room, 324 North Main St. Petersham. Also available by web-streaming. Since 1988, the Harvard Forest has been a Long-Term Ecological Research Site, funded by the National Science Foundation to conduct integrated, long-term studies of forest dynamics. Since 2011, the Harvard Forest has been the Northeast Core site for the National Ecological Observatory Network. Seminars are free and open to the public, no preregistration is required. http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/seminars . For more information, contact Audrey Barker Plotkin (aabarker@fas.harvard.edu)


Dec 012014
 
This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series A Swarm of Drumlins

Snow covered equipment heralds the snow season at Williams ' BarnMary Metzger

Snow covered equipment heralds the snow season at Williams’ Barn


The Devens Regional Household Hazardous Products Collection Center is open to Groton residents Wednesday, December 3, and Saturday December 6, 9 a.m.- Noon. Proof of residency is required, and there is a charge for disposal. For more information www.devenshhw.com

Nashua River Watershed Association’s Holiday Online Auction 2014 ends on December 5. To sign up for Email Updates, or for more information, contact Pam Gilfillan, 978-448-0299, PamG@NashuaRiverWatershed.org or visit www.nashuariverwatershed.org

Hazel Grove Agricultural Association is offering tack and riding gear at a Tack Sale and Indoor Yard Sale, Saturday, December 6, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Groton Grange, 80 Champney Street. If interested in a table, please contact linda@hgaa.org. Table rentals benefit the Groton Fairgrounds.

The Groton Woman’s Club Greens Sale, will be held Saturday, December 6, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (snow date: Sunday, Dec. 7) at the Williams Barn, 160 Chicopee Row. Holiday greens, cookies, ornaments, and raffle tickets for a handmade quilt will be on sale. Proceeds go toward scholarships for students at Groton-Dunstable High School, Nashoba Valley Technical High School and the Francis W. Parker Charter School. Cash and checks are accepted. For information call Nancy at 978-448-3181 or Tracey at 978-448-2245.

Groton Trails Committee will lead a guided hike at the Gamlin Crystal Spring Conservation Area, Sunday, December 7, at 1PM sharp. This 2 hour walk, suitable for families with children, features dense woods, rocky outcrops, beaver ponds, huge boulders, and an old “lost” quarry. Take Lowell Rd. (RT. 40) to Old Dunstable Rd. Meet at the trail head parking lot on the left, just past the sign for the Gamlin Conservation Area.

Birders of all skills can join the 115-year old Christmas Bird Count, happening in the Groton/Oxbow area on Sunday, December 14. Contact Julie Lisk at 978/272-1151 or email at julielisk@gmail.com The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. provides long-term data on the status of birds. For information on other counting circle sites visit http://massbird.org/birdobserver/cbc/

Olin Lathrop, of The Groton Trails Committee and Appalachian Mountain Club will lead a Guided Walk Along the Nashua River, Sunday, December 14, 1:00- 3 p.m. beginning in the Farmers & Mechanics Conservation Area. Meet at the Groton Fairgrounds parking area at the end of Jenkins Rd.

The Groton Country Club is open for play until the snow falls. Book tee times online at www.grotonpoolandgolf.com or call the Pro Shop at 978-448-2564.

In the Area

Connecting Communities Along Our Trails — In Sterling, MA, Sunday, December 7, 1 p.m.
A Winter Walk at Waushacum Overlook followed by holiday music, hot chocolate and cookies at the Rittenhouse School of Music & Art part of the historic Butterick estate. Meet at the main trail head off Tara Lane. FREE. Please RSVP by contacting Brian Cline at 978-422-2901 (phone), 978-422-2907 (fax), or Cline.Brian@gmail.com

Fruitlands Museum 102 Prospect Rd. Harvard MA Family Drop-in Workshop: Homespun Winter Crafts Saturday, December 13, 10 a.m. FREE with admission. No registration required.
Winter Walk: A Guided Trail Walk, Saturday, December 27, 1 p.m. Member Admission: FREE
Non-Member Admission: $5 www.fruitlands.org

Outdoors This Week: Activities and Destinations West of Boston A weekly listing of regional outdoor activities can be found at: www.sudburyvalleytrustees.org/OTW

Moonlight Walk for Adults at Mass Audubon’s Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, Princeton. Saturday, December 13, 6:00-8:00 p.m. $6 members, $8 nonmembers Preregister at 978-464-2712 or www.massaudubon.org/catalog

Friends of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge Winter Solstice Night Hike Sunday, December 21, 6:00 — 7:30 p.m. RSVP required by 3 p.m. on Fri, December 19 to reception desk at Visitor Center 680 Hudson Road, Sudbury MA 978-562-3527 x111 or email Kizette at kizette_ortizvanger@fws.gov.

Teachers and their students are invited to participate in the Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp (JDS) Program. This conservation education program is designed to stimulate awareness and personal involvement in waterfowl & wetland conservation for students in grades K-12 through a student art project. Art will be reviewed in four categories: grades K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12 with prizes offered to the top 25 entrants in each age category. The overall state winner will represent Massachusetts at the national competition. Contact Pam Landry, MassWildlife Education Coordinator at Pam.Landry@state.ma.us or at (508) 389-6310.

