Sunday, December 13, 2015

Fall Scenes at the KCC

Now that we have moved into "Stick Season", here is a little taste of this past autumn for you to look at while we await a blanket of snow (and change out of our shorts).  All photos were taken by ATC's Trail Management Assistant, Silvia Cassano, who spent a lot of her work and free time on the Kellogg Conservation Center property this year.

Halloween at the Kellogg Center

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Stargazing at the Kellogg Conservation Center

We hosted our first Stargazing program at the Kellogg Conservation Center.  The event was a week after the Lunar Eclipse, which was stellar in it's own right.  The lunar eclipse was coined a, "Super Blood Moon", and it won't happen again until 2033.

The evening of our stargazing program was hazy, and resulted in low turnout, despite doing local outreach and outreach to local a Trail to Every Classroom teachers, local schools, and libraries.  I have submitted a Cultural Council grant to assist with building and advertising for this program next year. Thank to those that came, and to those that helped spread the word.  A big Thank You to Sarah!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

2nd Annual Yoga Hike to Jug End Vista

This past Sunday we held our second successful yoga hike to the Jug End vista on the Appalachian Trail. We had 10 hikers and yogis, down from the original RVSP, however, it was the perfect size and we had stellar weather.  We started and ended the hike at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's Kellogg Conservation Center.  

The restorative yoga session was led by Tracy Remelius on the lawn of the Kellogg Conservation Center (KCC) in the area where a pool once existed.  In this spot, it allows for peaceful views of the west side of Jug End and the flank of Mt. Everett. The sun was warming, and the yoga was perfect for tired muscles.  Tracy also teaches yoga at a Trustees property in Tyringham, Ashintully if you are interested in taking a class with her.  She is thoughtful, has excellent cues, and makes all her participants feel comfortable.  If we did this event in summer, the pool gardens would be in full bloom.  Maybe next year!

A bit of history:
The other side of where the AT runs along Jug End is a property managed by Mass Parks and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife called, Jug End State Reservation and Wildlife Management Area.  It is within the Mount Washington State Forest management unit. It is comprised of 1,158 acres of land allowed to return to its natural state.  There is a loop trail system (MAP link), old foundations, and a recent local resident has been working with other volunteers to remove invasive Oriental bittersweet vine from the apple orchard there.  Look for volunteer dates advertised in the Shoppers' Guide, on the GB website.

During the 1930s-1985, the area on the other side of the Jug End ridge which the AT lies on, where the Jug End State Reservation is, was the Jug End Resort.  The unique history is in the link below.  At the bankruptcy of the Jug End Resort, residents of Egremont joined together to fight development in where the resort was in disrepair.  The Egremont Environmental Action group eventually become what is now the Egremont Land Trust.  Their efforts led to the success of the State purchasing this land.  

When we look toward the Housatonic Valley and across to East Mountain (where the AT ascends) what we don't see is the conservation corridor that lies behind us. What is out of our sight is this important parcel of land that expands the conservation corridor of the AT, and keeps a larger tract of land connected for wildlife habitat.  What a great asset we have here in the Egremont area.

Further Reading and Hiking Information for the Southern Taconics & Jug End:
Hiking Jug End State Reservation by Berkshire
AT Mapset and Guide for CT/MA   & just the mapset
Mt. Washington State Forest Trail Map
NY/NJ Trail Conference South Taconic Trails Map

Thanks to Tracy Remelius Yoga  for being our restorative yoga teacher again this year.  Her love for stewarding the outdoors and using nature to heal is a perfect fit for our programming here.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hazon Bike Tour Rest Stop

Over Labor Day Weekend, Hazon, an organization dedicated to creating a healthy and sustainable Jewish Community through environmental education.  They contacted us in the spring to see if they could utilize the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's Kellogg Conservation Center as a rest stop for their New York Ride & Retreat.  This fundraiser features a loop ride through the Berkshires and raises money for environmental projects at Jewish institutions, as well as supporting their organic farm at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center, in Falls Village.  The Appalachian Trail passes through Falls Village, and the original AT layout is now the Mohawk Trail, which is close to their retreat center.

We were happy to be able to help out and share our space and share our similar missions of inspiring change through environmental education.

Ride on!!

Photos: Morgan Sasser (@morgansasserphoto)

Hazon's Mission and Website   
We work to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community,
and a healthier and more sustainable world for all.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Evening Rumbles of Summer in the Berkshires

A few Saturday's ago, the clouds began to roll in. It appeared that a severe storm was eminent.  I closed all the windows and buckled down.  What happened instead was the thunder rolled and echoed all around the Kellogg Conservation Center, and lightning played across the Berkshire Hills to the East.  At one point there was lightning and a rainbow over the A.T. on the East side of Route 41 over Maggio's sheep farm.

If you haven't been here in the evenings, you are missing out. There are photos below and a video of the rolling and continual thunder that must have went on for 30 minutes like that.

Echinacea in evening light

Storm to the south

Monday, August 17, 2015

September A.T. Yoga Hike to Jug End Vista and Yoga at the Kellogg Conservation Center

Sunday, September 27st from 10 a.m. -2:30 p.m.
Appalachian Trail Yoga Hike to Jug End Vista

Click to enlarge

Have you ever dreamt of hiking the Appalachian Trail (A.T.)? Fuel your inspiration with a beautiful day hike with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Tracy Remelius Yoga. Hike the A.T. to the Jug End vista with Appalachian Trail Conservancy staff then soothe your tired muscles with an outdoor post-hike gentle restorative flow yoga class.
The hike will begin and end at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Kellogg Conservation Center (K.C.C.) at 62 Undermountain Road/Route 41 in South Egremont. Yoga will take place at the K.C.C. with Jug End as a backdrop.
The hike is 4 miles long and rated moderate to difficult, with views of the Berkshire and Litchfield Hills and North to Mt. Greylock. Bring at least 2 liters of water, lunch and snacks, sturdy footwear, and an extra layer. Trekking poles optional, but useful for the way back down. If you need a yoga mat, please let us know when you register.

Registration is required by emailing Silvia at or at (413) 528-8002. Event is by donation with proceeds to benefit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s programming at the Kellogg Conservation Center.
Your guides!

The mission of the ATC is 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.

Where: Kellogg Conservation Center. 62 Undermountain Rd., Rte. 41. South Egremont, MA 01258
(7/10 of a Mile South of the Village of South Egremont- big blue barn . If you cross the AT where it crosses 41, you went too far.).

Take Rt. 7 south from Great Barrington
Take 23/41 west towards South Egremont
Take Rt. 41 south (left turn after the post office)
The KCC is about 7/10 mi south of South Egremont on Rt. 41 on the right. If you cross the AT where it crosses 41, you went too far.


Take Rt. 7 north to Great Barrington
Take 23/41 west towards South Egremont
Take Rt. 41 south (left turn after the post office)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Double Rainbow

The existence of the rainbow depends on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes; to animals without cones, the rainbow does not exist
Trees Need Not Walk the Earth 
by David Rosenthal
Trees need not walk the earth 
For beauty or for bread; 
Beauty will come to them 
Where they stand. 
Here among the children of the sap
Is no pride of ancestry: 
A birch may wear no less the morning 
Than an oak. 
Here are no heirlooms 
Save those of loveliness,
In which each tree 
Is kingly in its heritage of grace. 
Here is but beauty’s wisdom 
In which all trees are wise. 
Trees need not walk the earth
For beauty or for bread; 
B.eauty will come to them 
In the rainbow— 
The sunlight— 
And the lilac-haunted rain;
And bread will come to them 
As beauty came: 
In the rainbow— 
In the sunlight— 
In the rain.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Raising the Roof

The Kellogg Conservation Center got a new roof earlier this summer.  The existing asphalt shingles had deteriorated and were growing moss, and the gutters were regularly failing.  Since these two features have to be in good working order to protect the historic 1744 structure, ATC decided to invest in a new cedar shingle roof and copper gutters.  Due to a Historic Preservation Restriction on the buildings, we are limited to the type of roof coverings we can install.  Our options are to either replace with existing materials (asphalt) or install red cedar shingles. While this is a big-ticket item, we hope that the pressure-treated cedar will last considerably longer than replacing with asphalt.  Plus it looks really sharp!  The roof on the house now matches the barn roof, which was re-done in 2013.  While some of the outbuildings still have asphalt shingles, gradually we will replace those with cedar as well. The entire project took approximately 2 months from start to finish and our partners at Historic New England were very helpful with advice when planning the project.
Before, south side

Before, north side

Ice and Water shield is on, first courses of shingles started on west side of ATC offices

Soldering the copper gutters

Cedar roof and copper gutters on the ATC office

Front part of the 1744 house, with barn in background

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Evening Bird Ramble with Great Barrington Trails and Greenways

Field season is in full swing and many birds have come and gone since May.  The Kellogg Conservation Center hosted an Evening Bird Ramble program in May in partnership with our friends from the Great Barrington Trails and Greenways, a project of the GB Land Conservancy.  

