On February 25th a bad wind storm hit the hilltowns, centered around a tornado that touched down in Conway and Goshen, tearing roofs off a number of homes and damaging more with fallen trees. In other nearby towns, the storm caused power outages and more downed trees. Fortunately, no one was reported injured in the storm, but the property damage was not insignificant.
Franklin Land Trust organized a cleanup of a wetlands adjacent to the town common in Conway, where the tornado demolished a nearby barn, scattering debris across the area. Our two MassLIFT-AmeriCorps service members Tamsin and Katie spent the afternoon of March 2nd at the cleanup, helping clear slate, planks, metal, and trash from the wetlands with other volunteers.
That same day, Sarah LaPointe, one of our volunteer property monitors and a member of the Williamsburg Woodland Trails committee, sent Tamsin an email notifying her of significant blow down affecting the trails on HLT’s Bradley property in Williamsburg. The Bradley Sanctuary is one of our most popular fee-owned properties for public recreation. Sarah lives nearby and monitors the property for us on an annual basis. Having taken our property monitor training, she was able to make a map for us while walking the trails, indicating where 10 trees had come down and were blocking the trails.
Tamsin and Hilltown Land Trust Executive Director Sally Loomis quickly worked to organize a couple of trail cleanup days. Since the trees were large, they would first need to be chain sawed into smaller pieces that could be picked up, so we scheduled two separate trail maintenance days, one for chain sawing the downed trees and the second to remove the cut-up logs.
As any New Englander knows, the weather sometimes makes outdoor activities a challenge to schedule, and the weather wasn’t feeling especially cooperative that week. The morning of the first work day was snowy and cold, but three volunteers showed up buck up the downed trees so they could be more easily moved by other volunteers. They spent about an hour and a half in the woods that morning and even took down a couple of dead trees that were threatening to block the trail after the next big storm.
Two days later, the temperature was in the teens, with strong, cold winds, but we still had 11 hearty volunteers come out to help us clear the trails, six of whom were new volunteers. They spent two hours in the below-freezing March afternoon, hauling logs, removing branches, and doing some chain sawing as well. A number of the volunteers are members of the Williamsburg Woodland Trails committee, who help us with monitoring and maintaining the public trails on our Bradley and Breckenridge properties in Williamsburg.
The quick thinking and hard work of our volunteers meant that our trails at the Bradley Sanctuary were open only two weeks after the storm! We are so grateful to have such a phenomenal group of people ready and willing to help out when they are needed and to be part of such a supportive community. We could not do what we do without the help of our volunteers and donors and their generosity.