Linny Levin Trail Dedication, November 2012
By Connie Snyder
Connie Snyder is a writer, environmentalist and UVLT volunteer who played a major role in the community effort to conserve Zebedee and visits the property frequently throughout the year.
At this time last year, many people from Thetford and surrounding
communities had contributed two major trail-building workdays plus a
morning of kiosk-raising in preparation for the November 17th dedication of the Linny Levin Trail at Upper Valley Land Trust’s Zebedee Wetlands on Houghton Hill Road. (And, through Thetford’s Conservation Commission, hundreds had contributed thousands of dollars in 2009 enabling UVLT to purchase the property which was slated for development, thus assuring public access forever).
During 2013, an additional work party of Dartmouth freshmen sponsored by The Tucker Foundation, as well as steady maintenance by UVLT stewardship employees and volunteers have continually improved the trail without taking away the “wild” feeling of this woods and wetlands habitat.
Zebedee on kiosk raising day, October 19, 2012. Photo by Connie Snyder.
A Valley Quest in Linny’s memory was also established last November and over 80 people have signed the logbook. Dartmouth ecology students and Vermont Law School students have also studied the place. Except, perhaps, for the hour or so on most Thursday mornings when 30-plus enthusiastic second graders from Thetford Elementary School walk the trail as part of their wetlands-study curriculum or, occasionally, when TES third graders or students from Open Fields School excitedly visit this living outdoor classroom, all who come to Zebedee exclaim upon the remarkable tranquility and beauty of this lovely place so close and yet so far from village center and busy highway. Quotes from the Valley Quest log book echo this enthusiasm: “Jules and I have gone on many quests but this was by far the best ever” and, from a well known photographer, “This place is so wonderful, thanks to all who made it so.”
Pete Helm, UVLT Vice President, Stewardship and Connie Snyder enjoy a stop on the Linny Levin Trail.
We can all be thanking each other. If you’re a regular at Zebedee, you already feel this. If you haven’t gotten over there yet, know that it’s open year ’round (and the Valley Quest box will still be there waiting for you to find it). Though the amazing bird, plant, amphibian, insect, reptile and mammal life packed into those 27 acres are not so apparent just now,the place is still wonderful in winter. In fact, every day at Zebedee is cause for celebration.
By Sara Cavin
Posted November 26, 2013
Lora Chatfield (right) and Nancy Jones hold a conserved land sign that will mark Helen’s Haven.
On a chilly November morning, Lora Chatfield signed a conservation easement deed to grant protections that the Upper Valley Land Trust will oversee for her woodland in Bradford, VT. The conservation of this 76 acre property will ensure the continuation of the careful stewardship that Lora has upheld since she became owner of the land after her mother’s passing.
Naming her conserved forest “Helen’s Haven,” Lora felt that her mother “would have been very pleased” to know that she had protected this land forever. Eventually, Lora’s daughter may inherit the forest, and the family’s legacy of caring for the land will continue in partnership with UVLT.
Nancy Jones, chair of the Bradford Conservation Commission, joined Lora for the conservation easement signing. The Commission raised $6,000 through gifts from generous individuals who gave in support of this conservation project. These funds helped cover important UVLT costs including the stewardship fund for Helen’s Haven.
All of us at UVLT send sincere gratitude to Lora for her donation of a conservation easement, to the BCC for their partnership, and also for every individual who gives what they can to support land conservation. As Nancy mentioned while the sun shown in the windows on all of us gathered for the closing, “that forest really is magical.” We wholeheartedly agree.
A place full of history and scenic beauty… a place for hiking, skiing and snowshoeing …
a place of active farming since 1800… a place that can be conserved with your help!
Alswell Farm is 50 acres located at the edge of Hanover Center village. The property is enjoyed by those who hike, ski and snowshoe in the fields and woods, and who sled on the slopes overlooking Moose Mountain. Landowner Ed Chamberlain wishes to conserve the land so that these special features will be protected forever:
- Public access to trails and fields for hiking and skiing
- Pastures and hayfields that have been actively farmed since 1800
- Wetlands that serve as headwaters for Slade and Monahan Brooks
- The site of one of Hanover’s earliest residences, important in Hanover history
- Scenic frontage on Wolfeboro Road, connecting to trail networks north and east
Ed Chamberlain has generously agreed to sell conservation restrictions at a deeply discounted price — now we have the opportunity to conserve this land if we can raise $60,000 before December 31st.
We are thrilled to be helping Ed conserve this marvelous property that means so much to the Hanover Center area. Please feel free to contact Peg Merrens to learn more about this project and please make your contribution today!
