Category Archives: Projects

Bigelow Wildlife Refuge Progress Report – September 2022

As of August 2022, there is now just off-road parallel parking available for one or two cars on a cleared wood-chip area. Please do not park on Bigelow Road as it has no shoulder and parking is not allowed in the turn-around at the end of Bigelow Road. (Alternatively, visitors can drive to Walker Street in Westborough and park at the SVT Sawink Farm parking lot. From the lot, it’s a 1400-foot walk along the old farm road to Bigelow Road and the entrance to Bigelow Wildlife Refuge.)

One of the challenges at Bigelow Wildlife Refuge is control of knotweed, primarily at the front of the property. Another is maintaining the trail to the viewing platform. Trustee Lawrence Spezzano has been instrumental in overseeing and organizing work projects. In the spring of 2022, Lawrence laid down wire mesh to slow the growth of knotweed and over time may stop the growth. In July 2022, a work party — Lawrence Spezzano, Whit Beals, Larry Samberg, Eileen Samberg, Kathryn Korostoff — weeded the front and the path, and spread a thick layer of wood chips.

Pollination Preservation Garden Planting at Beals Preserve – September 2022

Freddie Gillespie, chair of the Southborough Open Space Preservation Commission, has been recruiting volunteers to install a Pollination Preservation Garden at SOLF’s Beals Preserve. Preliminary work was done last summer and fall. After poison ivy control work and garden prep in June, volunteers did a major planting on July 16–17.

Volunteers did another major planting on Saturday, July 23, in spite of the heat wave. Volunteers, including SOLF Board Members Sally Watters, Debbie Costine, Larry Samberg, Eileen Samberg, and SOLF volunteers Brett Peters and Kathryn Korostoff, started early at 8 am and worked to almost 12 noon. Great job, everyone!

Volunteers worked again on Saturday, July 30, taking the project close to completion. And more work was done on Saturday, August 6.

The Pollination Preservation Garden is getting a lot of love from Freddie Gillespie and her volunteers. Here is how it looks on September 14, 2022.

Clean-up at Beals Preserve Is Ongoing

Board members and volunteers have been meeting at the Beals Preserve kiosk on Saturdays at 10 am to do invasive clean-up, remove overgrowth from valuable trees and shrubs, and reveal the stone wall along the lane. Please join us! Follow us on Facebook for the next dates or email us at Bring sturdy gloves, loppers, etc.

Debbie Costine, on Saturday, May 14, once again rounded up volunteers to work at Beals Preserve, continuing cleanup around the kiosk area and under the large juniper. Volunteers were Erin Flowers, Lawrence Spezzano, and Eileen Samberg. Debbie pointed out horsetail (equisetum) “spreading its wings”. About to move some brush, we discovered a bird’s nest with eggs, likely song sparrow, so we left the brush until the brood hatches and flies away.

Another successful cleanup day on Saturday, May 7. Whitney Beals, on his tractor, worked on the area by the kiosk and the old horse fence, removing a number of invasive honeysuckle shrubs and buckthorn saplings, and along with Eileen Samberg, freed the fence. Meanwhile Kathryn Korostoff and Debbie Costine pruned a silky dogwood, removing the overgrowth encroaching on the lane, and revealing more of the wall.

On April 30, Debbie Costine and Brett Peters cleared some of the wall, removing multiflora rose and bittersweet.

On April 16, Debbie Costine and Kathryn Korostoff (Native Plant Gardens of Southborough) were able to spend a couple of hours clearing invasives from one of the posts and gates near the kiosk.

Ongoing Saturday morning trail-work continues at Beals Preserve. On April 9, SOLF Trustees Debbie Costine and Eileen Samberg, and volunteer Brett Peters cleared out around an impressive High Bush Blueberry along the Old Farm Lane to feature its beautiful colors and structure. See the “before” (with Eileen and Brett) and after. Looking forward to seeing it bloom and berry. Next work day, April 16.

Bigelow Wildlife Refuge Update: Knotweed Control

Although best known for the rustic landscapes and hiking trails of our Beals Preserve, did you know SOLF also maintains about 20 properties and community spaces in town? SOLF trustee Lawrence Spezzano and volunteers having been working to remove invasives and beautify our newest property trail at our Bigelow Wildlife Refuge near the end of Bigelow Road in Southborough. If interested in helping, please contact SOLF at When you come to work, bring gloves, firm rake or pruners, if you have them!

Lawrence has been laying down a wire mesh to slow the growth of knotweed. As the stems continue to grow, they will expand in diameter. At a certain point, the stems will push against the steel mesh and girdle themselves. The surface growth (stems and leaves) of the plant wilts and will eventually die, but the rhizome will continue to push new stems up through the ground (and wire mesh). This will continually kill the stems and will lead to the depletion of rhizome carbohydrate stores, which are required by the stems for growth.

SOLF Spring Clean-up Has Begun

On Saturday, April 2, trustees Eileen Samberg, Lawrence Spezzano, and I met up with SOLF volunteer Brett Peters to begin what we plan to be weekly sessions of trail work and invasive plant clean-up at our properties, starting at The Elaine and Philip Beals Preserve. SOLF president Whitney Beals came by to give his thoughts on possible priority areas, like the old farm lane through the middle of the preserve for starters. There are some native shrubs we will save and feature: especially high bush blueberry, elderberry and silky dogwood.

We accomplished an impressive amount of clearing in the vicinity of the kiosk. (see before and after photos) Once we started, it was hard to stop — digging in to the oriental bittersweet, japanese honeysuckle, and very thorny Multiflora rose. Eileen had appeared first thing with new information beautifully designed and laminated to put in the kiosk. She had replaced the plexiglass in the doors previously after discovering some “projectile” holes of some sort.

We found our new volunteer Brett to be enthusiastic energetic and amiable, ready to dive into physical work as a break from sitting long hours at his desk.

The prior Saturday, new volunteer Meghan Ackley, (also energetic and enthusiastic), Eileen, and I tackled some of the nasty and highly invasive Japanese barberry encroaching the trail further up on the old farm lane.

It is truly heart-warming to see this progress! We are looking forward to continued productive Saturday mornings!

Next session: Saturday, April 9, 10:00 am meeting at the kiosk. We welcome help! Please email us at if you are interested in helping to maintain our signature property for everyone’s enjoyment. Bring sturdy gloves, loppers etc. (cancelled in the event of rain).

Debbie Costine SOLF Vice President

Platform at Bigelow Wildlife Refuge

SOLF was the beneficiary of Robby Stewart’s hard work and skills as he finished his Eagle Scout project in the spring of 2021. After presenting his project several times to the Southborough Conservation Commission to get approval, he organized his troop to build a viewing platform at SOLF’s Bigelow Wildlife Refuge. The troop also removed many invasive plants to clear the way for the path to the platform. Viewers can now look out over a large wetland area to watch birds and other wildlife. Many thanks to Robby and Boy Scout Troop 1 for their hard work.

Platform at Bigelow Wildlife Refuge

Wildlife Survey

In March 2014, SOLF began a wildlife survey of reptiles and amphibians at Beals Preserve. The project was originated and is being directed by SOLF member Lawrence Spezzano of Southborough with the generous assistance of wonderful volunteers from Southborough and other communities! SOLF volunteers are continuing to collect evidence, including bird, mammal, insect and plant diversity through 2015. More volunteers are always needed,  please contact SOLF at, if your are interested. The information  already collected suggests relationships among species, their gender, length and mass, which could drive future conservation efforts in Southborough and neighboring towns!  For more information on this project, and information about about what has already been found, click here.