The Appalachian Mountain Club supports full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Established in 1964, this program authorizes Congress to allocate $900 million annually to create parks and open spaces, protect wilderness, wetlands, and refuges, preserve wildlife habitat, and enhance recreational opportunities for everyone. Funding for LWCF comes from a portion of the federal proceeds received from oil and gas leasing on the Outer continental shelf. The outdoor recreation economy in the United States generates $646 billion. For more information www.lwcfcoalition.org


Nov 032014
 
This entry is part 7 of 10 in the series A Swarm of Drumlins

Autumn at the Gamlin Springs Conservation AreaMary Metzger

Autumn at the Gamlin Springs Conservation Area

The Devens Regional Household Hazardous Products Collection Center is open to Groton residents Wednesday, November 5, and Saturday November 8, 9 a.m.- Noon. Proof of residency is required, and there is a charge for disposal. For more information www.devenshhw.com

Groton Lions Club Birdseed Sale, Saturday, November 8, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. in front of the Prescott School, Main Street.

Groton Conservation Trust’s 50th Birthday Bash, Saturday, November 8, Williams Barn, Chicopee Row. 2-3:00 p.m. Guided hikes, birdhouse building. 3-4:00 p.m. The Creature Teachers will be showing off some critters. Music by Contra Banditos.  5 p.m. At the Vestry of Groton’s First Parish Church, Main Street, Ben Kilham will talk about his years of rescuing and returning orphaned black bears into the wilds of New Hampshire. Cupcakes and cider. FREE. RSVP info@gctrust.org

Groton Trails Committee  will lead a Gamlin Crystal Spring Conservation Area Esker Trail Walk, Sunday, November 9, 1 p.m.  Hike together through the woods, up and over a beautiful esker overlooking Cow Pond Brook and flanking a large wetland area where beavers are very active. Suitable for families with children. Meet at the very end of Cow Pond Brook Rd., just past the transfer station.

Nashua River Watershed Association 2014 annual meeting, Thursday, November 13, 7 p.m. at the Devens Common Center, 31 Andrews Parkway, Devens, will feature keynote speaker Wayne Klockner, Director of The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts. Full evening ticket price, $20 per person, includes reception and dessert. As always, the business meeting and speaking portions of the evening can be attended at no charge, but reservations are required by November 5th. www.nashuariverwatershed.org  978-448-0299

Nashua River Watershed Association’s Holiday Online Auction 2014 begins November 20 and ends on December 5.  Items for donation are accepted until November 17. To make a donation, see a wish list, sign up for Email Updates, or for more information, contact Pam Gilfillan, 978-448-0299, PamG@NashuaRiverWatershed.org or visit www.nashuariverwatershed.org

The Groton Thanksgiving Holiday Farmer’s Market is Saturday, November 22, 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. at the Williams Barn, 160 Chicopee Row.

Annual Ayer/Groton Hills AMC Walk, Friday, November 28, 10 a.m. Explore the natural areas between the Nashua River and the Snake Hills. Exact route determined on the fly. Some bushwhacking possible. Bring warm clothes and lunch for the 7 mile 5 hour hike. Meet leader Olin Lathrop in the Northwest corner of the parking lot behind Nashoba Valley Medical Center, 200  Groton Road in Ayer.

Individuals and organizations may comment on the FERC Application submitted by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company. Information at www.townofgroton.org  under Announcements.

In the Area

Central Mass Railroad Hike, Sunday, November 2, 10 a.m.-Noon. Rain or Shine. Learn how the Central Mass Railroad was realigned for the construction of the Wachusett Reservoir. You will see the remnants of the railroad still visible today along the North Dike. Historic maps and pictures will be on display. Meet at Gate 39 at the intersection of West Boylston St. and South Meadow Rd., Clinton. Part of DCR’s Wachusett Reservoir Free Interpretive Programs.

Red Sox Hall of Famer Luis Tiant, Jr. will make an appearance at a fundraiser to benefit Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Aguacate, Cuba. Saturday, November 8, 7:00-10:00 p.m. at St. Catherine’s Parish Hall, 107 North Main St. Westford. The suggested donation for admission is $5.00 per individual, $10.00 per family.  978-692-8416

Annual Bonfire Night, Saturday, November 8, 5 p.m. Free family event to help welcome the Winter Season with a bonfire, drummers, light sticks, and s’mores. Constructed to look like a giant birthday cake, the centennial bonfire will cast a warm glow and illuminate the autumn sky. Fruitlands Museum 102 Prospect Rd. Harvard MA  www.fruitlands.org

The Return of Bald Eagles to Massachusetts, Tuesday, November 18, 7:00-8:30 p.m. at Sudbury Valley Trustees Wolbach Farm. This presentation from MassWildlife’s Andrew Vitz, State Ornithologist, reports on the success of restoring Bald Eagles to Massachusetts in 1982. Today eagle populations continue to grow and have expanded their range to include nearly the entire state of Massachusetts. The program is free for SVT members and $10 for nonmembers. Registration required.  www.sudburyvalleytrustees.org

Friends of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge Monthly Speaker Series presents DCR’s Senior Wildlife Biologist, Ken MacKenzie, talking about “The Loons of Massachusetts”, Wednesday, November 19, 7 p.m. at the US Fish and Wildlife Services’ Eastern Mass. Visitor Center, 680 Hudson Road, Sudbury MA.  Loons were reintroduced to Massachusetts in 1975, after their extirpation in the early 1900s, and now have active breeding areas on the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs. Free and open to the public.