You can make a secure online gift toward our fundraising goal. Just make a note that the purpose of your contribution is for Alswell Farm.
Update: November 16, 2013
The Food and Drug Administration has extended the comment period for food safety rules by an additional week because of reported technical problems with the website for submitting comments, regulations.gov. NH Congressional Representative Annie Kuster led a New England delegation in asking for the extension.
The deadline for making comments on the FDA’s proposed rules to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has been extended to Friday, November 22.
PLEASE speak up about these rules that will impact the small farms that supply our region with safe, fresh food. If you haven’t been following this issue, here are four sources of information about why you should care.
Pooh Sprague, who operates award-winning Edgewater Farm with his family, has written: “FSMA as currently written is destructive to diversified and small-scale agriculture.” (Read the whole post.)
A blogpost by the Co-op Food Stores says, ” Unfortunately, the proposed rules published by the FDA in January have the potential to destroy the food security of our region and put us at greater risk of experiencing foodborne illness.” (The post contains guidelines for how to comment on the proposed rules and a link to a video on the subject.)
The New England Farmers Union (NEFU) has analyzed the proposed rules to understand the impact on our agricultural economy. They concluded that ” the rules were designed for large-scale commercial operations and in many cases are incompatible with the scale of operations or agricultural practices in our region.” (Read the NEFU Summary of the rules and impacts.)
The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA) has written about how FSMA will affect you. (Find up-to-date posts and references collected here.)
Ecologist Tii McLane leads a field session at UVLT’s 2013 Naturalist Training Program.
UVLT’s Upper Valley Naturalist Training will return in spring 2014! UVLT will team up with Hulbert Outdoor Center and other local groups to present a four week training on nature in the Upper Valley. Expert presenters will give Thursday evening classroom presentations and weekend field sessions on topics like plants, birds, mammals, geology, forest and wetland ecology and interpretive techniques. Planning is still in progress, but the training is scheduled to begin with the first evening classroom presentation on Thursday, April 24th and will conclude with the final field session on Saturday, May 24th. Registration will open soon, so check back in the near future for more details and registration information.
November 12, 2013
Rosalie Lipfert is a freelance writer, researcher and outdoor enthusiast. She visited Pinnacle Hill in Lyme and shares this story about the bench recently installed in memory of Alan Hewitt who generously cared for the people and places of Lyme.
According to Dan Freihofer, “Alan Hewitt was one of my best friends.” Alan (Al) died in 2010 from a heart attack caused by a congenital condition he had been living with his whole life. “And a full life he had,” wrote Dan. “A loving marriage, two wonderful daughters, a fulfilling career as a chemist at CRREL, and a full range of civic engagement including a long tenure on the Lyme Conservation Commission.”
When Al died, his widow Sue decided to spend the money from memorial contributions to create a fund that purchases cordwood every year, which several community members cut, split, and deliver to needy families in Lyme. (Sue gives much credit for this endeavor’s success to the energy and enthusiasm Dan pours into the wood project each year).
The summit of Pinnacle is marked by a stone chimney remaining from an old cabin, and now hosts a beautiful stone bench remembering the life of Alan Hewitt.
In addition to the wood project, some of Al’s beloved friends (and he had many) commissioned a bench. Originally, Sue wished for the bench to be placed down at Post Pond, one of Al’s favorite spots, but installation was delayed by the construction that took place there these past few years. But one day about 3 weeks ago, Sue was hiking the Pinnacle (another one of Al’s favorites) when the idea occurred to her to place the bench up there instead. The owner of this parcel of land, Hellen Darion, as well as the Upper Valley Land Trust, which holds a conservation easement and trail easement, were contacted and agreed. The bench installation was in order.
The next time you are in Lyme with an hour or two to spend and a craving for ascending the challenging but friendly Pinnacle climb, know that you will have a place to rest once at the top. Whether you knew Al or not, the bench that acts as his memorial allows you to gaze out in one direction towards the Connecticut River Valley and the hillsides of Vermont, or to turn 180 degrees and become mesmerized by iconic Smarts Mountain with its softly-curved summit. And more importantly, the bench allows you to sit within the silent peace of the New Hampshire woods, remembering Al, or meditating on any thoughts that pass by during your Pinnacle hike.
Alan Hewitt, center front row, loved Post Pond and Pinnacle in all seasons. He was “Commissioner” of the Lyme Pond Hockey Association.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
4:30 – 7:00 pm
Please join us to celebrate land conservation and the people who make it happen!
Visit with UVLT staff, Trustees and supporters. Learn about our recent work and help us thank volunteers. Find out how you can be involved.
