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Conservation News

A list of news items relating to Conservation



Soak up the Rain; Be Part of the Solution

Join your neighbors around New England who are taking action to soak up the rain. They're planting trees, rain gardens and green roofs; disconnecting and redirecting their downspouts; using rain barrels and drywells; and replacing their driveways and parking lots with permeable pavement. They're helping to soak up the rain and reduce the polluted runoff that flows to our streams, lakes, rivers and coastlines.

You can help soak up the rain.

Soak up the rain to help:

Prevent pollution of local waterways
Reduce flooding
Protect water resources
Beautify neighborhoods

A Call to Action

In collaboration with state agencies, universities, watershed groups, and other organizations, EPA New England has launched Soak up the Rain as a call to action to citizens, businesses, and communities. It's a call to all of us who care about clean water, who want to reduce flooding, who want to create healthier and more beautiful communities.

Take action to help soak up the rain in your yard, at your place of business, in your community.
Share photos and stories of what you have done.
Working together we can protect New England waters and leave a lasting legacy of clean, safe and plentiful water for future generations. We're counting on you.

How will you help soak up the rain?

Rain barrels collect water from a roof downspout and hold it for later use.

Downspouts are disconnected and/or redirected so water flows to where it will soak into the ground.

Rain gardens are shallow landscaped areas that collect and filter rain water.

Trees use water and make soils better able to soak up water.

Permeable pavements allow water to soak into the ground.

Dry wells collect runoff and allow it to gradually soak into the soil.

Green roofs have a layer of plant material that captures rain water.

Go to for more information on how to do each of these actions yourself.


Plant a Chestnut Orchard!

As you may know, the American Chestnut tree used to be a prolific provider of nourishment over the winter months, and the tree was found all over the Eastern seaboard. However, in 1904 a bark blight was introduced from Asia, which spread and destroyed almost all the trees. Now, once the tree grows enough to develop bark, the fungus girdles and topples it. The tree still lives with sprouts coming from around the trunk. For many years, dedicated organizations have been trying to breed blight-resistant trees.

The Mass/RI Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation and The CIty of Pittsfield plans to establish a chestnut seed orchard in Springside Park in Pittsfield. Pittsfield is the first municipality in MA to sign such an agreement with the American Chestnut Foundation (ACF). The city is looking for organizations who can bring volunteers to the initial effort, which will be on Sat., May 24th, 9AM to 4PM, lunch provided. The plan is to plant 12 of what will eventually be 20 plots with four rows of 40 chestnut nuts in each plot; so around 2000 nuts to be planted. The nuts to be planted are what they call B3F2, meaning that they are the 2nd intercross between chestnuts that are genetically 15/16ths american. They expect two or three of the resulting trees in each plot will be highly blight resistant. After about 10 years, one tree from each plot will be selected as the "pick of the litter" and the remaining 39 trees in each plot will be cut down. The remaining 20 trees (one from each plot) will be allowed to grow to maturity and the nuts will be harvested and used to reestablish the American Chestnut in our forests.

The goal of the American Chestnut Foundation is to restore the American chestnut tree to our eastern woodlands to benefit our environment, our wildlife, and our society. The American Chestnut Foundation is restoring a species - and in the process, creating a template for restoration of other tree and plant species.

In 2005, they harvested their first potentially blight-resistant chestnuts. They are now in a phase of rigorous testing and trial, in both forest and orchard settings. It is their confident expectation that they will one day restore the chestnut to our eastern forests. The return of the American chestnut to its former niche in the Appalachian hardwood forest ecosystem is a major restoration project that requires a multi-faceted effort involving 6,000 members & volunteers, research, sustained funding and most important, a sense of the past and a hope for the future.


Wildlife Tracking Workshop at Noble View postponed to 3/16

There are always amazing things happening in the outdoors, and all of them leave stories. Tracking is fun way to learn: it puts the QUEST back into question and the SEARCH back into research. Engage all the senses: touching the tracks, listening to birds and other woodland residents, and examining markings left behind on trees. Come hike with us as we gain a deeper understanding of the forest in winter and discover who is out and about at Noble View. Snowshoes required.
Leader, Frank Gindrod, is the founder of Earthwork Programs. Since 1999, he has dedicated himself to teaching earth skills such as nature awareness, tracking, wilderness living skills and earth philosophy. See

Bring a bag lunch and enjoy our 50 mile view at Noble View! Workshop from 1PM - 3PM.

To pre-register and for further information contact Gary Forish, 413-519-3251. For directions and info on upcoming events visit our website,


Never go hungry - food in your backyard!

Wild Edibles Foraging Workshop

We are fortunate in the Appalachian Mountain Club chapters to be able to apply for funds for Special Projects like trail work and conservation-oriented events. We recently received funds for a conservation workshop like this, foraging for wild edibles in the heart of the Hilltowns.

Earthworks Programs offer classes and workshops that are experiential and teach true sustainability… how to live with nature in a way that benefits us and our environment. This creates a natural balance in our lives. Some of the foundational skills include: fire making, natural cordage, animal tracking, wilderness living skills, wildcrafting, wild edibles and more.

AMC participants lucky enough to be able to attend came away with skills in correct identification of wild edibles and medicines you can find right outside your back door. We learned a bit about how and when to harvest by season and in what habitat to seek out our favorite wild edibles. Additionally, we learned how to harvest with intention; keeping in mind the importance of the responsibility we have as foragers and earth stewards.

We started out by learning about the wealth of plants in the “edges”, between forest and field, or next to the barn or shed. We found that we could eat thistle (known as survival celery), and Autumn Olive, two edible plants we normally consider invasive. Therefore, while we can eat them and perhaps make a delicious frappe from the red berries, we need to be careful not to let these plants spread.

Some of us were surprised to find that we could eat Burdock roots, which you can shred and eat like potatoes, and sumac berries for lemonade (early in the season). We trekked through the forest in search of ramps (wild garlic), and found a good patch of them to take home. We were helping to spread this good native plant, which seeds in clusters that fall while harvesting the delicious root.

After harvesting, we took turns at the hand-cranked apple press and pounded a mortar and pestle, which gave us some delicious apple and hickory nut juice. Frank Grindrod, our instructor, said at the end that it’s all about connection - with neighbors, people and animals.

We will be presenting a more detailed presentation about this at Noble View Outdoor Center later in the fall, and hope to bring Frank as well. He had also shared some animal tracking knowledge with us, and might be able to do more if there happens to be snow on the ground. Stay tuned!


Outsmart Invasive Species Project

This summer, individuals from UMass, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Nature Conservancy are collaborating on the Outsmart Invasive Species Project in an effort to stop the spread of non-native plants and insects that jeopardize the health of our environment. The Outsmart team, partnering with the Nature Conservancy's Don't Move Firewood program, will be visiting a number of music festivals, farmers' markets, and other events throughout the summer to conduct in-person training in invasive species identification. The Outsmart Invasive Species smartphone application helps users report invasive plant and insect species quickly and easily.

Invasive species pose serious environmental and economic threats to communities throughout Massachusetts. In Worcester in 2008, an outbreak of Asian longhorned beetle resulted in the destruction of nearly 30,000 trees, a loss that will take decades for the community to recoup. Last summer, the first adult emerald ash borer was found in Dalton, Massachusetts, and Berkshire County is currently defined as a quarantine area. Early detection and continual monitoring are key to stopping new invasive insect threats like the Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer, whether in a forest or an urban neighborhood, and the same is true for invasive plant species. This summer, the Outsmart Project is focusing on five such plants: glossy buckthorn, Japanese knotweed, multiflora rose, autumn olive, and invasive honeysuckles.

The good news is that anyone with a smartphone or a digital camera is ready to help. Join the Outsmart Invasive Species Project and help scientists cover more ground by looking for invasive species anytime - while walking the dog, hiking, fishing, gardening, or working outdoors.

If you have an iPhone or Android: Download the FREE Outsmart Invasive Species application through iTunes or Google Play, and you’ll be prepared to identify and report invasive species anytime. If you have already downloaded the application last year, we encourage you to update the application to take advantage of new functionality and identification training videos.

Stay up to date: Visit the Facebook page, follow Outsmart on Twitter @outsmartapp, and for regular updates, sign up for the Outsmart e-mail listserv. For more information, go to

You can also email the project team directly for more information:



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