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Conservation News

A list of news items relating to Conservation


Conservation News

Local Conservation Initiatives

Today's Most Urgent Conservation Issue

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is the most important source of funding for conservation land acquisition in the nation. This 52-year old Federal program, funded with the proceeds from offshore leases, has provided billions of dollars for expanding and improving access to wild and recreational lands around the country, including many millions of dollars in Massachusetts. However the LWCF will expire at the end of the month if it is not reauthorized.

This program has broad support in Congress. The LWCF was funded at over $400M this past year, and the legislation reauthorizing the fund will almost certainly pass if brought to a vote. It  recently was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee. What is important now is that it not be forgotten in the tumult over other issues.  The LWCF needs champions to bring it to a vote. Because it has bipartisan support, Senators and Representatives from both political parties should be encouraged to vote for reauthorization.

Please urge your federal legislators to make renewal of the LWCF a top priority. Here are some actions you can take today:

For more information, check out:

Page last updated 23 September 2018
Page Steward: [email protected]


Report of 2017 AMC Berkshire Chapter Activities

Conservation—Robert Cherdack—[email protected]

The Chapter Conservation Committee has been reinstituted with the following goals: 

1) Supporting the club in its conservation campaigns.

2) Identifying and responding to local issues within western Massachusetts.

3) Encouraging conservation work such as cleanups and invasive controls within chapter activities.

Our efforts can include learning more about the club wide campaigns and disseminating this information to chapter members. It could also include getting information about our campaigns out to local media, and making contact with local political leaders and political bodies.

Identifying issues might require canvassing towns about development, looking into Federal Energy Regulatory Commission filings (FERC) filings, and contacting state regulators.

I welcome suggestions. If you are interested in being part of our chapter Conservation Committee email Robert Cherdack at: [email protected].


AT Trails—Jim Pelletier—[email protected]

Our volunteers had more fun in the woods this year than every before!  Over 260 volunteers chipped in some 7,700 hours of fun. In addition to our usual trail work we had fun with "work" on: overnight sites, natural heritage and conservation efforts, corridor monitoring, and overnight site and Upper Goose Pond caretaking. 

Less fun, but important, we got to work on our Local Management Plan that is much in need of an update. 

It’s been a great year for our piece of the AT (approx. 90 miles in MA) and our volunteers.  Many thanks to all who contributed.


Bicycling—Brant Cheikes—[email protected] 

This committee launched in 2017 with one official trip leader, added a second in March, and ran two group rides in May and June. The Committee is planning a schedule of monthly rides in 2018, starting in May and running through October.

Young Members—Nicole [email protected]

The Young Members Committee invites people in their 20s & 30s as well as the young-at-heart to attend our activities. We offer hikes at least once per month. We had a recent hike at Mt. Monadnock. Other hikes included D.A.R. State Forest, Mt. Race, and Mt. Tom.

Typically we follow our hikes with an option to stop at a nearby restaurant, bar, brewery, winery, creamery, marketplace for picnic food, swimming hole, or a community event.


Family Programs— Margo Chapski—[email protected]

Family Programs has been active this past year with trips, activities and trainings. We collaborate with other AMC chapters to create an engaging array of opportunities for families.

Some of our outings this year: Indoor Rock Climbing at the Rock Gym in S. Hadley (January); 2 Winter Weekends at Noble View; Snow Shoeing & Animal Tracking with Jim Pellitier; Spring Fling Cabin Weekend at Noble View; Barton Cove Camping & Paddling Weekend (July); Scavenger Hunt and hiking at the Outdoor Festival; Paddling Day in Vermont on the CT River (October).

Our leaders have been continuing their training and education and we look forward to more programs in 2018.


NET Chair—Heather Wyman— [email protected]

After the sudden passing of long-standing NET Chair Pat Fletcher and addition of new recruit Bridget Likely to fill the AMC NET staff position, there was a lot of reorganization to do this past year.

We worked to come up with a curriculum and budget that allows us to do one major project every month during good weather. We had regular meetings with lots of input, and now have new road crossing signs at almost every major intersection. NET Trail markers have been ordered and every section of the New England Trail has an adopted volunteer.

We have over 1000 hours of volunteer time logged this year and look forward to scheduling some great projects for next year.


