Recently Daisy Scout Troop #64042 did some trail work at SOLF’s little “Clark Grove” property on Highland St. They even cleaned our sign! We love that we’ve been able to create a small trail for a neighborhood to enjoy. Thank you troop #64042 and leader Phaea Crede !
On Monday, November 28, eight employees from the SWCA Environmental Consultants office in Southborough volunteered at Bigelow Wildlife Refuge, spreading wood chips and pulling invasive honeysuckle. Thank you, Ariel and group for thinking of us!
On Sunday, November 20, Cub Scout Pack 1 learned about and practiced trail maintenance at two of our properties, Beals Preserve and Templeman Woods.
The older Cub Scouts and their parents worked with Board members Brett Peters and Larry Samberg at Templeman Woods-Watkins Woods off Rt. 85 by the Mass Pike overpass. With some hard work, they improved trail conditions through addition of new trail markers, clearing limbs and other trail blockages, enhancing trail sight lines, and cleaning up trash and litter from the area. Big thanks to the Scouts and parents who stepped up to help out!
The younger Cub Scouts and their parents worked with Board members Whit Beals, Debbie Costine, Lawrence Spezzano, and Eileen Samberg at Beals Preserve, starting at the Red Gate entrance. The Scouts learned about the importance of water bars to channel water off the trail, and helped clear them. Then the group walked down the trail to the Riding Ring junction, where they learned about invasives, pulled bittersweet and small buckthorn and burning bush saplings, watched and helped Whit Beals use a “puller bear” to pull larger buckthorn and burning bush saplings out by their roots. Big thanks to the Scouts and parents!
We are happy to announce that there is now a small parking area at the Beals Preserve Main Street Field on Route 30. The entrance to the parking area is on the south side of Main Street, between two stone pillars, east of Northborough Road and west of Chestnut Hill Road. Pull into the fenced area (it is currently grass, but will likely be layered with wood chips), and park perpendicular to the road at the stone wall, to the right of the sign post. Walk down the field through the opening in the fence to the lane and then across the bridge over the Wachusett channel.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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 email@example.com. 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.
In December 2021, members of the SOLF Board and a volunteer cleared invasive plants and brush around the Big Oak Woods sign post. In April 2022, members of the SOLF Board cleaned and repainted the post and hung a new sign.
Big Oak Woods
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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