A reminder that hunting season is beginning. The Groton Police Department recommends the wearing of colorful clothes, like hunter’s orange, while in the woods. There is no hunting on Sundays in Massachusetts.  For more information on hunting in Groton:  http://grotonpd.org/Hunting.html


Oct 042014
 
This entry is part 6 of 10 in the series A Swarm of Drumlins

Sulphur Shelf "Chicken of the Woods" Mushroom found in Shepley Hill Conservation AreaMary Metzger

Sulphur Shelf “Chicken of the Woods” Mushroom found in Shepley Hill Conservation Area

The Devens Regional Household Hazardous Products Collection Center is open to Groton residents Wednesday, October 1, and Saturday October 4, 9 a.m.- noon. Proof of residency is required, and there is a charge for disposal. For more information www.devenshhw.com

Get to Know Main Street As part of the Groton Public Library’s Lifelong Learning Series, former history and art museum director, Lili Ott, will lead tours of many of Groton’s landmarks, for five sessions beginning Thursday, October 2, 10:30 a.m.- noon, with a different theme each week. Sign-up at www.gpl.org

Groton Farmer’s Market Fridays 3 p.m.-dusk at the Williams Barn, 160 Chicopee Rd. A variety of homegrown products plus these live musicians: October 3-Contra Banditos, October 10-Aisling Keating/ with Irish Music.

Nashoba Paddler, 398 West Main St., Groton, is offering Fall Foliage Paddle, Sunday, October 5,8:30-11 a.m. Reflections of autumn foliage enhance the special beauty of this river. We will paddle along its narrow, meandering channel into areas of lily ponds and woodlands and stop for a scenic picnic along the way.
Trip difficulty: Easy, flat-water, 3 miles round trip.
Cost: $32pp-canoe, $52pp-kayak. (Box lunch available for an additional cost or pack your own)  Registration is required.http://www.nashobapaddler.com/

Groton Country Club 94 Lover’s Lane. Octoberfest, Saturday, October 11. The Groton Country Club will host a fun tournament in which players will navigate the course backward! The shotgun begins at 1 p.m. Entry fee is $16 for members and $ 22.50 for nonmembers, carts, golf, beer tasting, and bratwurst included.

The Groton Pony Club will sponsor a 3-Phase Schooling Show, Sunday, October 12. Riders must register, but spectators are welcome at the Groton Fairgrounds on Jenkins Road between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. as riders and their horses demonstrate mastery of dressage, stadium jumping, and cross country jumping in competition. www.groton.ponyclub.org

Olin Lathrop, of the Groton Trails Committee and the Appalachian Mountain Club, will lead a guided walk through newly acquired conservation land featuring beaver ponds, eskers, streams, and fall foliage of the New England woods Sunday October 12, 1- 3 p.m. Meet in the Williams Barn parking area on Chicopee Row.  A hike is also scheduled for Saturday, October 18, 1 p.m. for spectacular fall foliage views from the Gibbet and Scarlet Hill trails. Meet in the parking lot of Gibbet Hill Grill, Rt. 40.

17th Annual Groton Town Forest Trail Race begins 12:30 p.m. Sunday October 19, at the Groton Senior Center, 163 West Main St. Some of the proceeds go to the Groton Trails Committee which maintains and maps 100 trails in Groton. Online registration at www.grotontftr.freeservers.com

Water Chestnuts in the Nashua River, Thursday, October 23, 7 p.m.  Learn about the Nashua River Watershed Association’s efforts to eradicate this aggressive aquatic invasive plant. 592 Main Street. For more information or to preregister, please contact Martha Morgan at (978) 448-0299, or email MarthaM@NashuaRiverWatershed.org

Clean-up Day at Hazel Grove Park Many hands make light work. Saturday October 25, 10 a.m.-noon, off Jenkins Rd.

Volunteer Opportunity: The Nashua River Rail Trail Committee welcomes additional members to promote maintenance and use of the trail, which goes through Ayer, Groton, Dunstable, and Pepperell. Interested persons may contact Marion Stoddart marion.ov40fun@verizon.net

Michael Veit has provided NRWA with a Resource List for anyone who wants to learn more about native bees, their biology, diversity, and conservation.  An August 11 link can be found at the Facebook Page Official Nashua River Watershed Association.

Individuals and organizations may comment on the FERC Application submitted by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company. Information at www.townofgroton.org  under Announcements.