- Maps and displays about land conservation and stewardship
- Stories and pending projects
- Friends, fun, refreshments (home-cooked chili and cornbread, drinks and snacks)
Stop by any time 4:30 – 7:00 pm. Find directions to our office here.
You can help us plan by emailing Lorie Hood to let us know you expect to join us.
October 9, 2013
Maggie Stoudnour, UVLT Environmental Education Consultant
Being a naturalist is more than just knowing about the natural world. It’s also about sharing that knowledge with others. Often, I think this pairing comes, well, naturally! In order to know a lot about something, it helps to be interested in it. And if you are interested in something enough to learn about it, it’s a quick leap to being passionate about it. And when someone is passionate about something, he or she can’t help but share it with other people. I’ve noticed, however, that many people have trouble putting this last part into action. There is something (or multiple “somethings”) that give us pause when it comes to doing the show-and-tell that comes along with being a naturalist. While an interest in nature and a desire to share it with others comes easily, feeling confident and comfortable enough to actually do it takes some time and even a little skill.
Luckily, nature does a lot of the work for us. Our role as naturalists is simply to interpret the things we see every day on our walks in the woods and even in our own backyards so that they becoming meaningful. A “plant” that we have always walked right past and barely noticed becomes an individual with a name and a story. What were once some scratches on a tree take on new life as evidence of bear. A plain old rock becomes an entry point into the last ice age. The background noise of birdsong turns into a symphony of voices, each belonging to its own small feathery singer.
Beginning naturalists often find it difficult to think about how they might begin to tackle their role as nature’s interpreters. They worry that maybe they don’t know enough. They worry someone in the group might know more than they do about their topics. They worry about being boring and losing the interest of their participants. They worry about saying something wrong or inaccurate. They worry they won’t be able to lead the group effectively.
As it happens, nature interpretation isn’t new, and there are some tried and true techniques for sharing nature. All it takes is a willingness to learn and a little practice. The first thing to realize is that interpretation is just a style of presentation, and the basic rules of presenting apply: smile, face your audience, speak loudly enough for everyone to hear, be enthusiastic about your topic (and choose a topic that you don’t need to fake enthusiasm for), make eye contact, etc. The uniquely wonderful fact that the presentation is happening outdoors, on the move, and most likely in a beautiful place comes with some additional challenges. Keeping people’s interest when there are so many distractions requires more than just standing and talking. Nature interpretation begs to be interactive, experiential and hands-on. When people are outside, they want to touch, smell and taste. They don’t just want to look and listen, they want to explore. It behooves a naturalist to find ways to indulge these impulses. When people are outside, they want to move. Most often, the audience a naturalist interprets for is mixed, and it can take some creativity to meet the needs and expectations of children who have short attention spans and need to run and jump, younger adults who feel inspired to hike quickly between stops and senior citizens who need to take it slow. There are proven and relatively simple solutions to each of these challenges, which we will be delving into on Saturday’s workshop. Here’s a teaser, in no particular order:
Maggie’s Top Ten Interpretive Tips
1. Develop a clear theme and build your stops around that theme
2. Alternate active time and listening time
3. Always stay in the lead and set the pace for the slowest person in the group
4. Look for and stop for teachable moments
5. Bring a few simple tools to encourage hands-on involvement
6. Make use of questioning and other “interactive” styles of presenting
7. Channel your inner cartoon character
8. Don’t try to memorize your talk
9. Plan no more than five stops and talk for no more than ten minutes at a time
10. Relax and have fun: your audience is on your side!
October 4, 2013
Sara Cavin, Project Manager
Did you feel like this summer was a bit of a roller coaster ride? Maybe not, but I must say I’m rather happy to welcome fall and have a little more control over the ups and downs – on a bike of course!
This route is one I have been meaning to do for a while, and I just might find the time soon to roll about through these hills. After visits with landowners and community groups in this “four corners” region where West Windsor, Reading, Woodstock and Hartland all come together, I kept telling myself to return with a bike and really see some of the places along the way. So, that’s the plan!
Find a friend who’s up for braving dirt roads and hills, and have fun exploring!
Because I’m inviting you to check out this route with me for the first time, the cue sheet may lack a few little details that might otherwise help describe the turns and climbs, but I know you adventurous folks out there will find the journey fun! Some of you may have even enjoyed these views – or similar ones – as part of the VT 50 last weekend, so here’s another chance to take in the autumn vistas and keep up the training before the dark and cold close in!
Take in long views like this one across Thorny Hills Farm pastures north toward Norman property.
