Latest Updates (2020)

The closing on Gudell Hart property is now in the books and another 150+ acres along the North River in Heath has been permanently preserved. This could not have happened without the collective efforts of our MA/RI chapters. Well done!

See the press release from The Franklin Land Trust:

Gudell Aquisition Press Release FLT Letterhead

Background

In early 2015, the Council and chapters helped the Franklin Land Trust  (FLT) purchase and preserve the Crowningshield Conservation Area (CCA). This property includes approximately a mile of the West Branch of the North River. As part of the Memorandum of Understanding with Franklin Land Trust,  the Council has representation on the Advisory Committee for the property and the stream.

Bruce Osterling, a member of the Advisory Committee created to lend advice and oversight to the project,  kindly presented an update as of February 2016:

A lot has been accomplished in a short time since the celebration TU and FLT held on the property last April, and we are excited to report to you on it.

FLT and Council have established the Advisory Committee to lend advice and oversight. Committee members are:

  • Mike Cole, former President of the Deerfield River Watershed Council, environmental consultant
  • Scott Sylvester, Consulting Forester
  • Will Sloan Anderson, Committee chairman, FLT head land steward
  • Chris Jackson, Board member, Deerfield River Watershed Trout Unlimited
  • Bruce Osterling, Board member, GBTU and the land trust Sudbury Valley Trustees

All the Advisory Committee members have visited the property several times.

As hoped, following the TU Council donation, Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game donated $50,000 to help fund the purchase of the property.  They are now the responsible holder of the Conservation Restriction.  Baseline documentation has been completed.

FLT has been awarded a grant from Division of Conservation Resources to write a stewardship plan with Foresters for the Birds assessment.  That plan has been completed.  There will also be a Foresters for the Fish assessment and action plan.

FLT has been awarded a grant from Mass Division of Fish and Wildlife to do field restoration and invasive species control and develop a woods road that will give easy access to West Branch.  This work was started on February 8 and will continue until June.  Photo below.

Work is underway to remove the old barn beside the road and develop a parking area. All known hazardous material has been removed by a licensed contractor. FLT and the Deerfield TU chapter had a field day to remove 45 old tires and two truckloads of trash that had been dumped on the steep slope beside the road.

In early fall FLT purchased the 14 acre Desmond property abutting CCA just downstream.  This provides another 1000 feet of protection along West Branch north side.  There is a switchback dirt road down to the stream.  Greater Boston, Deerfield and Pioneer Valley chapters made donations to help with the acquisition.  This property will be managed as part of CCA.  Recently I grant for $10,000 was received from the Fields Pond Foundation to be used for property infrastructure—trails, gates, signage, etc.

FLT was invited to attend a workshop at the Silvio Conte Wildlife Refuge to discuss management and conservation of the headwaters of the Deerfield River.  Organizations represented in the meeting include:

Federal:   USGS (meeting host), USFW, NRCS, USFS,
State:        MA DEP, MA DFW, MA DCR, VT DEM
Other:      TU National, American Rivers, Nature Conservancy, VLT, DRWC, CRWC, FLT

Since the initial meeting, this group has decided to focus on the North River catchment, including doing mitigation, management and conservation within the North River. FLT’s CCA is the focus area for the group to look at developing and demonstrating the idea of Foresters for the Fish. This effort will include developing a tool kit for foresters and land owners to assess cold water fisheries habitat and develop management techniques. Management techniques covered will include:

  • management within the riparian zone for cover of cold ground water deposition
  • coarse woody material, deposition
  • bank stabilization
  • upland management for invertebrates
  • invasive species control

TU national and FLT have been awarded a grant from the Wildlife Conservation Society to develop Foresters for the Fish described above.

This coming summer we expect to put up an information kiosk near the stream. It will include:

  • name of the stream
  • name of the property
  • owner: Franklin Land Trust
  • date protected
  • supporters (need a good name) TU Council, MA F&G
  • Fishermen, please practice catch and release
  • All, please take out what you bring in

A map of the property will be created showing location, parking, and trails to stream.  We have discussed holding a member get together sometime in late summer to see the property and meet some of the fish.  If anyone is interested to help organize this, please contact Chris Jackson or Bruce Osterling.