Home Sweet Home Opens Doors to Historical Learning

Home Sweet Home: Open House Day at The Trustees of Reservations Historic Homes

From early 1700’s missionaries to mid-20th century architecture, The Trustees of Reservations’ Home Sweet Home: Open House Day offers families a chance to learn about lots of fascinating history. Opening the doors of historic homes across Massachusetts all day long on Saturday, May 31st, the Home Sweet Home event will allow visitors to certain Trustees properties access to spaces not often open to the public – this opportunity is not to be missed!

Locally, families in western Massachusetts can choose from five different properties to visit. Each historic home is related to both local and national history, and has its own unique story to tell. The tale of each place uses architecture, landscape, material culture, and the stories of the people who inhabited it in order to put historical eras and events into context for visitors. Covering everything from the Mohican Indians and abolition to to The New York Evening Post, visits to western Massachusetts’ historic homes are a fantastic way for families with children of all ages to learn and explore together.

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Questing in Western Massachusetts

Become a Quest Detective with The Trustees of Reservations

Now back through the stile, leave the cows inside.
Round the Cobble clockwise, the vernal pool hides.
Then we begin our first brief ascent,
To the junction then make a quick descent…

The Trustees of Reservations offer a number of quests for locations statewide, three of which are for western Massachusetts reservations!

Though it sounds a bit like a nature riddle, this excerpt is part of a Trustees of Reservations quest for Bartholomew’s Cobble, a beautiful and historic site in Sheffield. What’s a quest? In simple terms, it’s a guided journey. In more complicated terms, a quest is an adventure, lead not by a human guide but by a somewhat cryptic and cleverly written set of instructions – the goal of which is to not only reach a specific destination but to explore and examine the fascinating features (big and small) of a site. Popular worldwide, questing is a great way to learn about history (both natural and human), biology, ecology, and geology, and offers families a unique way of interacting with their surroundings.

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Glendale Falls Gets a Trail Makeover For Families to Hike!

Trustees of Reservation Property Awarded Grant
Glendale Falls in Middlefield, MA

Exciting News for the Hilltowns! The Trustees of Reservations was awarded a Mass trails grant for the One Step at a Time Down Glendale Falls Project. It has been four years since a National Wild & Scenic Westfield River volunteer in the  Walkin’ the Watershed program noticed a need for a clearer and safer route to the bottom of the stunning TOR Glendale Falls property in Middlefield MA. Many wonderful community members donated funds for simple wooden steps and countless volunteers came out to help install them.


“The areas that were too steep or lacked sufficient soil to place the steps were put on hold until we were able to secure funding for Master trail builder Peter Jensen to bring his crew in to create a low maintenance stone stair trail,” writes Volunteer Coordinator, Meredyth Babcock. “Over 70 stone steps and cribbing are planned. This exciting work will be happening during the month of October, 2012. We are still looking housing close to or at Glendale Falls. Do you have a large RV that you would donate to the cause for the month? We have a small budget for housing and would love to discuss the possibilities that I’m sure are out there!! Would you like to sign up to bring goodies and support the hard working crew?”


If you plan to enjoy the falls this fall, do so this week as they will be closed for the month of October due to the flying rocks!! Meredyth will be posting updates on their Facebook page where she will also be posting their opening celebration once completed.

If you’d like to help the Wild & Scenic in other ways call Meredyth Babcock at 413-623-2070. The best ideas come from you who know and love the river so well!

Notchview Opens for the 2011-2012 Season

Season Begins at Notchview!

The Trustees write, "With more than 3,000 acres of rolling terrain, Notchview offers an idyllic escape for winter sport enthusiasts, especially cross-country skiers looking for a brisk outing. Seventeen kilometers of trails are groomed and track-set for classical cross-country skiing; eight kilometers are groomed for skate skiing. A separate trail system is groomed for “skijoring,” or skiing with dogs. You can also go off track and explore the backcountry, or snowshoe alongside the ski trails." (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Though the ground is still snow-free, the winter outdoor activity season is beginning!  The Trustees of Reservations’ Notchview in Windsor, MA opened for the season on December 5th, and there are all sorts of outdoor adventures to be had this winter!

