Thursday, December 27, 2012

Old Man Winter Shows His Face

Winter finally comes to south Berkshire County!  The Kellogg Center driveway got its first plowing of the year (it never even got plowed last year!) and the coating of white and colder temps are much welcome after last week's deluge.  At one point during that rain event, I looked out my window to see a muddy river flowing down the gravel drive as the dirt double-track next to the garage reached its saturation point and began to erode.  I quickly put down some hay bales which slowed the flow a little, but that will need some attention next spring to shore it up a bit.  That type of thing usually happens here in early spring as it begins to rain on top of the receding snow pack, not during the 3rd week of December.

Why, gentle reader, do I celebrate snow when most folks at the grocery checkout grumble that it has disrupted their lives, causing them no end of anguish due to shoveling slippery walks, bad driving conditions, etc etc?  Well, besides the obvious (it's fun to play in), a healthy snowpack serves several ecological functions:  it prevents/minimizes drought during spring, various animals rely on snow for protection by creating burrows where they can rest and be protected from the wind, it insulates the ground which is crucial for plant roots and animals such as deer, chipmunks, squirrels, mice, etc.  There is even an Inuit word for the thin layer of snow in which small burrowing mammals spend the winter: pukak.  Try using that in a sentence at the grocery checkout and see what kind of looks you get...

Besides the ecological boon, it is also good for the local economy: if it snows then plow guys make money, tourists come to ski and spend money in restaurants, stores, and hotels, and the economic benefits ripple out from there.  If you don't like it, move to the sunbelt!

Below is a picture from today of the sheep barn at the KCC - my project this winter and spring is to re-side this structure in order to be able to use it for tool and equipment storage in the future.  More on that as it happens.  Stay warm and dry out there and drive safely!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stump Grinding and Surveying

A busy day here at the KCC on Tuesday, December 11th.  ATC is working with Al Thorp of Accord Engineering and Surveying, LLC of Great Barrington, MA to conduct a topographical survey of the parcels including the house and barns as well as the field areas on either side.  This type of survey generates a lot of useful and highly detailed info about the topography, location of structures and roads, types of vegetation, underground utilities, etc that will be used in our planning phases for increasing parking capacity on site as well as barn renovations.  Al was kind enough to let me tote the prism pole around while he took measurements from various points.  Here are a few photos of Al in action.

While Al and I were conducting the survey, Mike King of Berkshire Stump Grinding was working on turning two giant stumps (one 48" diameter, one 52" diameter), left behind from a pair of lightning-struck willows that were removed back in August, into piles of mulch.  We try to utilize everything we can here, so this mulch will likely go into rehabbing and beautifying the flower beds around the house.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Arrival!

ATC just purchased a brand-spankin' new Kubota L3800 tractor and implements from Townline Equipment in Plainfield, NH to help maintain the Kellogg Center property as well as address larger open areas on the AT in southern New England that are in need of regular brush hogging to retain the pastoral setting of the trail.  Now all I need is my straw hat....

ATC is also in need of a truck/trailer to haul the tractor to these open areas.  If you know of anyone who would be interested in donating these items in good, used condition, please contact Adam Brown, ATC Conservation Resources Mgr. at the KCC:  413-528-8002 or
Any over-the-road equipment must be able to be registered and inspected in Massachusetts. All donations are tax-deductible!

I meant to post this with the initial post but did not - follow the link to read about ATC's land stewardship efforts on the property over the past 2 years:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Welcome To The Kellogg Conservation Center

Located on Rt. 41 in South Egremont, Massachusetts, among the Berkshire Hills, the KCC is the regional office for ATC in New England and also the office of the Appalachian Mountain Club's Berkshire Trails Program.

The 99-acre property, which abuts the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, was donated to ATC in 2004 by Mary Margaret Kellogg for "educational, historic preservation, recreational, agricultural and conservation activities".  The front part of the building that includes the original house, dates back to 1744 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The property is actively managed to fulfill Mary Margaret's vision and ATC's mission to "preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail - ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come".

ATC first occupied the space as an office in May of 2007 and since then has been working steadily to promote the property among AT members and volunteers as well as regional and local conservation groups.  The KCC has been an integral part of AT management, has served as a forum for educating and training our volunteers in chainsaw safety, wilderness first aid, Leave No Trace, and rare plant monitoring protocols, has been the host site for an oxen logging demonstration and a community wellness hike, and is undergoing active agricultural and forest management.

This blog will serve as a way for ATC to update goings-on to the AT constituency, the online world, partners and friends so please check back on a regular basis throughout all seasons for updates and photos.

For now check out this link from the most recent issue of our membership magazine, AT Journeys, that highlights some of the community involvement related to the KCC in 2012: