Entering its third year as a statewide program, MassLIFT-AmeriCorps continues to recruit volunteers in support of land conservation, land stewardship, and service learning. Mount Grace, which founded and directs the program, has four AmeriCorps members this year.
Interest from the Town of Northfield has led to several early projects there. Outreach Coordinator Willa Caughey helped plan the installation of the new informational kiosk at the Gulf Road parking area that serves the Northfield Town Forest and Brush Mountain. Donated by Michael Humphries Woodworking, the kiosk was installed by volunteers in October. Willa is also working with a local Eagle Scout candidate to improve the Town Forest Trails.
Both projects were called for in the Town’s ten year plan for the Town Forest, which Mount Grace’s original MassLIFT crew helped write in 2010 in partnership with the Conservation Commission. Continuing the tradition of helping local communities meet their needs, Regional Conservationist Andrea Buglione, who serves with the North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership, is using her GIS mapping expertise to help the Town update their open space plan. “There’s been a lot of new data added to state mapping layers since they last completed a plan in 2004,” she explains. “The Open Space Committee has been really enthusiastic about working with me to make sure the viewsheds and important new areas for recreation get added into the map to help plan for the future.”
Downstream in Gill, Service Learning Coordinator Teresa Arey started her year working with students from Stoneleigh Burnham School and Greenfield Math and Science School to sample macro-invertebrates in the Falls River as a way of gauging the river’s health. She’s also working with Mahar Regional High School on projects ranging from community gardens to new signs for Mount Grace properties.
Molly Heuss, our Land Steward, returns to New England after a year with AmeriCorps in New Mexico serving with the Sierra Blanca Service Corps. After training with Stewardship Biologist Tom Wansleben, Molly has completed solo monitoring visits at conservation restrictions in New Salem and Warwick and is working with Willa Caughey to design an interpretive trail at Red Fire Farm in Montague and to plan an invasives removal day in Winchendon at Whitney Memorial Forest.
MassLIFT is always looking for new community volunteers to assist with projects like these. You can contact any of our MassLIFT members through the links provided below.
MassLIFT’s partner trusts include Franklin Land Trust, Kestrel Land Trust, Nashua River Watershed Association, Sudbury Valley Trustees, and Wildlands Trust. Other organizations participating this year include the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club, Buzzards Bay Coalition, Connecticut River Watershed Council, East Quabbin Land Trust, Essex County Greenbelt Association, Greenagers, Groundwork Lawrence, Hilltown land Trust, the Millers River Watershed Council, and the North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership. MassLIFT is funded in part by a federal AmeriCorps grant and is supported by the Massachusetts Service Alliance.
For more information about MassLIFT see the program page.