Now, get out, enjoy the blazing hills, and relish a ride in this beautiful part of our Valley.
Ride Name: “West Windsor Hills”
Description: 25+/- mile majority dirt road ride with plenty of hills to keep you warm and cool you off. Start and end in the parking lot at Ascutney Mountain Resort in Brownsville (West Windsor), VT.
Route, directions and elevation profile found here:
UVLT-conserved lands and trails along this route:
Download detailed cue sheet noting conserved lands:
September 30, 2013
Sara Cavin, Project Manager and Anna Slack, Programs Coordinator
The canopy of the forest – photo is from a May site visit by UVLT staff.
The Upper Valley Land Trust joined friends for a “Forest Walk & Talk” hosted by the Bradford Conservation Commission (BCC) on a recent sparkling fall afternoon. The event drew over thirty people to “Helen’s Haven” to learn about the land, its history, and unique ecological qualities. UVLT and landowner Lora Chatfield are working together to conserve the forest with the support of the BCC. ‘Helen’s Haven’ is a 76-acre forested tract in Bradford, VT passed down to Lora by her mother Helen Chatfield, one of the founders of the Bradford Conservation Commission. Lora’s gift of a conservation easement to UVLT will protect the forest her mother loved and maintain quality timber production and wildlife habitat to benefit future generations.
The gathering provided opportunities for discussion with many local experts familiar with the property and its special features.
Consulting forester Markus Bradley spoke about the forest from a timber management perspective, praising the land for its high quality red oak – a relatively rare species to find in high-density stands in Orange County. Markus described red oak as a desirable tree in the forest products industry, and also explained its significance for wildlife such as deer, bear and turkey which all feed on acorns. As if on cue, the wide-crowned red oaks surrounding the group offered up many of these nuts with each slight wind gust – the steady shower kept us all alert! Redstart Forestry has worked with Lora to develop a forest management plan that enhances the quality timber on the property as well as maintaining important types of wildlife habitat.
UVLT’s Amber Boland and Sara Cavin listen to a question about conservation easements.
UVLT’s Sara Cavin and Amber Boland described the process of conserving land with a conservation easement to the Upper Valley Land Trust. Sara explained that landowners enter into conservation easements voluntarily and each conservation easement deed is unique to the property it conserves. The terms are crafted by landowners and UVLT together after careful consideration of the natural features to be protected. The conservation easement planned for Helen’s Haven will protect land that provides wintering grounds for whitetail deer, hosts a productive vernal pool, buffers town water supplies by absorbing runoff and filtering precipitation through its forest soils, and grows timber for local wood products. The group asked many good questions and thanked Lora for considering the conservation of this special place. Sara also recognized the Bradford Conservation Commission which is assisting with this project. The BCC is dedicating proceeds from its annual Conservation Fund appeal to help cover UVLT’s costs to accept and steward the conservation easement.
Neighbor, wildlife columnist, and former Commissioner of the VT Department of Fish & Wildlife Gary Moore gave a historical perspective on the property. His family previously owned the land that includes the forests of Helen’s Haven so Gary could recall a time when much of the property was open pasture used for grazing cattle. He pointed out some nearby stone walls as evidence of previous pasture boundaries and noted wryly, “No one built stone walls in the woods for aesthetics!” Gary also shared his own wildlife observations on the land, describing sightings of deer, bear (including one very close to home!), moose, partridge, turkey and snowshoe hare.
Lastly, Bradford Conservation Commission Chair and retired biology teacher Nancy Jones introduced the group to some of the smaller and perhaps lesser known residents of Helen’s Haven – those found in and around the forest floor and the property’s vernal pool! Nancy helped the group get up close to a wood frog, redback salamanders, spotted salamanders, and the pupae of caddis fly larvae, explaining that all were indicators of clean and healthy water. Some of the group then hiked into the property to help Nancy return the inhabitants to the forest floor and vernal pool. They then joined those who had remained at Lora’s cabin and all were treated to refreshments and more conversation by a crackling campfire.
Like the other participants, UVLT staff enjoyed the opportunity to learn from colleagues and friends, and spend a beautiful fall afternoon outside. Many thanks to the Bradford Conservation Commission and Lora Chatfield for hosting this event! As the final pieces come together for the conservation of ‘Helen’s Haven’, UVLT looks forward to celebrating the achievement with the Lora and the local community at the closing. Stay tuned for more information, and if you’d like to see more pictures from this event visit the UVLT Facebook page by clicking here.
The vernal pool located in the forest of Helen’s Haven. Photo also from the May site visit.
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