In the Area

Saturday, October 4, 9 a.m.- Noon Fall Foliage Walk and Trail Work Patrol with the Ayer Greenway Committee:  Meet Takashi Tada and Steve Smith at the Pine Meadow Conservation Area Trailhead on Groton Harvard Road.  Bring tick protection, cameras, hand saws, loppers, hand clippers, and drinking water.  Families are welcome.  Contact Steve at 978-821-2916 for information.

Connecting Communities-Along Our Trails 2014 Friday, October 10, 7 p.m. guided twilight walk and campfire at Sholan Farms, Pleasant Street in Leominister.  Saturday, October 11, 3 p.m.  Food and Forage at Sholan Farms-guided orchard tour and wagon ride. Preregistration required at info@sholanfarms.com  978-840-3276.

Fruitlands Museum   102 Prospect Rd. Harvard MA      www.fruitlands.org Saturday, October 4, Archaeology Day, activities 11 a.m.-3:15 p.m.

Saturday, October 11 & amp; Sunday, October 12, Harvest Weekend  Family activities beginning at 10 a.m.

Thursday, October 23, Ecology Lecture: Dr. Richard Orson, 7 p.m. A look at the spread of Phragmites australis.

State of the Birds Report 2014 One hundred years after the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon, the nation’s top bird scientists from conservation groups and agencies have come together again to publish the fifth State of the Birds report. www.stateofthebirds.org

It Is Hunting Season — Wear Orange!

A reminder that hunting season is beginning. The Groton Police Department recommends the wearing of colorful clothes, like hunter’s orange, while in the woods. There is no hunting on Sundays in Massachusetts.  For more information on hunting in Groton:  http://grotonpd.org/Hunting.html


Aug 302014
 
This entry is part 5 of 10 in the series A Swarm of Drumlins
A bee gathering pollen on goldenrod, one of the most ecologically valuable native plants — it supports hundreds of pollinatorsMary J. Metzger

A bee gathering pollen on goldenrod, one of the most ecologically valuable native plants — it supports hundreds of pollinators

The Groton Firefighters Association annual Labor Day Muster and BBQ, Monday, September 1, begins with an 11 a.m. parade, with food available at noon, and muster activities at 12:30 p.m. at the H & V field, 250 Townsend Rd. West Groton. Boy Scout Troop 1 will hold a yard sale 8 a.m.- 2 p.m. in conjunction with the event. Donation Drop Off: Sunday, Aug. 31 from 9 a.m. — 5 p.m. at H & V field. If you need a pickup at your home, contact Natalie Marsh at 978-448-6481 or natmarsh22@yahoo.com).

The Devens Regional Household Hazardous Products Collection Center is open to Groton residents Wednesday, September 3, and Saturday September 6, 9 a.m.- Noon. Proof of residency is required, and there is a charge for disposal. For more information www.devenshhw.com

Groton Farmers Market Fridays 3 p.m.-7 p.m. at the Williams Barn, 160 Chicopee Rd. A variety of homegrown products plus these live musicians: September 5-Shea & Finn McGillivray, September 12-Kenny Selcer, September 19- Howie Newman, September 26-Back to the Garden

Nashoba Paddler, 398 West Main St., Groton, is offering Full Moon Canoeing, Saturday, September 6, 7:30-10:30 p.m. and Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge Paddle, Saturday, September 20, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Registration is required. http://www.nashobapaddler.com/

The Nashua River Watershed Association will sponsor a Hawk Watch and Hike, Saturday, September 13, time and place TBD. Birder, Mark Archambault will lead a 3 hour hike up a mountain to observe thousands of hawks riding the thermals of the Wapack Range during their southward migration. FREE, but limited to the first 20 people who register. (978) 448-0299, or email MarkA@NashuaRiverWatershed.org

What’s in Your Back Yard? Identifying Invasive and Native Plants Susan (Yeager) Black and Mary Metzger will lead a short talk and hands-on walk to learn how to control the common invasive plants in Groton and encourage native vegetation. Saturday, September 13, 1 p.m. Groton Public Library.

The Groton Trails Committee and the Appalachian Mountain Club will sponsor a Guided Hike, led by Olin Lathrop on the Rocky Hill section of the Wharton Plantation. Sunday, September 14, 1:00-3:00 p.m. From Rt. 40 (Lowell Rd.), take Old Dunstable Rd. north for 0.9 miles. Bear left onto Rocky Hill Rd (a gravel road). Proceed 0.3 miles to where Rocky Hill Rd. turns into Martins Pond Rd. Park at the sign for Wharton Plantation trails.

Hazel Grove Agricultural Association is hosting its annual cross country derby at the Groton Equestrian Fairgrounds on Jenkins Rd, Sunday, September 14, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. For more information see Hazel Grove Groton on Facebook or contact Jean Armstrong — jean@hgaa.org or 978-448-2827 with any questions or to reserve a time. The group will also sponsor a New England Horse & Trail Ride and versatility challenge Sunday, September 28, 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. to benefit the Hazel Grove Park. For more information http://hgaa.org/trailride/

GrotonFest 2014 is scheduled for Saturday September 20, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. (Rain Date 9-21) Legion Common, Hollis Street. More than 150 business, nonprofit and artisan booths and all kinds of amazing food, plus continuous entertainment. Free. Handicapped accessible.

