Friday, October 28, 2016

Early snow and charismatic megafauna!

Yesterday the southern Berkshires received an early dose of winter, anywhere from 1-4" depending on elevation.  Here at the Kellogg Center, fairly low in elevation, the snow was enough to set off the remaining fall foliage.  It is rare that we get a nor'easter that brings snow in October, and of course it was short-lived as sleet, rain and slightly warmer temps came in behind and began to rapidly melt it away.

               

















This morning as I was coming in to work, a movement across the street caught my eye - it was a REALLY large bird soaring over the property.  It took me a minute to realize it was a bald eagle!  I watched it for a moment as it landed in the field and then was harassed by some crows and lit in a tree above the house.  After taking a few photos I looked across the street to find a road-killed deer which had attracted the majestic bird.  Interestingly, it looked like the deer had been dragged by coyotes from the edge of the road out into the field.  Passing motorists had no idea what was going on just outside their window!  Very cool!










Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mowing Project Surprises!

When most people think of the Appalachian Trail, they probably think of the famed "green tunnel" phenomenon. Once the leaves come in in the spring, the forested footpath can seem never ending, punctuated only occasionally by a wide-sweeping view. While the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the volunteer maintaining clubs do spend lots of time and energy maintaining the tread of the trail, in the late summer and early autumn, we also spend time maintaining those beautiful open views. From the Lion's Head lookout in Salisbury, CT, the rolling fields of Bunker Hill are a critical part of the view. Maintained as grassland bird habitat, these fields are mowed once a year in mid-September.

This year, we captured some surprising wildlife in the bucket of the tractor.....

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September Events

As the trail crew season comes to an end here at the Kellogg Center, September events are taking it up a notch in the second half of the month!

Friday, September 16th is the next in the series of hikes we're offering with help from the Egremont COA. This month, the hike is also in conjunction with the Berkshire County Clean Air Challenge! Meet at the Kellogg Center at 10AM for a mile long hike through the beautiful surrounding forests and fields, after which we will do a walking tour of the historic outbuildings and barns!

On Saturday, September 17th, Hannah Chamberlain, the Trail Management Assistant at the Kellogg Center and Beth Critton, chair of ATC's Stewardship Council, will be leading a Housatonic Heritage hike from Bull's Bridge in Kent, CT to the 10-Mile River AT shelter. This hike is about 2.5 miles round trip and we will walk at a family pace and make lots of stops to enjoy nature. Meet at the Bull's Bridge parking area south of the town of Kent at 10AM.

On Friday the 23rd, Stargazing on the Appalachian Trail is taking place at the Kellogg Center. Thanks to a grant from the Alford-Egremont Cultural Council, we were able to involve two astrophysics students from Williams College who will lead us in a talk about the stars and an outdoor session of stargazing. We also have a telescope to use thanks to one of our very own South Egremont community members! The event will take place at the Kellogg Center from 7:30-9 PM.
Click to enlarge!

On Saturday the 24th, join Hannah Chamberlain and Christine Ward, from Gt. Barrington Land Trust at the Tyringham Cobble for a moderate, history hike to the top of one of New England’s major thrust faults, with a view of the beautiful Tyringham Valley below. Wear boots/sturdy footwear and bring drink/snacks. Limited to 12 hikers. 2.5 hours–3 miles. Meet at 10AM at the AT parking on Main Road in Tyringham. 

Please direct questions and RSVP to hchamberlain@appalachiantrail.org.

Happy trails!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Egremont Walks: the Series Continues!

Thanks to our former Trail Management Assistant, Silvia, we have a beautiful brochure detailing short hikes on the Appalachian Trail in Sheffield and Egremont. We are happy to have the schedule set for a few more of these hikes: they will occur on the 3rd Friday of August, September and October. Mark your calendars:
August 19th: 10AM Meet at the Shays' Rebellion Parking area on Sheffield-South Egremont Road. We will enjoy a leisurely stroll on the AT toward the lime kilns, then return to the parking area. Optional hike extension will take us out on the boardwalk for a look at the wetland area. Binoculars recommended! ~1.5-2 miles round trip.
September 16th: 10AM Meet at the Kellogg Conservation Center at 62 Undermountain Road. Another opportunity to get to know April Hill farm! We will do a 1 mile hike through the beautiful fields of the Kellogg Center "April Hill", which boast a pollinator garden, apple orchard and resident sheep. We will also take a look at historical outbuildings and discuss the farm's history.
October 21st: TBA!
If you can't make a hike, stop by our office on Undermountain Road to pick up a free copy of the brochure!
These hikers joined us for the first April Hill grounds tour. Won't you come along next time? 
And here's a bonus shot: The incredible weather we had for our Wildflower Walk at Tyringham Cobble!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wildflower Walk with Ted Elliman

Don't forget - this Sunday is the Wildflower Walk with Ted Elliman! See the flyer for details - this is an event not to be missed!! (And it's free!)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

GB AT Community Celebration 2016

Another wonderful success for the Great Barrington Appalachian Trail Community Day!

Coolers ready to go!

Gathering at Beartown State Forest's Benedict Pond in the morning were a group of intrepid hikers preparing for a 7-mile guided hike from Fernside road in Tyringham back to Benedict Pond. While those folks were enjoying the forest, beaver pond, and view from the Ledges, there was much activity at the Pond. Tents went up, picnic tables were laden with potluck dishes, and the Berkshire Ukulele Band set up their music stands. What a surprise it must have been for the hikers (those who did 7 miles and those thru-hikers who had hiked hundreds of miles alike) to come out of the woods and find such a bustling event!

Thru Hikers write GB-themed postcards
Altogether, we were able to feed and entertain about 20 thru hikers and about 100 community members. The music from the Berkshire Ukulele Band was relaxing and many folks chose to take a dip in the Pond. Remarks from members of the organizing committee highlighted the hard work of AT volunteers and trail builders, the tenacity of the thru hikers, and the generosity and hospitality of the people of Great Barrington.













Family-friendly fun!
The GB AT Community Celebration is an annual event that happens on the third Saturday of July every year. The Great Barrington Land Conservancy, Appalachian Mountain Club, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, MA DCR, Greenagers, and Berkshire Magazine are all partners in making the event happen. Our thanks to the Berkshire Co-Op and Annie Bananie Ice Cream (Kent, CT). If you didn't make it this year, we hope to see you there next summer!






Adam Morris oversees the dessert table
AT Volunteers enjoying each others company



We even had folks from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


AMC Leadership Trail Crew lent a hand

Partner remarks


The view from the bandstand

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Great Barrington AT Community Celebration

For anyone who hasn't heard, here's you're personal invitation to the Great Barrington AT Community Day, this Saturday at Benedict Pond in Beartown State Forest! It's going to be a fun and relaxing day filled with stories about the trail and the opportunity to meet people who are involved with the AT in all sorts of different capacities. See flyer below for details (click on it to enlarge).

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Upcoming Events - Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail!

Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail
Thursday, July 28 • 5:30 – 7:00 pm
Mason Library • 231 Main Street  Great Barrington, MA

Interested in what’s growing on the trail? Learn to recognize and key out some common wildflowers on the AT in Berkshire County. Bring your favorite wildflower guide and your curiosity to talk about the plants of the trail!

Wildflower Walk with Ted Elliman
Author of Wildflowers of New England
Sunday,  August 14 • 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Tyringham Cobble parking lot • Jerusalem Rd  Tyringham, MA

Come learn wildflowers from the best -- professional botanist Ted Elliman will be leading a free wildflower walk along the gently sloping floodplains of Hop Brook in Tyringham. Wetland plants are sure to be in full swing at this beautiful site in mid-August!

Bring hiking boots, tick protection, trail snacks, and your favorite wildflower guide.

RSVP’s encouraged! For more information or to RSVP, email rcarden@appalachiantrail.org.
            
Events hosted by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Making it Official - Kellogg Conservation Center pollinator habitat is a success!

