Our hitch was a good one. It was filled with long work filled days, with miles of walking on trails not meant for a walking person. On average we managed about 10 miles a day on trails made for dirt bikes. Well trails not even made for dirt bikes, as these trails are illegal. Well “were” illegal. We closed every one we could lay a foot on. Even with these days filled with hiking up and down trails designed to take the most diﬃcult route possible, my crew was all smiles. We were on trails not often frequented by the illegal dirt bikers who created them, much less any hikers who might...Read more
The water supply region of Massachusetts is home to a beautiful array of public lands, including the Quabbin Reservoir and the Ware River Watershed. The Ware River Watershed (one of the few unfiltered and open-to-the-public water supplies in the country), where we served on our first 10-day hitch, feeds into the Quabbin, which in turn supplies water to Boston. We worked along the Massachusetts Central Rail Trail, a wide gravel trail used often by walkers, joggers, bikers, and on occasion, horses. Unfortunately, a number of unauthorized trails have sprouted up over the years. Our task was...Read more
Sometimes your fondest memories are the big accomplishments, like closing off an illegal trail head with an excessively large tree; or finally getting down that darn tree that was hung up all afternoon with the help of the Freetown Fire Department. And yes, these two moments were very significant, especially in our goal to shut down miles of illegal motorcycle trail. But for me, it was the minor accomplishment of creating possibly my favorite ice...Read more
The forearm. An often forgotten muscle group, forever in the shadow of the impressive bicep. When working on trails in forests and public lands, you begin to ﬂex and tear muscles you never knew you had, including your forearm. What develops in this area is called the Trail Forearm, specifically referring to the engorged lump on the exterior of your arm that develops after extensive use of the wrist. The road to developing such a muscle in the field is perilous and long.
Heading out into the field, you carry loppers and a handsaw. Your project could be trying to clear a...Read more
On our hitch there was one fateful day. Right in the middle of our 10 day hitch of building rock steps on Mt Watatic there was a catastrophe. A dreadful, terrible, tragedy had bestowed the crew. Our camping stove had started to spit fire and act up in all sorts of ways. This itself wasn’t the worst thing to befall our crew. Without the stove we were still able cook the night’s meal over a fire. The real dilemma was that our stove was unusable Saturday morning meaning no hot water, which meant no coffee. And that meant one sleepy crew.
I tried to deliver...Read more
With the first hitch of the season under my belt I feel confident and amped up for the coming months, both the service to be done and the time around my new home. For the first hitch my crew and I focused our efforts on clearing corridors and removing blowdowns throughout the Kenneth Dubuque State Forest trail system. Conveniently this forest is also where SCA Massachusetts AmeriCorps is based out of. Through hiking and clearing the trails that have surrounded me for the past two months I was able to see just how beautiful and diverse the place where I live is. A calming brook...Read more
At out project site on the Quinobequin Road trail we had the pleasure of making acquaintances with multiple trail users. Many were eager to ask us what we were doing and where we were from. Most of the users lived in the surrounding neighborhood and were very happy to have the section of trail moved to keep it out of the water that covered the path in the wet season. One of the highlights of being on this section of trail was seeing massive snapping turtles mating. It was something most of our crew had never witnessed before. The turtles were 40 lbs each and made quite a scene by the...Read more
Our team started our Conservation Season with a pretty challenging first project. The location: Middlesex Fells Reserve – a large reserve ten miles north of Boston. The project: install stone steps on a 100 foot portion of the Skyline trail. From the beginning, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to lay 100 feet of stones in 5 days. I spoke with our State contact about this and he agreed that the project was ambitious for the period of time. He left it up to our team as to how we wanted to improve the trail with the time we had.
This was pretty daunting for a first time crew-...Read more
When Student Conservation Association (SCA) supporter and 1983 alumnus, Bob Kachinski, was fresh out of college, he went on what he describes as “a real adventure” by boarding a bus in Massachusetts for a three-day, three-night cross-country trip to rural Worland, Wyoming. Once at his destination, Bob was to start a three month SCA internship with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as an assistant to a regional wildlife biologist.
Recalling his journey and his first impressions upon arrival, 31 years later, Bob says he was struck by how different things were. “…..Confined to...Read more