Arts Nashoba presents Saturday Morning Animal Drawing for ages 8-11, for 8 sessions, beginning September 20, 10 a.m.- Noon, with instructor Marjorie Vaudreuil. For more information or to register online: www.artsnashoba.org

In the Area

Nighthawk Migration Survey, Saturday, September 6, 5:30 p.m. Join the Friends of the Oxbow NWR at Still River Depot Road in Harvard, MA for an evening observing the fascinating migration of the Common Nighthawk through the Nashua River valley. In the past years, when the weather and insects cooperated, flocks of as many as 100 birds were seen overhead. Rain date will be scheduled for the next day Sunday. For more information contact Rona Balco, President of Friends of Oxbow NWR, 978-779-2259 or Ada at ada.friendsoftheoxbownwr@gmail.com

As part of its In Thoreau’s Footsteps 2014 program, Freedom’s Way has planned a Walden to Wachusett Weekend, Saturday and Sunday, September 14 & 15. In conjunction with the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance and Hollis Historical Society a Hollis Open Barns Lecture and Tour, is set for Saturday, September 27, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. www.freedomsway.org

NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) will sponsor a workshop on “Sustainability for Massachusetts dairies: Grazing, raw milk, and organic certification”, Friday, September 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Sidehill Farm, 59 Forget Rd., Hawley MA. www.nofamass.org. Click on Events.

Middlesex Conservation District Fall Bulb and Perennial Sale will be held Friday September 19, 3-6 p.m. and Saturday September 20, 8 a.m.-noon at the 4H Fairgrounds, 51 South Chelmsford Rd in Westford. middlesexconservation.org

The Mass Great Outdoors Blog dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of Massachusetts’ natural resources can be found at http://blog.mass.gov/greatoutdoors/


Jul 302014
 
This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series A Swarm of Drumlins

Katydid on zinniaMary J. Metzger

Katydid on zinnia


Groton Farmer’s Market Fridays 3 p.m.-7 p.m. at the Williams Barn, 160 Chicopee Row. A variety of homegrown products plus these live musicians: August 1-Sarah Durkin, August 8-John Niemoller, August 15- Nancy Beaudette, August 22-Brian Weeks, August 29-John Niemoller.

Groton Local is hosting a food table at the above Groton Farmer’s Market to collect produce from home gardens and cash donations to purchase food from local farmers at the Market, to be taken to local food pantries. Anyone interested in volunteering to sit at the table can sign up by using Doodle https://doodle.com/eayycs4pis5unqgc (click on Table View and then click blue Save box at the far right before you close out), or contact Sally Hensley shensley@sprynet.com, Ph: 978-272-1210

Free Outdoor Music, Saturdays 6:00- 8 p.m. at the town gazebo behind the library, sponsored by the Main Street Café and the Groton Parks Commission (weather permitting).

August 2Patty Axford Trio An evening of jazz & folk favorites.

August 9 — Main Street Cafe’s open mic host GS Picard and friends Cooper & Kenneally, Marty

Nestor, Bob Pope: Mix of originals & covers, folk rock, and more.

August 16Soul Flyer Rock & blues for the soul.

August 23Elizabeth Lorre, The Rafters, and Back to the Garden: “Rockin’ Summer” mix of summer classics from the past 60 years.

August 30Snow Crow: Groton’s own “Earth Sol” music makes you feel good.

The Groundhogs PMC Express is a group of charity cyclists based in Groton who raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through their August 2nd & 3rd Pan-Mass Challenge ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown. Check out their Facebook page for donation information.

The Devens Regional Household Hazardous Products Collection Center is open to Groton residents Wednesday, August 6, and Saturday August 9, 9 a.m.- Noon. Proof of residency is required, and there is a charge for disposal. For more information www.devenshhw.com

Groton Conservation Trust monthly walk Wednesday, August 6, 6 p.m. at the Bates/Blackman conservation land on Old Ayer Road. One mile hike through fields, pines, and climb to summit of Indian Hill with views of Mount Wachusett and Monadnock. Parking available.

What to Do About CO2? (Grades 6-12), Thurs, August 7, 7-8 p.m. Global Climate Change Lab: Put your critical thinking skills to the test when Kate Anderson from Beyond Benign leads experiments and sparks ideas. Space is limited. Please sign up!  Groton Public Library

The Friends of the Groton Trails Network have scheduled trail maintenance projects for Saturday August 9, and Saturday, August 23, time and location TBD. To sign up for email notices contact gtc@grotontrails.org.  Check out their work on Groton Trails Network on Facebook.

Nashoba Paddler, 398 West Main St., Groton, is offering Full Moon Canoeing, Saturday, August 9, 7:30-10:30 p.m. and Bertozzi Wildlife Management Area Paddle, Saturday, August 23, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.  Registration is required. http://www.nashobapaddler.com/

Check out the new side garden at Groton Historical Society’s Boutwell House, 172 Main Street. Museum is open to visitors Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In the Area

Solar Empowerment Workshop, Saturday, August 2, 2 p.m.  Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge

Visitor Center at 680 Hudson Road, Sudbury, MA.   Learn how a solar panel system works, the optimal location for a system and the various financial avenues to get you there. To register contact  kizette_ortizvanger@fws.gov or 978-562-3527 x 117

Volunteers are needed for an American Eel Survey to be conducted August 4-8, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. on the Sudbury River to help determine baseline population data of this species in the Merrimack River watershed. Data will help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service evaluate effective management actions of this species, which is being considered for inclusion on the endangered species list.  Volunteers must be good swimmers, comfortable in small boats, able to haul 20 pound eel pots, and willing to handle eels.  Contact Libby Herland at 978-443-4661×11 or libby_herland@fws.gov.

The Caterpillar Lab in Keene, New Hampshire is open Mondays 12 p.m.- 5 p.m. and Thursdays 8. a.m.- 12 p.m. Talk to a caterpillar expert and get up close to many native caterpillars, cocoons, and moths. The lab facility is located upstairs in The Colony Mill building, 222 West Street above Elm City Brewery and down the hall from the Cheshire Children’s Museum.  Check out the 2014 Summer Season Schedule for other traveling events at their Facebook Page.

Squan-a-Tissit Chapter of Trout Unlimited will hold a River Cleanup, Sunday August 17. Evening Sun Fly Shop is coordinating the event with a cookout at the shop in East Pepperell afterward. Contact: Charlie Shadan 978-433-4910 or Charlie@eveningsunflyshop.com

As part of their Citizen Science program Mass Audubon is requesting reports of Chimney Swift Nest and Roost Sightings. No natural nesting sites were found for this species in the Breeding Bird Atlas 2 survey, they were all in chimneys. Monitoring and saving their nesting and roosting sites may be a key to slowing or stopping the rate of decline of North America’s only swift.www.massaudubon.org


Jun 302014
 
This entry is part 3 of 10 in the series A Swarm of Drumlins

Pond and Wood NettlesMary J. Metzger

Pond and Wood Nettles


The Devens Regional Household Hazardous Products Collection Center is open to Groton residents Wednesday, July 2, and Saturday July 5, 9 a.m.- Noon. Proof of residency is required, and there is a charge for disposal. For more information www.devenshhw.com

Groton Conservation Trust monthly walk Wednesday, July 2, 6 p.m. at the Bates/Blackman conservation land on Old Ayer Road. One mile hike through fields, pines, and climb to summit of Indian Hill with views of Mount Wachusett and Monadnock. Parking available.

FREE Outdoor Music, Saturdays 6:00- 8 p.m. at the town gazebo behind the library, sponsored by the Main Street Café and the Groton Parks Commission (weather permitting).

  • July 5JD West: Acoustic rock duo performing modern and classic rock.
  • July 12 — Original trio Trusting Fate. Imaginative rock, folk, bluegrass, roots & blues.
  • July 19 — Original Patty Keough & Some Guys from Space (Kenny Selcer, Michael Miller, Phil Punch)
  • July 26 — The Spy Tones: Original music in the style of the classic 60s surf bands.

 

Groton Farmer’s Market Fridays 3 p.m.-7 p.m. starting July 11 at the Williams Barn, 160 Chicopee Rd.

A variety of homegrown products plus these live musicians: July 11-Kenny Selcer, July 18 Howie Newman, July 25 Back to the Garden.

Nashua River Watershed Association offers these Day Camps.Wild World of Water Week for Ages 6-8 (July 8 thru July 11 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.)   All Things Animal for Ages 9-11 (July 14 thru July 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) Let’s Build It! for Ages 6-9 (July 28 thru July 31 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) www.nashuariverwatershed.org

Nashoba Paddler, 398 West Main St., Groton, is offering Full Moon Canoeing, Saturday, July 12, 7:30-10:30 p.m. and Family Paddling with Turtles, Saturday, July 26, 10 a.m.- 1 p.m.  Registration is required. http://www.nashobapaddler.com/

Groton  Historical Society’s Talk and Summer Ramble, Tuesday, July 15, 7 p.m. Archaeologist Marty Dudek will speak on Smoke-Out on Smoke Hill and More: Early Industry in Groton at the Boutwell House, 172 Main Street. After his talk, participants are invited to carpool to the Job Shattuck House for a tour of its early architectural details from its owner, and to enjoy Tom Callahan’s traditional and delicious homemade ice cream. Maps for individual rambling will be provided.

Fishing and Birding at pond next door to Groton Senior Center Thursdays, 9-3 pm courtesy of Groton Fire Department. Check in at Senior Center. Fishing license required but free to those 70+. For help with obtaining license online check with Stacy at the center.

