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.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has published a 25-page pictorial guide to Invasive Plants. You can view the guide on our Resources page.
The Southborough Open Land Foundation had its Annual Meeting on May 18, 2022 at the Southborough Community House. The evening started with a wine and cheese reception followed by a welcome by Vice President Debbie Costine. Debbie gave an overview of SOLF and its relationship to the town, explaining that SOLF is a private non-profit tax-exempt organization, and that the land, including Beals Preserve, is the private property of SOLF, and that the land is open to the public.
President Whitney Beals then gave a review of the activities and accomplishments over the past year, pointing out that we are the stewards of our 15 properties, with Beals Preserve our hallmark parcel. Debbie Costine has been spearheading Saturday work crews at Beals Preserve, clearing along the main lane, controlling the invasive and highlighting native trees and shrubs. Kat McKee, chair of the Southborough Trails Committee, and scouts from Troop 92 worked on maintaining the joint trail systems at Templeman Woods, a SOLF property and Watkins Woods, a town property. At Bigelow Wildlife Refuge, Eagle Scout Robby Stewart, with oversight by trustee Lawrence Spezzano, built a path and a viewing platform, and Lawrence has been working on knotweed control using fine wire mesh.
We lost Linda Hubley, a dear friend, in 2021. The Southborough Scholarship Committee started the Linda Hubley Memorial Scholarship Fund for students with a strong interest in environmental studies. Linda worked on environmental causes, volunteered in schools, was an election worker, started the first online newspaper in Southborough. She was awarded the Elaine Beals Conservation Award in 2010. SOLF issued a challenge to match $1000. We received $1600 in donations for the scholarship fund, making a total of $2600. Skip Hubley and two representatives of the Scholarship Fund (Kathleen Kuklewicz and Alexandra Mills) accepted the donation from VP Debbie Costine.
Whit Beals then presented the Elaine Beals Conservation Award 2022 to Jim Gorss. Jim lived close to Breakneck Hill, a town property. He was responsible for much of the look and accessibility of the property that we enjoy today. He was on and chaired the Stewardship committee. He also installed fencing at the Beecology Garden. Congratulations to Jim for this well-earned award.
Debbie Costine Introduced Peter Alden, our speaker for the evening. Peter gave a highly informative and entertaining presentation on perspectives on changing wildlife populations in New England since the time of Henry David Thoreau; new arrivals like the cardinal and moose and those no longer seen like the ruffed grouse.
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.
SOLF supports the Stewardship and Trails Committees’ Scoop the Poop campaign to protect our conservation lands, our trails, our wildlife habitat, our water, and to keep Southborough clean and beautiful. Over the coming weeks they will be posting information to promote awareness about the importance of picking up dog waste and where dog walking is not permitted. Please watch the link below to learn about the best practices for managing dog waste and the danger of improper disposal: https://bit.ly/3IM5CqX. This initiative is funded by a 2021 Choate Fund Grant. #Soboscoopsthepoop
Bigelow Wildlife Refuge, on Bigelow Road, features a beautiful wetland swamp and woodland that can be explored along a 300-foot gravel path to a viewing platform.
Link to the Bigelow Wildlife Refuge page.
Link to the Templeman Woods page and Templeman-Watkins Loop Trail.
The joint Templeman Woods and Watkins Woods Conservation Land properties comprise 18 contiguous acres of wetlands and uplands. The Templeman-Watkins Loop Trail can be accessed from Cordaville Road (Rte 85). Features include wooden boardwalks constructed by several Eagle Scout candidates, vernal pools, glacial rock formations, old stone walls, and the Martha Templeman dedication plaque. There is limited parking near the trail entrance for two or three cars along Rte. 85, close to the Mass Pike overpass.