Friday, October 25, 2013

Volunteers with Skills

As the government shutdown reared its head earlier this month and AT volunteers were prohibited from accessing the AT (a unit of the National Park Service) to perform their normal volunteer duties, on a whim I extended an invitation to the CT and MA AT clubs asking whether anyone would be interested in helping me out at the Kellogg Center while we waited for the shutdown to end. ATC was in the middle of staining the larger barn (last done 20 years ago) and also had several other projects going on.  I received one response from a volunteer named Frank Morrison from Boston who informed me that he runs a painting crew and would like to come out and finish staining the barn if we were interested.  This was welcome news as we had completed the short east and west sides using rollers and scaffolding, but the soaring gable ends were still left to do with cooler weather coming quickly.  Frank and his associate Jamir came out and in about a day and a half finished up the job using a paint sprayer.  They also donated a large amount of stain as well as some other miscellaneous materials.  They completed in a short amount of time what would have taken myself and another ATC employee several weeks to finish because of interruptions, shifting priorities, weather, etc etc.   The barn looks excellent and is now protected from wear and weather for a while longer and the new stain nicely complements the new cedar roof and copper gutters.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Year of the Barns

This summer was a successful one at the Kellogg Conservation Center - AMC continues to base their southern New England operation out of the facility and hosted 16 weeks of teen trail crew and ridgerunners.  This is crucial work to managing and maintaining the AT in MA and CT and we are grateful for this partnership.  As the growing season kicked off and the AMC programs lept into full swing, we put more focus on maintaining the grounds, mowing, trimming, brush hogging, driveway maintenance, etc. thinking that it made more sense to postpone some other more involved projects until the quieter fall.  As such, we have not posted anything here in about three and a half months, so it is about time to update everyone on some of the work that has been going on here at the Kellogg Center.

As mentioned in an earlier post on this blog, this past winter ATC undertook to replace the siding and doors on the smaller "sheep" barn.  This project has meandered along and been mostly quiet this summer, but is 98% complete.  Lumber ran short in early summer and I decided that the project could sit until later in the fall when the last 3 doors would be built and installed in time for winter.

The next barn project, which has really been going on for a year and a half now if you count the pre-planning and fundraising stages, was to renovate the roof of the main barn.  This was a large project that required a roofing contractor, engineer, building permits, etc.  The impetus for this project was that the existing roof (asphalt) was failing and ATC was concerned that the irreplaceable chestnut timber-frame structure would be damaged.  I frequently observed shingles blow off of the barn in high winds, particularly in winter.  The structure gets full sun and wind exposure and takes a bit more of a beating from the elements being the tallest building on the property.  ATC has spent the last two years convening a group of staff, board members, and volunteers each quarter to discuss the future of the property and how to make it sustainable.  Out of that conversation we have identified the need to renovate the barn, in multiple phases, to serve as a more "public" space: a spot for events, meetings, and education.  The first phase we settled on is to insulate and replace the existing roof so that we would be able to eventually convert the structure to 4-season use.  This is a multi-year project that will require a significant capital investment by ATC.  

Interestingly, when Henderson Roofing began stripping shingles off they found that there were 6 layers: 1 layer of cedar shingle, 5 layers of asphalt.  That is 28,000 lbs on the roof!!  So the structure is undoubtedly breathing easier now.  ATC is in the process of applying to Historic New England to hold the Historic Preservation Restriction on all of the buildings here, so we asked them to render an opinion on which material was most suitable for the replacement given the age and history of the structure.  The choices were standing-seam metal, cedar, or asphalt shingles.  Standing-seam was our first choice for its longevity while asphalt was our last for the same reason.  We never really considered cedar until it was discovered to be the original covering.  As a result we decided that restoring the roof to its original covering made the most sense. Henderson Roofing replaced the degraded wood gutters with copper and also insulated the roof with 3 inch foam board.  The whole job start to finish took about 6 weeks.  


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Woods Forum 2013

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Great Barrington Trails and Greenways, Berkshire Natural Resources Council, and UMASS recently sponsored a Woods Forum at the Kellogg Conservation Center for community landowners who were seeking resources on how to best manage their property.  The event was well attended, with 35 landowners present as well as a number of professionals from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, MA DCR, Native Habitat Restoration, and private foresters.  Dave Kittredge, professor of Forestry at UMASS, was the facilitator.  The day began with a presentation by Dave to set the stage and then moved into Q&A discussion with the folks assembled.  A light, nutritious and delicious lunch was prepared by Christine Ward and then those that were able proceeded on a property walk to view some ongoing land stewardship efforts on the KCC property and continue our discussion in the field.  Thanks to all who showed up and made this a worthwhile and informative event.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Annual Volunteer Workday A Success!

ATC held it's annual Kellogg Conservation Center volunteer workday on Saturday April 2oth.  The day was dedicated to the memory of Frank Madeiros, a thru-hiker and passionate AT advocate.  A group of Frank's family members came out to help us work and did a fantastic job.  We were happy to be able to welcome them to the KCC on such a beautiful early spring day and their dedication and joy was buoyant.  This was the 6th year we have done this and I think I say this every year, but I truly do think this was one of the most productive annual workdays that we have held yet!  We had groups of volunteers as well as ATC and AMC staff, working on the following projects:

* Garden beautification
* Mulching and fertilizing our evergreen shelterbelt
* Junk removal out of the fields and hedgerows along the AT
* Yard and patio cleanup
* Well fork replacement
* Tree removal
* Waterline removal and storage
* Tool sharpening

The day was completed with a BBQ and a good time was had by all.  I love saying that.

Thank you to everyone who came out and helped us get the KCC looking nice for the summer season.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Day of Gracious Living

Last Wednesday, ATC hosted a group of teachers and students from Berkshire School as part of their annual Gracious Living Day.  This was a great group, very motivated, who helped us with 2 wildlife habitat improvement projects.  The group split in two with ATC's Land Protection Manager, Carlen Emanuel, taking the first group out to the east side of the KCC property to delineate the habitat range of the rare Jefferson salamander in a wetland area, and the second group was coordinated by ATC's Conservation Stewardship Manager, Adam Brown, undertaking apple tree release on the western side of the property.  We look forward to having Berkshire School come back again soon!

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Facelift for the Sheep Barn

This late winter/early spring ATC is working on replacing the siding on the smaller barn, called the Sheep Barn, at the KCC.  This is good timing for this project as it is occurring after the harshest part of winter has passed but before the onslaught of summer and all the busy-ness that time brings.

The sheep barn is a late 1700's timber frame structure that has had some work done to it to help preserve it over the past few years.  Despite those efforts, once the old siding was being removed it was discovered that there are some pretty serious issues with the sills on the south side of the building.  We will try to stabilize those as time and resources permit, but we will likely have to revisit these issues later with a more focused effort.  Below are some pictures of the progress thus far.  I will keep adding photos as we go along.

 A rotten beam tenon, which will be replaced