Our local experts and Appalachian Trail supporters and volunteers, the Wards, were of great help.  A fellow-birder and A.T. partner from Mass Parks/Mass DCR and his wife also attended and were great resources.  Other area birders also attended.  With such great knowledge and birding habitat at our fingertips, the newcomers to birding had a lot of guidance.
Warming up the binos

We at the Applachian Trail Conservancy's Kellogg Conservation Center are lucky to have an abundance of habitat zones for birds. We have yard, field, field edge, and forest cover, and a small wet meadow area. We started around the Kellogg Center yard with the Tree and Barn Swallows, and the common Robin, Goldfinch, Bluebirds, and sparrows.  Some in the group were lucky enough to see the Scarlet Tanager fly overhead.  As we walked the field edge habitat we were able to hear and observe several Bobolinks and the Red Eyed Vireo. As we approached the wet meadow we heard the Common Yellowthroat Warbler, and Goldfinch. 

Then walking on a mowed path toward the AT, we were treated to Bobolinks again, as well as Cedar Waxwings, Song Sparrows, and an Eastern Kingbird.

On the AT

Those that work for the ATC and AMC that went on the birdwalk were very excited to learn about all the species of birds that they may hear or see while walking the property in the future.  Attendees requested more bird walks, which we hope to host more in the future. 

Final species list circle

Thursday, July 9, 2015

1744 Homestead Tour

We recently had a family contact the Kellogg Conservation Center to schedule a tour of the historic homestead, which was built in 1744.  The family has some members that still live in the Great Barrington area.  About 20 family members from the area and beyond arrived on a recent Saturday morning for a tour.

It was very interesting to see eyes of those that spent lots of time here share their memories with those that didn't. We learned a lot of past history about certain parts of the house, barn, outbuildings and property.  

Ownership History: 
The Bacon family owned the property in 1790, and it was passed down through the women to the Warner's where it stayed until the mid 1960s as a Warner-Potts family property before it was sold to the next owners, the McGoldricks, before it was sold to Mary Margaret Kellogg.

Fun facts learned: 
-There was an outhouse between the rear barn (our current office) and the house, which wasn't an adjoined buliding.
- A lightening fireball went through the kitchen, living room, and exited through the open screen door where the well and former driveway once were.  A grandson was sitting in the living room when it happened.
-Lightening also struck the top rafter in the blue barn near a light fixture.  It traveled across the roof, down the wall following the electrical line, and to the milking parlor where one cow, sadly died (standing in liquid). You can see the scar on the beam.
-The hay stored in the barn was all loose hay, and we still have parts of the pulley system there and the system was explained in detail to them.
-The woodbox for the fireplace is intact and in our blue barn.
-The property was very windy and snow often drifted above the kitchen and pantry windows.  Both the kitchen and pantry were in the same spot, but had a different layout.
-You could see to Warner Road and across Route 41 for a long ways as there were not lots of trees.
-The current downstairs bathroom and bedroom were part of the milking, laundry, and farming storage area.
-They sold gas and farm goods along the side of the road in an outbuilding.
-The upstairs backrooms/hall were closed off in summer (too hot, and no insulation), and generally the upstairs wasn't used as much in winter as it was too hard to heat. 
-The parlor on the south side of the house was also closed off in winter (too hard to heat), but was opened for Christmas gatherings, where a fire, tree, and all the family would cram into the room and complain of how hot it was that one day.
-There is a brick oven in the wall next to the living room/kitchen fireplace.  The cookstove was in front of it.  The basement had a wood heat boiler.
-There was porch along the front of the house.
-Members of the family helped out around the farm, but often worked at their other grandparent's farm nearby.
-They recall the pond on the west side of the property being an actual pond, which is is not anymore.
-The upstairs south-facing bedroom was divided in half and the boys slept on one side, and other family members slept in the other.  The back hall/steep staircase was off-limits to kids and often closed as it wasn't insulated.
-Grandma Warner old got mad twice (once was when the grandaughter fell into Smiley's Pond, which is down the street).

Friday, June 12, 2015

Plein Air Afternoon

On a sunny, late afternoon day, a couple from Great Barrington stopped by the Kellogg Conservation Center (KCC) after everyone but Silvia (myself) was gone.  They asked if it was okay if they painted the barn. 
My first response in a joking manner was, "well we just painted it two years ago, but if the bright blue really offends you then go ahead".  They were delightful to talk to, and I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon.  Someday soon, I hope to sit and paint too.  I invited them to come back and paint again soon.  Perhaps a Jug End sunset is next.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Egremont Walks" on the A.T.