There’s a youth ski league where kids can have fun learning fundamental ski skills on Sunday, Mar. 4th, 2012, and aspiring nordic skiiers of all ages can take lessons, too on Saturday, Dec. 24th!

Skiing enthusiasts can share their love of the sport with others by volunteering as a Ski Ambassador, and if you’re interested in safety you can train to be part of the ski patrol. A winter volunteer orientation and training will take place on Thursday, Dec. 15th from 7-8:30pm for all those interested.

Skiing is great exercise and learning to ski is a way to ensure that you enjoy the outdoors year-round!  It’s a skill your kids will have and enjoy for their whole lives.  For more information, call Notchview at 413-684-0148 or visit www.thetrustees.org.

To enter to win we are inviting our readers to share with us ways they enjoy participating in community life during the winter months in Western MA. Click on the banner to find out how to enter to win!

In an effort to encourage active participation in community life and appreciation for local landscape, Hilltown Families and the Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) have partnered up to offer our readers a chance to win a yearlong family membership to The Trustees for 2012 plus two adult stickers for cross-country skiing at Notchview in Windsor for the 2011-12 season (minors ski for free with adults). Click on the banner for details.

ENTER TO WIN: Family Membership to The Trustees & Cross-Country Skiing Season Passes at Notchview

Enter to win…

Family Yearlong Membership to the Trustees of Reservations and a Family Pass for Cross-Country Skiing at Notchview in Windsor for 2011-12 Season!

Enter to win a Family Yearlong Membership to the Trustees of Reservations and a Family Pass for Cross-Country Skiing at Notchview in Windsor this winter! Deadline to enter to win: 12/24/11 @ 12midnight (EST). Details below. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Western MA is a beautiful place to visit and explore all year long.  With winter coming and snow sure to fall, many families will be looking to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing as ways to get outside and enjoy the snowy backwoods and trails in the region.

In an effort to encourage active participation in community life and appreciation for local landscape, Hilltown Families and the Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) have partnered up to offer our readers a chance to win a yearlong family membership to The Trustees for 2012 plus two adult stickers for cross-country skiing at Notchview in Windsor for the 2011-12 season (minors ski for free with adults).

To enter to win we are inviting our readers to share with us ways they enjoy participating in community life during the winter months in Western MA. Details on how to enter to win are below.  But first we want to tell you more about what a membership to the Trustees of Reservations will afford your family, and all about nordic skiing at Notchview!


A yearlong family membership to the Trustees of Reservations, the nation’s oldest statewide land conservation organization, will support your family’s outdoor adventures all year long. With 13 properties in the Pioneer Valley alone, some of the local treasures your family can enjoy include Land of Providence, Dinosaur Footprints and Mt. Tom in Holyoke, Chesterfield Gorge and Peaked Mountain.

A family membership ($67 value) includes:

  • Free/reduced, year-round admission to 106 Trustees stunning reservations located in 73 communities across Massachusetts, such as Notchview in Windsor, the Bryant Homestead in Cummington, Land of Providence and Dinosaur Footprints in Holyoke and beyond the Pioneer Valley and Hilltowns such as Crane Beach in Ipswich, World’s End in Hingham, the Old Manse in Concord, Doyle Community Park and Center in Leominster, Bartholomew’s Cobble in Tyringham, and Cape Poge on Martha’s Vineyard.
  • Discounts on stays at Trustees Bed & Breakfasts (The Inn at Castle Hill in Ipswich and the Guest House at FieldFarm in Williamstown)
  • Discounted fees for the hundreds of events, programs, lectures, summer camps and workshops offered by The Trustees year-round for all ages
  • The Trustees Property Guide, a 224-page guidebook to the organization’s 100-plus reservations—available exclusively to members
  • A year’s subscription to The Trustees quarterly member magazine, Special Places, which will keep you up to date on topics such as conservation, the natural world, history and culture across Massachusetts