The Squannacook River Runners offers member group runs Saturdays, 9 a.m. at Groton Town Forest, and Sundays, 8 a.m. from Groton Town Hall.  www.facebook.com/groups/sqrrgroton/

Groton Trails Committee has an extensive map of many of the trails in Groton that are on public land. www.grotontrails.org/Interactive_Maps.html

In the Area

Fruitlands Summer Concert Series .Thursday evenings on the hillside. Gates open at 5:30 for picnics, concerts begin at 7:15. This is an outdoor venue so bring a blanket or chairs. Handicapped seating is available under the tent. Well-behaved dogs are welcome at the concerts. July 3, American Salute, July 10, From Broadway to Hollywood and the Annual Picnic Contest — Bring the most elaborate picnic and win a prize!

  • July 3, American Salute
  • July 10, From Broadway to Hollywood -Annual Picnic Contest (Bring the most elaborate picnic and win a prize!)
  • July 17, Flying High: The anniversary of the moon landing
  • July 24, Summer Retrospective
  • July 31 The Love Dogs Come and dance to the energetic mix of jazz and jive.

Saturday, July 5, 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. The Trustees of Reservations is sponsoring Life on a Saltwater Farm:
Paine House Tours for 17th Century at Greenwood Farm in Ipswich. “Situated on the edge of the Great Marsh, the 1694 Paine House at Greenwood Farm is the site of 250 years of family farming. Local residents set up fish drying stages, pastured cattle communally, and harvested salt marsh hay. A tour through the Paine House will illuminate the unique features of this First Period structure, including an in situ dairy. Trails through the pastureland and the salt marsh are open to all daily, sunrise to sunset.” Information: 978-356-4351  EXT 4049

Full Moon Walk, Saturday, July 12, 7-9 p.m. Join naturalist Cherrie Corey for a sunset/full-moon rise walk through the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord. Meet at the information kiosk. Take Rte. 62 to Monsen Rd.  Follow Monsen Rd. and turn left into refuge driveway when road turns sharply right.  Follow refuge road to the parking lot at the end. $5 donation requested. http://sense-of-place-concord.blogspot.com/

Ayer Greenway Committee Summer Woods Walk and Rock Scramble,  Saturday, July 19, 9 a.m.-noon. Steve Smith will share geologic observations along the Habitat Trail to Porcupine Hill. Meet at the Groton Harvard Road Trailhead (near the Transfer Station). Families welcome, sturdy shoes recommended. 978-821-2916 for information.

Help MassWildlife Count Turkey Families! Sportsmen and — women, birders, landowners, and other wildlife enthusiasts are encouraged to assist the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) count turkey flocks only containing hens and their young poults (broods) this summer. DFW conducts an annual wild turkey brood survey from June through August. A turkey brood survey form has been posted on the agency website. www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/fish-wildlife-plants/turkey-brood-survey.html


Jun 262014
 

Members of the Groton Conservation Commission met representatives of the Groton Conservation Trust, the Groton Trails Committee, and about a dozen neighbors of the Baddacook Conservation Area last Friday, June 20, to discuss concerns with the post-timbering condition of the parcel and ways to remediate and move forward with a management plan.

The 36-acre Baddacook property lies between Martin Pond’s Road and Baddacook Pond, generally north of Route 40 east of Groton center. It is owned by the Groton Conservation Commission, but the Groton Conservation Trust owns the Conservation Restriction on the land. The property includes two distinct areas. One is an old field with an old barn foundation, apple trees, lilacs, and other plantings. The other is a timbered area that winds around several wetlands, vernal pools, and a portion of Baddacook Pond. It is prime turtle breeding habitat, including for the state-listed Blandings Turtle. It is also home to the blue-spotted salamander. It was the second area to be logged as part of the Commission’s sustainable forestry plan.






Timbering near these sensitive areas can be done only in the winter. Last winter’s heavy snow may have hindered some of the log and debris removal operations. The rutted and slash-strewn trails that appeared after snow melt are not conducive for walking in an area used daily by neighbors.

“With the snow cover, these trails looked pristine after timbering,” Takashi Tada, Groton’s Conservation Administrator, told the group.

Darcy Donald, one of the neighbors who has taken a lead role in working with the Conservation Commission, pointed out piles of some logs left in the woods, a high berm between the field and a vernal pool, and silt near a stream crossing. The neighborhood group has been stewards of the land, removing piles of trash and mowing the trail leading into the area.

Olin Lathrop of the Groton Trails Committee said, “All these logs will rot and make interesting soils and places for creatures to live.”

He pointed to a tree that had grown out of a pile of mossy nurse logs left over from the last logging operation over twenty years ago. He was also optimistic that the Trails Committee could come up with a plan to improve and even extend the trails. Unwanted ATV traffic is more problematic, but signs posting the areas as prohibited to motorized vehicles will be posted.

Logging and agricultural use have created a problem with invasive plants that will get worse because the winter’s logging has opened the forest canopy and let in more sunlight. Debris left in the field from past uses and logging, both recent and 20+ years ago, will require cleanup of the field before the land can be converted to a mowed pasture or whatever other use it is put to in the future. The consensus from Bay State Forester Eric Radlof and people at the meeting was that agricultural uses are probably limited to pasturing, not growing crops.