In October of 2014 as part of a grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, ATC reclaimed an old piece of pasture at the far southwestern side of our Kellogg Conservation Center property.  The area, about 1 acre in size, is nestled between an old apple orchard (still producing, though not managed) and a marginal agricultural field that was formerly grazed and is now mowed annually.  Utilizing volunteer labor on a few of our annual workdays, we had cleared out quite a bit of competing brush and trees throughout the orchard and so the next task was to chemically remove from the area of a variety of invasive plants and then rake up the dead vegetation and replant with a broadcast mix of pollinator-specific perennial plant seeds.  See our blog post from October 15, 2014 for photos and an explanation on that process.

Last summer not a lot appeared to happen on the plot.  After consulting with some experts it turns out that many of the plants take more than a year to become established.  So we waited...

This spring, things were looking good and that trend has continued through the summer with a variety of species making themselves apparent and the area teeming with bees, butterflies, and other various insects.  Seeing the plants establish themselves led us to register the site as a monarch waystation with MonarchWatch.org.  A path is mowed through the pollinator plot and it is an easy 5 minute stroll from our offices, so anyone who is inclined may visit the site.


















ATC dogs approve! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Natural and Cultural History Hikes Series

We had the first of two Cultural and Natural History Hikes this past Saturday. These hikes are aimed at introducing people to the rich history on the Appalachian Trail in the valley west of the Housatonic River.

Natural Resources Tech Becca discusses a flowering Mountain Laurel
On Saturday, we hiked from the Kellogg Center to the Shays' Rebellion monument. Pastured sheep in the first section of the hike remind us of how historical land use is echoed in present-day farming. Those same fields were most likely used as sheep pasture during colonial times. Our walk through the woods was resplendent with wildflowers - Natural Resources Tech Becca Carden shared some of their secrets with us. The most exciting thing I learned on this hike? When the mountain laurel is in bloom, the pink dots inside each flower hold the flower's anthers. When a pollinator (or small stick) enters the flower, the anthers are activated by the touch and the spring out and hit the pollinator, effectively dusting him with pollen!

The activated Mountain Laurel flower
Once we were through the shady sections, the trail opened up onto the bridge over Mill Creek and the wetlands associated with it. We were treated to even more wildflowers before reaching the Shays' Rebellion Monument, a dedication to the last battle of Shays' Rebellion which occurred in the very early years of America's independence.

The next hike in this series is on Thursday, July 28th at 10 AM. Meet at the Kellogg Center on Route 41 in South Egremont. This one mile hike will take us through a stately pine forest and into the rolling fields of the Kellogg Conservation Center. After the hike, we will host an exclusive tour of the historic April Hill Farm buildings (original home built in 1744). Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the patio. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Race Brook Hike

Photo by Amillie Coster
Last Saturday, in spite of summery temperatures, we had a lovely hike up the Race Brook Trail and the AT to the top of Mt. Everett. Hannah Chamberlain of ATC, Amillie Coster of Race Brook Lodge and Bill Boyer, the Race Brook Trail volunteer Maintainer, were hike leaders.The hike was planned in coordination with Race Brook Lodge.  It's great to know that some of our local businesses are as dedicated to getting people outdoors as we at the KCC are! We're hoping to host a few more hikes of varying difficulty levels with Race Brook Lodge this summer and fall , so keep an eye out for announcements.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Annual KCC Spring Workday


Serious drainage improvements in action

 How would you feel if all your friends showed up at your house one spring day and offered to help out with all the yardwork projects you needed to do? Excited? Relieved? Grateful? Well, we felt all of those feelings and more last Saturday at our Annual Workday. Over 25 volunteers came to the Kellogg Conservation Center (KCC) to help us spruce up the grounds of this amazing historic property. Some of the folks who showed up have been volunteering for the ATC for decades; others had learned about the Workday through our outreach efforts and were checking out the property for the first time. Students from Berkshire School and Bard College at Simon’s Rock lent a hand and earned service credits in the process.