Jim Van Natta—Mountaineering Committee Chair— [email protected]

We have rock climbing and related events planned throughout the entire year. 
Winter: From November through March we are climbing in the gym on Wednesday nights. 
We occasionally rock climb outside on warm and sunny days. We throw in cross-country and alpine skiing and even an assent of Mount Monadnock. We also get out of town and climb in other gyms from Albany to Boston. 
Spring: We start our outdoor season with a weekend trip to rock climb in the Gunks in late March. Wednesday evening climbing starts May 1 and continues through until Labor Day. We review our skills at an annual class and offer three trainings from beginner to intermediate levels. We offer local climbing daytrips several times a month. 
Summer: We generally have one weekend climbing trip away each month. Our Wednesday evening climbs continue. Day trips to local crags are on going. 
Fall: Yes, more climbing! We have fall trips to the Gunks once a month, and day events at local crags. 
Leader Training: We are in high gear! Eleven members of the Committee attended the March Leader Training and others followed in May. We currently have six people working on Trip Leader Qualification and two approved as new Leaders. Congrats!
Wow, busy year!!


Social/Membership—Bess Dillman-- [email protected]

We have had three well-attended potluck dinners with speakers this year, two in Northampton and one in Lee.

In August we held the Second Annual Outdoor Festival at Noble View Outdoor Center. About 120 attended and participated in hikes, a scavenger hunt and camping skills workshops. They enjoyed music and a BBQ lunch and listened to a presentation on Snakes by Tom Tyning.

The annual meeting last year featured a presentation by Mt. Everest Climber, Ed Webster.


Outings/Hiking—Kathy Martin— [email protected]

It has been a very busy first year as Outings Chair! We have had 52 Tuesday hikes, 50 general day hikes and 7 backpack trips. 

We co-led many hikes with Connecticut and Worcester Leaders, and provided hikes through our Family and Young Members Programs making it difficult to know exactly how many hikes we have actually had! 

Currently we have 60 individuals listed as Berkshire Chapter Hike Leaders and a subset of 23 Leaders in the Tuesday Hiking Group. Several Leaders led hike series over the year: Bess Dillman led the AT hike series; Jan Nettler led two hike series—River Hikes and Easy Hikes in Northampton; Joe Gelinas and Roxanne Suprina led a beginning hiking series in the Berkshires.

Jan Nettler will be acknowledged at our Annual Meeting as the MVP Hike Leader of 2017. Thanks to all! 

Congratulations to our new hike leaders:  Mike April, Nicole Dewberry, Dee Dice, Kathy Martin and Roxanne Suprina. Currently we have the following individuals in our Hike Leader program: Deena Gilbert, Patricia Watson, Greg Wolf, Diane Jones, Charles Edson, Kari Amick, Buchie Green and Fred Riotte.  I hope we will be honoring these individuals as new Leaders at our next annual meeting. 

I have attended and/or assisted in three two-day Leader Trainings and spent two weekends in training to be a leader trainer. I plan to continue my training by attending both Boston’s and New Hampshire’s Leader Training. 

In spring of 2018, we will be hosting for the first time in several years Berkshire-sponsored Leader Training. 

I want to thank Chris Fogarty and Debora Herlihy of the Worcester Chapter for helping us with co-training between the two chapters. A huge thanks you to Chris, Deb and the other Worcester folks!

Looking forward to next year, I hope we can see our Leaders-In-Training (LIT) become fully qualified while attracting new LITs. I hope we can increase our hike offerings and develop new hiking series. I would also like to have more training offerings such as first aid and hiking skills. 


Training & Education—Bill Fogel— [email protected]
The Training and Education Committee had a very productive year. It began with a vacant chair position and no committee. In January a subcommittee of the executive committee was created to address training and education issues in the Chapter. 

In response to Activity Committee requests, and in particular the work of Jim Van Natta, Kathy Martin, Margo Chapski and Deborah Cohen of the Mountaineering Committee, we held our first Berkshire Chapter Leadership Training in several years at Noble View. Supported by the staff of Worcester Chapter leadership training team (big thanks to Christine Fogarty and Deborah Herlihy), and financially by Berkshire Chapter’s Executive Committee (big thanks to Jan Nettler!), 30 people participated in the two-day training of which 22 were Berkshire Chapter members. An additional 4 Berkshire Chapter members participated in the Worcester Leadership training bring the grand total to 26 Berkshire Chapter members trained in Outdoor Leadership. 

In August, the Executive-Committee as acting chair voted Bill Fogel in. A Training and Education Committee was formed which included Jim Van Natta, Kathy Martin, and Margo Chapski, Rob Robertson and Marvin Davenport.

