Notes from the Field – Land Stewardship 2021

UPDATES FROM THE FIELD: Our Stewardship Coordinator, Emily Merlino, reports on the latest activity on NCLT land

Stewardship Intern and UMass Amherst Shadowing – Jackie Monahan finished her summer internship with us and is in her last semester at Mount Wachusett Community College, she still joins us for field work once a week and we are grateful to have her! UMass Amherst student Jordan Moran joined us to shadow field visits this fall and learned about property monitoring and reports. We are excited to say that we hope to welcome a summer intern next year as well, reach out to Emily at if you are interested in applying!

Quarry Lane – This fall we put the community garden to bed for winter for the first time with our partners, Growing Places and Busy Bees Preschool. We cleaned up with local Fitchburg community volunteers and reflected on the first garden season programming with the Busy Bees students and began planning for the 2022 season. If you are interested in gardening with us for 2022, please reach out! We also cleared out the front of the Quarry Lane property with some great volunteers from the Bemis Leadership Team.  The area will be used as a welcoming entryway to the community garden and a pocket park for the neighborhood showcasing pollinator plants and a sitting area.

Keyes– We have continued to get to know the land at Keyes and getting to know the community surrounding the land. To help us design and plan for the future of the area we applied for a Conway School of Landscape and Design project which we were selected for. Students’ capstone project next year will be to study the property and help determine the best options for designing the park. We also hired Terramor, a land stewardship contractor, to build a proper parking area on Princeton Street which should be completed this fall. A kiosk has just been installed and now welcomes visitors to the area and most of the trails have been blazed. This work was made possible by grant funding from the Community Foundation of North Central Mass.

Watatic – Our Watatic property has been enjoyed this year and improved with attention paid to the property once again. We had an invasive pull volunteer day led by Fitchburg State professor Chris Piccone and attended by his Conservation Biology students and students from Mount Wachusett Community College, a huge brush pile of invasives shows their hard work! Also, dilapidated buildings on the property were demolished and removed, and the house was winterized to protect the existing building.

Underwood – Day of Caring this year brought many volunteers from Workers Credit Union and NCLT volunteers together to haul 2.5 tons of lumber 1/3 mile to build a 92 ft bog bridge. The bridge was designed and build led by volunteer Tom Bratko, we are so grateful for his generous donation of time and skill for this immense undertaking!

Kirby – An all-lady volunteer crew added stepping stones to a wet area on Hidden Pond trail and cleared out and channelized streams on Hidden Pond and AT&T trail.  Placing strategic stepping stones allowed the trail to remain without a bridge and passable with less impact on the land.  Clearing and maintenance of the streams that cross the trails allow water to pass through in a single channel and reduces erosion and water seeping onto the trail.

Dwelly – All summer the pollinator plants that we established in the spring thrived with the extra rain and summer heat.  We mowed the field for its first year to cut down on invasive plants which may have germinated over the season and to prepare for winter. We now can witness the field come back strong in the spring with the pollinator species that were selected.