Edging the perennial bed






We had a long list of projects to complete including planting shrubs, improving fences for the farmer who grazes his sheep on our land, and fixing the driveway to prevent future washouts. Even though everyone was working hard, lively conversations could be overheard throughout the day. Life stories intermingled with stories about the AT, and there were more than a couple comments about the KCC’s bird population. The list seemed insurmountable, but bit by bit we were able to cross off each project. By the end of the day, we were all able to relax and enjoy a barbecue together.
Carpentry knowledge passed along



To make a long story short, the work we did at the Annual Workday would have been impossible to complete without the help of our dedicated and hardworking volunteers. A huge thank you to everyone who participated and we hope to see you again this summer! If you are interested in volunteering with the ATC, there are many opportunities to become involved – long term or just for a day! Please get in touch with Hannah, the KCC’s Trail Management Assistant, if you would like more information. Write to hchamberlain@appalachiantrail.org.
Heavy duty gravel work

Out with the old (boxwoods), in with the new!



A job well done

Monday, March 21, 2016

Fruit Tree Pruning Workshop

Early spring is the perfect time to undertake pruning efforts on trees, so ATC recently hosted an educational workshop at the Kellogg Center for community members interested in learning to prune and care for their fruit trees.  A feature of the property is an apple orchard that was planted in 1996 by then-owner Ms. Mary Margaret Kellogg.  The orchard has not received the attention required over the years and is now in need of some drastic efforts to bring it up to snuff.  This type of situation provides for a plethora of good examples of what types of cuts to undertake to promote good structure, increase fruit production, and minimize harm or damage to the tree.  Our instructor, Tom Ingersoll of Ingersoll Land Care, is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher.  He could literally talk for days on the subject and not repeat himself!  This is an annual offering at the Kellogg Center, so keep an eye out next spring and join us!






Monday, February 22, 2016

Old Man Winter Fails to Show His Face

Have you noticed it is has been a weird winter?  A lot of warm, snowless weeks and certainly not the prolonged snow and deep cold of last winter.  Blame it on El Nino or climate change or both, but here we are in the third week of February and the daffodils are pushing up their first tender shoots!  It looks more like late March or early April right now than February.  As trail managers, we generally look to the winter months to catch a breather, relax, and plan for another busy upcoming season.  When winter is abbreviated our recuperation time is as well.

Daffodils in the third week of February!
Kellogg Conservation Center


2016 promises to be a busy year on the trail as we expect to see an uptick in the number of people visiting this unit of the National Park Service following the September movie release of "A Walk in the Woods" and the resultant increased awareness of the possibility of a short hike or a long walk on the Appalachian Trail as a reality for a wide spectrum of the population.  We welcome that increase but with it comes inherent challenges: more trash, more erosion, more user conflicts, etc etc.  ATC has spent the past year or so kicking around ideas on how to mitigate such effects on the land, natural resources, and facilities that comprise the A.T. experience.  Our intended response is to raise awareness through increased education and more capacity (ie full-time and seasonal employees).  As of yet, we are unsure if we will be successful but we have worked to lay the foundation for that success.  Please consider a donation to ATC to help us further our mission to manage and protect the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.  

As you take your first steps out onto the Trail this season, please keep in mind the following seven principles of Leave No Trace outdoor ethics:

1. Plan ahead and prepare
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
3. Dispose of waste properly
4. Leave what you find
5. Minimize campfire impacts
6. Respect wildlife
7. Be considerate of other visitors



  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Job Opportunity!

Want meaningful outdoor work in a beautiful place this summer?  Apply to be Trail Management Assistant with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy!  Go here to see the job description and for instructions on how to apply:

http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home/about-us/careers/position-description/trail-management-assistant




Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Cougar Returns to the East

Winter is usually a relatively quiet time on the Appalachian Trail - less hikers, no bugs, some (or a lot of) snow and ice, wind, cold, and quiet.  It can also make for great wildlife tracking with the snow offering up insight into the mysteries of the animal kingdom.  What passed through last night?  Which way was it going?  How big was it?  One of the most interesting and scintillating mysteries is that of the cougar (or wildcat or mountain lion).  For many in the western United States it's existence is a reality, but in the east it is a ghost.  Some claim to have seen them, some claim that they aren't here or that if they are there is no viable breeding population.  Despite what side of the issue you claim, here is an opportunity to learn more about these stealthy creatures and their habits and habitat.  The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, along with several other local conservation organizations, is sponsoring a talk by expert Sue Morse of KeepingTrack to present her knowlegdge on the cougar followed by a question and answer session.  We hope you will join us.