The Colonel Arthur D. Budd Visitor Center is open year-round at Notchview in Windsor, MA. Facilities include public restrooms, and two trail shelters, open year round. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)


One of Massachusetts’ premier cross-country skiing centers – drawing an average of 10,000 skiers to its 19 miles of groomed, track-set and backcountry ski trails each winter – Notchview is also popular among ski skating and snowshoe enthusiasts, as well as year-round hikers and walkers. With a current Trustees’ membership, and a 2011– 12 ski pass ($45 per adult), Nordic skiers can ski free all day, every day, all winter long. Ski pass stickers for adult members also admit children under 18 in addition to the sticker holder.

Notchview is one of the only independent, all-Nordic ski areas still thriving in the region. Boasting an active all-volunteer Ski Patrol Program, Notchview regularly hosts youth, high school, college, and masters ski races throughout the season, including the annual Massachusetts High School Nordic championships and the New England Bill Koch Youth Ski Festival, which is held every four years.

The Colonel Arthur D. Budd Visitor Center is open year-round. Facilities include public restrooms and two trail shelters, open year round. For more information about Notchview, visit www.thetrustees.org or call 413-684-0148.

Chesterfield Gorge in West Chesterfield (left), and Chapel Falls in Ashfield (right), are just two of the 106 reservations sure to delight your family!


The Trustees work to promote healthy, active, and green communities locally across Massachusetts by providing hundreds of year-round programs, events and engagement opportunities for all ages. Since 2001, The Trustees have been building a stronger conservation presence in the Pioneer Valley region with educational and grassroots community outreach programs and the pursuit of significant land conservation opportunities. Currently, The Trustees own and manage 13 spectacular properties in the Pioneer Valley, and 106 reservations located in 73 communities across Massachusetts . In addition, the Trustees locally operate the Highland Communities Initiative (HCI), a program created to protect the natural and cultural character of 38 rural hilltowns located between the Connecticut and Housatonic Rivers. HCI recently affiliated with the Hilltown Land Trust (HLT), and both organizations are now headquartered in the recently renovated Bullitt Reservation farmhouse, (formerly the Ashfield Town Poor Farm), which recently underwent a deep energy retrofit and boasts many sustainable building features. To find out more about The Trustees, visit www.thetrustees.org (they’re on Facebook too);  and for the HCI and HLT, visit www.highlandcommunities.org.


Your chance to win a yearlong family membership to The Trustees for 2012 plus two adult stickers for cross-country skiing at Notchview in Windsor for the 2011-12 season (minors ski for free with adults) is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)! Valued together is over $150!

To enter to win simply:

  2. FULL NAME and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE), Must include your town to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL IN THE EMAIL FIELD BELOW (we never share your email address with a third party).
  5. CONSIDER SHARING THIS POST ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER by selecting the icons below.
  6. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Saturday, 12/24/11 @ 12Midnight (EST).

A family or individual membership to The Trustees of Reservations would make a great holiday gift! For more information visit www.thetrustees.org… and while you’re at it, “Like” them on Facebook too!

Rally for the Highland Communities in Ashfield

Rally for the Highland Communities:
A Call to Action with Tom Wessels in Ashfield

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Mark Wamsley of the Highland Communities Initiative writes:

Generations of residents have shaped the Highlands– stone by stone, farm by farm, and trail by trail. What role can you and your family play in its future? The Highland Communities Initiative invites you to rally for our region at the Bullitt Reservation (332 Bullitt Rd.) in Ashfield on Saturday, September 17th from 9AM to 2PM. Come and celebrate the towns we call home, deepen your community connections, learn new ways of protecting the special places that you care about…and have fun doing it!