“Invasives will readily move into the more open forest, so a more targeted approach will be needed,” Conservation Commissioner Susan Black, who is also a forester, said.

Radlof, who evaluated the Conservation Commission’s properties for possible logging in 2011, recommended last month that a flail mower be used to knock down invasives and native shrubs which are returning as the field succeeds to forest. Even with herbicides, it may take 2-3 years to get the field ready for a possible agricultural use, he said. Other ideas discussed are the possibility of grazing goats on the property, and the possibility of installing turtle gardens.

Conservation Commissioners hope to evaluate their first sustainable forestry efforts and find ways to better communicate the process before and during timbering. Money received from the timbering will be used to manage conservation properties.

The cutting down of trees to make healthier forests seems counterintuitive, but sustainable forestry is at the heart of a recent report released by the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF), “New England Forests: The Path to Sustainability” www.newenglandforestry.org/images/forestry_report/Forestry_Vision_Final.pdf and an earlier study by the Harvest Forest, “Changes to the Land: Four Scenarios for the Future of the Massachusetts Landscape, http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/changes-to-the-land.

Mary Metzger is a member of the Groton Conservation Commission.


Jun 152014
 

Tom Wessels leading a walk through Gamlin Springs with members and friends of the Groton Conservation TrustSusan Hughes

Tom Wessels leading a walk through Gamlin Springs with members and friends of the Groton Conservation Trust

“The central New England transitional forest is diverse as it has over 140 woody species from both the northern boreal white and black spruce forests, and the temperate oak forests to the south, but it’s cultural history is one of sheep fever,” ecologist, professor, and author Tom Wessels told members and friends of the Groton Conservation Trust.

He explained how the woods can hide artifacts left from New England’s first large-scale market farming in a talk Saturday at the Groton School as part of the GCT’s 50th year anniversary celebration.

In 1810, Vermonter William Jarvis was able to smuggle 4,000 Merino sheep out of Spain during the fog of the Napoleonic War. These prized and embargoed animals had been developed for their prolific, fine, non-itchy wool. Two years later, during the War of 1812, tariffs were imposed on all imported British wool. Then the gradual development of power looms in New England’s new mill towns gave further incentive to New England farmers to begin clearing their forests so they could graze sheep. By the 1840s nearly 80% of the land had been deforested, Wessels said.

Wool import tariffs swung wildly and eventually, the price of wool dropped. The overgrazing of 5 million sheep had so eroded New England soils that in the 1840s half the people living in western Massachusetts and Vermont left for the more fertile land of Ohio.

Signs of that boom and bust agriculture can still be found in Groton’s and New England’s woods.

“The 125,000 miles of stone walls in New England were built in about 30 years,” Wessels stated. “There was no longer enough wood for fencing, and overgrazing had exposed the stones.”

The early Fence Warden was a powerful town position during sheep fever times. These officials walked the stone boundary lines and could level fines if walls did not meet a minimum height. They could also bring a transgressor to account for his lack of diligence before a Sunday congregation.

“Grazing sheep could devastate a grain field, so to keep the peace it was important to maintain the stone walls,” he said.

The forests of New England did return. The overgrazed pastures rebounded first with very low-growing nonnative basal rosette weeds that sheep could not get their teeth around. These were followed by nonnative coarse weeds, like thistles, then exotic berry-producing thorny shrubs, like the Multiflora Rose. Trees sprouted in these shrubs, beyond the mouth of grazers.

“If it is a diverse canopy, the area was overgrazed for a long time. One species stands are usually indicative of old hay fields, which were not grazed and also do not have the exposed stones.”

Wessels drew from a book he co-authored, Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England, when he talked about the weird apple trees he discovered early in his career. He found some of these bonsai trees to be over a hundred years old, left tiny by the constant grazing of sheep, but surviving. Most of these apple trees are now gone. Another iconic sign of the early pastures, large horizontal low-limbed pasture trees, will soon follow.

Following the talk, Wessels led a group through the Trust’s Gamlin Crystal Spring Conservation Area.

GCT spokeswoman Susan Hughes wrote in an email, “We took the pond loop on the Gamlin Crystal Springs property. Tom told stories about the varieties of trees found in the woods and challenged us to use our investigative thinking to tell their story. For example, ‘Why does the paper birch shed its bark so easily?’ To help shed lichens so the bark stays white to deflect the sun. ”

“He also helped us identify the previous use of the land. As he said in the talk, about 75% of all NE land was once pasture land. He was looking for a tree that could be dated back to the mid-1800’s to identify original forest land, not used for pasture. It was midway through the walk when we located the remnants of a stone wall, indicating pasture, and then just beyond was a huge, divided oak, with which he could date the right time! So the back half of the property had always been forest land, something we didn’t know about our property.

“Despite the demise of so many beautiful old-growth trees like the American Chestnut and the Elm, he did leave us on a positive note. He said these trees will make their comeback as they are developing resistant varieties now. And that we will be able to manage the many invasive species (not rid ourselves of them) but manage them in a way that our native species can thrive.”

Wessel’s talk was underwritten in part by a grant from the Groton Commissioners of Trusts Fund.