The month of May the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the Egremont Council on Aging begin hosting a series of short hikes along the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in the Egremont area.  The Egremont Walks are part of the State of Massachusetts, Keep Moving program to keep seniors active and fit.  The ATC's Kellogg Conservation Center (KCC) staff also led hikes for this program in 2012. 

So far this year we've hiked the A.T. south from the KCC to Jug End Road (2 miles round trip), from KCC north toward Shay's Rebellion Monument, and from Shay's Rebellion Monument north.  Although we haven't completed all of these sections, we will continue these hikes later in the summer.  The goal of picking the terrain is to have a hike that accommodates everyone's physical interests and time frame.  Luckily in the valley we have terrain that works for most folks, with the exception of some tricky puncheon spots.

This past week, a participant brought her grandson, who was able to get out of school to spend time with his family, and hike the A.T. in South Egremont for the first time. He even knew about the Cornell ornithology website (impressive).

Hiking North from Shays's Rebellion

Initially the walks along the A.T. were a way to prepare Egremont senior for their inter-generational "Go The Distance" event held June 1.  This event is a statewide walk-a-thon that helps promote healthy communities.  It however is also a great hour and a half to share stories, and learn about nature together. We've been doing a fair share of beginner birding and plant identification each walk as well.  What a great time! 

We at the ATC's Kellogg Conservation Center are happy to help keep people outside, and exploring their backyards, which so happen to include a National Scenic Trail !  

The woods south of the Kellogg Center

Thursday, April 23, 2015

8th Annual Workday and Michael L. Marziale Dedication

Spring is a wonderful time to celebrate new beginnings and to get everyone excited about the upcoming trail season. Earth Day and Arbor Day also fall in April, which makes it a great month for The Appalachian Trail Conservancy's Kellogg Conservation Center Annual Volunteer Work Day.

The 8th Annual Volunteer Work Day at the Kellogg Conservation Center (KCC) on Saturday, April 18.  It was sunny and moderate temperatures made the work go by, while the wind held off most of the day. We had 30 volunteers helping for the whole day and 5 ATC staff members, making it a total of 35 busy bees working on our projects around the KCC.  We welcomed many regional Appalachian Trail partners (Mass DCR, AMC, the Berkshire AMC, CT AMC, the ATC Stewardship Council, KCC Working Group members), Berkshire School students and staff,  and some ATC staff even traveled up in their free time with their family for a mini-vacation in the Berkshires. We also welcomed those who knew Michael L. Marziale, a well-respected former member of the ATC Board of Directors. The sun was shining and everyone was eager to pitch in.

We had some big garden projects to tackle on the south side of the barn as well as the western garden along the stone wall and lawn where the pool used to be. There the ground had to be completely turned up and sod removed.  Compost was added to the soil to support the new native plants that were planted. There were many other gardening and mulching projects.  Volunteers helped chip all the limbs fallen from storms or left after the tree pruning workshop. Many Berkshire School students and staff raked the northern lawn-a big feat. Native winterberry shrubs were planted to provide extra food sources for birds. Paint was scraped off the south side of the historic house in preparation for painting and storm windows were removed. Picnic tables were painted, as well as the interior of an old outbuilding. Bed frames for AMC seasonal staff. Reconfiguring the tent platforms will have to wait until another day. Lastly, the patio furniture was brought out of the barn out so we could enjoy the catered meal at the end of the work day.

Thankfully, the many hands accomplished much work before more ATC friends, board members, and affiliates shared the afternoon with us in memory of Michael L. Marziale.  Michael was an ATC board member who passed in 2011 and was important in orchestrating the Tree As A Crop™ project at the KCC. Read about this project here or read the former press release if you are unfamiliar. Michael’s enthusiasm toward the mission of the ATC and the Trail shone through as members of the ATC board and Michael’s family spoke during the dedication of a handmade bench and memorial stone.  We even had the pleasure of enjoying something else Michael loved, chocolate chip cookies.  As his son Michael said, his father believed they were “the food of the gods”.  


 Thank you to everyone for your hard work and time! We truly could not have got all that work done in one day without you.  Volunteers make it happen!

Special Thanks to: Ward’s Nursery in Great Barrington
Food by: Nagi’s Mediterranean Cuisine in Great Barrington