We’re calling the rally  “a really fun conference, or a country fair with an important purpose.”  We’ll kick things off with a keynote speech by ecologist Tom Wessels.  Already noted for his keen eye on New England’s rural past, this time Tom will offer insights on the road ahead, illuminating lessons the natural world holds for creating resilient communities and economies.

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Afterward, those looking to lend a hand can connect with the many local groups showcasing their work at the rally (including Hilltown Families), hear inspiring stories of communities uniting together, or learn more about the positive steps you can take on their own property.  Free consultations with home energy or land conservation experts will be available, but sign up early!  If you’re just looking to revel in the sun on a beautiful (hopefully!) fall day, fun, family-friendly activities and demonstrations will abound as you explore the vibrant farm landscape at the Bullitt Reservation.

Activities perfect for families include:

  • 10:30-12:30—Planting For Fall in the Demonstration Kitchen Garden (Kid Friendly)
    Join School Sprouts, an educational gardening organization in harvesting the Bullitt garden’s crops and preparing the beds for fall.  We’ll harvest our heritage wheat grains, build a hoop house, plant frost-tolerant plants, and mulch the beds for the winter.
  • 10:45 and 11:30—Find the Invader!  (Kid Friendly)
    This fun treasure hunt will teach kids how to identify troublesome plant and insect invader in their local landscapes.
  • (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Anytime—Pebble Discovery Hike (Kid Friendly)
    Take a moderate, ¾ mile hike to the giant  “Pebble.”  Sit on the bench at the top of the field and enjoy the view of Mount Owen.  Or, take the self-guided Discovery Hike and find signs of ancient glaciers and recent wildlife.

  • For the complete rally schedule, click HERE.

Guests may bring their own lunches or purchase one at the rally offered by Elmer’s General Store, Pre-registration is encouraged and some consultations have limited space. For more information and to pre-register call 413-628-4485 or email mwamsley@ttor.org. We hope to see you there!

– Mark Wamsley, Program & Outreach Coordinator, Highland Communities Initiative, The Trustees of Reservations

Saturday, September 17, 2011 | 9AM-2PM | TTOR Members and Children under 12: FREE. Nonmembers: Adult $5. Bullitt Reservation, 332 Bullitt Rd. Ashfield, MA 413-628-4485

History Comes Alive in the Hilltowns for Bryant Day

Bryant Day Celebration in Cummington
Saturday, July 16th from 7am-4pm

Cynthia Sommer from The Trustees of Reservation writes:

The fourth annual Bryant Day, held at the Bryant Homestead in Cummington, MA, is scheduled for July 16 from 7 AM to 4 PM, adding another year to the tradition of celebrating William Cullen Bryant, the famous 19th century poet, newspaper editor, and conservationist, and his passion for the art of the word. The first Bryant Day was celebrated in 1894 on the 100th anniversary of Bryant’s birth and hundreds spent the day listening to poetry, music, and speeches.

This July 16th event will capture the same spirit of the first celebration. Former Poet Laureate and Cummington resident, Richard Wilbur, will be reading from his new volume, Anterooms, and other selected poetry. Nancy Childs will begin the day with a guided nature walk in search of plants and birds that inspired Bryant’s poetry. In the afternoon, festivities kick off with music from Steve Bushway and Max Cohen, playing violin and fiddle music. All are encouraged to bring a picnic, sit on the Homestead lawn, and relax with the music. This year’s lecture will be by Ed Faits and Dan Carnevale of Arunah Hill Natural Science Center and entitled Topics in Astronomy. Following the lecture Prakasa Yoga studio will provide an introduction and demonstration of Anusara yoga. To wrap up the day, Arunah Hill will return for a moon viewing by telescope at the Bryant Homestead beginning at 9 PM.