Eight Berkshire members attended the Center for Outdoor Learning and Leadership’s two-day seminar on “Train the Trainer.” These eight members will serve as the core instructors for next year’s Berkshire Leadership Training. 

All in all a "rising-from-the-ashes" year for Training and Education!


Officers & Committee Chairs—Slate for 2018

Chair: Martin Mahoney
  Vice-chair: vacant
  Secretary: Roger Beer
  Treasurer: Tricia O'Neil Hanrahan

Committee Chairs:
  Appalachian Trail: Jim Pelletier
  Berkshire Exchange: Nate Szymanski
  Bicycling co-chairs: Brant Cheikes, Janine Papesh
  Conservation: Robert Cherdack
  Family Programs: Margo Chapski
  Membership/Social: Bess Dillman
  Mountaineering Co-chairs: Marvin Davenport, Jim Van Natta
  New England Trail Co-chairs: Heather Wyman, Dana Gronbeck
  Outings/Hiking: Kathy Martin
  Paddling: Charles Murray
  Training and Education: Bill Fogel
  Webmaster: Evan Yeadon
  Young Members: Nicole Dewberry

Vacant, seeking nominees:
  Communications Coordinator
  Nominating Committee Chair

Many thanks to our outgoing Chair Jan Nettler who has helped revitalize our chapter and infused energy and liveliness into the Executive Committee members who do so much work to make the chapter so vigorous.

Thanks to our Newsletter Editor and Webmaster. And, of course, thanks to all the volunteers that make our chapter so active and vibrant!

Speak to any of our Officers or Committee Chairs. We’re always looking for new volunteers!


Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and Clean Power Plan Initiatives

Conservation is one of three important pillars at the AMC, next to recreation and education. The AMC is involved in a number of conservation initiatives from DC to Maine. Two pressing conservation initiatives for the AMC involve land conservation and clean air. Read more about these issues below and find out how you can get involved.

For fifty years the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has been the country's principal source of federal funds for public land acquisition. It has supplied billions of dollars for national and state parks and other public lands as well as for park infrastructure, including a $100 million for Massachusetts. The fund was originally established in 1965 but is set to expire in September 2018. It is vital for conservation of critical natural resources that our legislators become champions for its permanent renewal. For more information see    and 

The Trump administration proposes eliminating the Clean Power Plan, which was put in place in 2015 to reduce emissions of greenhouse and other pollutants from power plants.  The comment period for this change in  EPA regulations ends on 12/15/17.  Comments are needed in support of keeping the Plan in place.  See  and 


Tom Wessels to Speak at Annual Meeting

Photo of Tom Wessels

On Saturday, November 7, at 5:30pm, the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club will hold it’s annual dinner meeting at the Summit View House in Holyoke.

We are excited to announce that the speaker will be Tom Wessels, ecologist, educator and author. His books include: Reading the Forested Landscape, The Granite Landscape, Untamed Vermont, The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future, and Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to reading the Forested Landscape. His focus will be on Reading the Forested Landscape. His books will be available for purchase and signing.

The evening will also include the annual business meeting. More information on the dinner price and where to RSVP will be forthcoming.

Please save the date and plan to attend!

Warner Pond

Warner Pond, just a few yards off Route 47 and bordered by Warner Hill and North Hadley farmlands, was a relaxing two-plus hour paddle last Saturday under a sun and puffy cloud blue sky. Swans with their cygnets, painted turtles, and a maze of blossoming Pond and Swamp Dock Lilies greeted us as we slowly meandered past a shoreline teaming with the signs and sounds of plant and animal life.

On our arrival, the Friends of Mt. Warner were launching their Annual Invasive Species Water Chestnut Pull. A couple of us joined in but it was a challenge to do from a kayak. Want to lend a hand? Contact Cynthia at [email protected] or call 413-548-8002.

Great news about Warner’s dam restoration: Kestrel Land trust of Amherst announced that a generous donor is offering $25,000 dollars in support for Warner's dam restoration – if $25,000 dollars in matching donations can be raised. This is a wonderful opportunity to double your contribution. For more information please contact Kristin DeBoer, Executive Director, Kestrel Land Trust, 413-549-1097. ( Excerpts for the last two paragraphs from The Friends Facebook Site. )

We topped off our morning with noon hour freshly made sandwiches at the North Hadley Sugar Shack, just down the road. Their Maple Soft Serve is whipped up with maple syrup. Having shared a large, I was tempted to have another for the road home.

-Elbert Bowler



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