Tours will include an art exhibition inspired by Bryant’s poem, “A Summer Ramble,” sponsored by the Sohn Fine Art Gallery of Stockbridge. Refreshments will be sold by the Chesterfield Grange and the Bryant Homestead Committee will provide free popcorn and hand-cranked ice cream. Admission is $6/car for non-Trustees members.

Additionally, there will be a special exhibit at the Bryant Free Library and the Cummington Old Creamery Grocery will be offering Bryant Day specials. Special tours of the Homestead are scheduled from 12 – 1 PM and again from 3 – 4 PM. Feel free to explore the property, once the country estate of William Cullen Bryant, and now one of more than 100 special places managed by The Trustees of Reservations. The complete schedule is found at www.thetrustees.org. Information may also be obtained by calling 413-532-1631 x13.

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TAKE ACTION: Community Preservation in Massachusetts

The Trustees of Reservations writes:

In the closing days of the 2010 Legislative session, we need your help to push SB 90 across the finish line. This bill will ensure that the Community Preservation Act (CPA) remains an essential and effective tool for communities that wish to enhance affordable housing, historic preservation, and natural resource and open space protection! The bill would stabilize state matching funds for CPA projects and would clarify the definitions of projects that qualify for CPA funding.

What needs to be done? Contact House Speaker Robert DeLeo and urge that SB 90 be approved. Urge your local Representative to contact Speaker DeLeo in support of SB 90. Write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper, and email a copy to us. Let us know about any conversations you have with your Representative or his/her staff.

How to do it. Use the talking points below. Use Please pass SB 90 to sustain CPA as the subject line of your email message or letter – this will help the Representatives to keep track of how many constituents support this measure. If you write to or email Speaker DeLeo, send a copy to your local Representative.

Talking points:

  • Identify yourself and your Town. If your Town has passed CPA, describe how funds have benefited your community and the projects initiated and/or completed.
  • Passage of SB 90 would assist local communities in pursuing projects of their choice, with no impact on a tight state budget.
  • Since its passage in 2000, the CPA has created jobs and affordable homes and has helped to protect the Massachusetts landscape, which is so important to our tourism industry and local agriculture.
  • Statewide, CPA has created more than 3100 units of affordable housing since its passage, and has produced more than 610 construction jobs annually.
  • CPA has protected 11,377 acres of agricultural land and open space and created more than 500 recreational facilities.
  • More than 1600 historic sites and resources have been preserved or rehabilitated, producing $165 million for local jobs.

For more information about the Community Preservation Act and SB 90, click here.

Thank you for speaking up for community preservation in Massachusetts.

The Future of the Highlands is in Good Hands … Yours!

Highland Communities Initiative’s 5th Conference
Celebrates People’s Place in Protecting
Our Region’s Rural Nature

On September 12th in Ashfield, MA, friends and neighbors from across the region are invited to the Highland Communities Initiative’s (HCI) fifth biennial conference to celebrate the Highland’s rural nature and to share ideas from area residents that may hold the keys to its future.

A program of The Trustees of Reservations, HCI supports and connects the people that are working to maintain the rural character and quality of life in the 38 small towns of the Highlands.  The Highlands region lies west of the Connecticut River Valley, stretching from the Vermont to the Connecticut borders and is home to only 43,000 people and 3 stoplights. The region contains a remarkable abundance of intact natural areas, pristine river systems, historic towns, and working farms. Together with the region’s rich tradition of agriculture and forest stewardship, this landscape imparts a sense of place in seldom found in Massachusetts.

The impact that one individual can have in rural region like the Highlands is personified by Laurie Sanders, keynote speaker at this year’s conference. Host of the WFCR radio program Field Notes, Laurie helped spearhead a community effort to build a new library, convert an historic property to town offices, and preserve two acres of common space in her hometown of Westhampton, MA.

Conference participants will also be able to find inspiration, information and lively discussion in ten different workshops held throughout Ashfield center, including:  Read the rest of this entry »

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