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Westborough Land Trust NEWS
Fall 2014

Read About . . .

Kate Donaghue Receives WCLT President’s Award for Membership Drives

The President’s Award of the WCLT [MORE]

Al Sanborn Receives WCLT President’s Award for
Keeping Trails User-friendly

Al Sanborn received the President’s Award [MORE]

WCLT’s Pepper Award Honors Marty Newark
for Bluebird Conservation Work

WCLT gave the Pepper Award to Marty Newark [MORE]

Tending and Mending the Wild at Tufts Wildlife Clinic

Dr. Mark Pokras of the Wildlife Clinic at Tufts [MORE]

New Faces on the Board

Meet The New Directors [MORE]

Stewardship News:

Work Continues at Gilmore Pond [MORE]

Kate Donaghue Receives WCLT President’s Award
for Membership Drives

The President’s Award of the WCLT

The President’s Award of the Westborough Community Land Trust (WCLT) recognizes a member who has given exemplary service to the land trust. In June 2014, member Kate Donaghue received the President’s Award for her work in organizing and running membership drives for WCLT – both the original drive in 1998 and WCLT’s second drive earlier this year. The 2014 membership drive brought WCLT 67 new memberships, representing an increase of 25 percent, and raised more than $3,900. Like so many WCLT members, Kate first grew to love the outdoors in childhood. Here Kate recounts how this childhood love led to her extensive volunteer work as an adult in the organizational aspects of land protection.

A love of the outdoors has been a central part of my life since I was a child. My first hikes were in the neighborhood woods. As a family we hiked in the Blue Hills and chased blazes up the hills. In college I joined the Outing Club, spending my college days canoeing, caving, camping, and especially hiking. My husband and I met on a hiking trip in college, and as young adults we spent weekends and vacations hiking and backpacking in the White and Green Mountains. We were young and strong and loved the mountains. As we grew older we wanted to “give back” and became involved in trail maintenance. Weekends of hiking were now interspersed with clearing trails and building shelters.

We quickly saw the need for people to be involved in the organizational side of the hiking community. This led to a close relationship with Vermont’s Green Mountain Club, the maintainer and protector of the Long Trail. Over the last thirty years, my husband and I have been actively involved with an ongoing project that has led to the permanent protection of most of the Long Trail and has protected some 23,000 acres of land in Vermont. At the same time, we have been involved with increasing membership, raising money, and many other volunteer activities with the Green Mountain Club.

When I was first asked to attend a meeting of people interested in protecting open space here in Westborough, I was quite excited. I recall those early days as we worked to grow the membership and bring together local people interested in the outdoors. Our original “canvas bag” membership drive brought in the people who have been the core of the Westborough Community Land Trust from its inception until now.

I recall the board meeting at which a Westborough trail system was proposed. One of the board members suggested that we call the trail the Charm Bracelet as it would tie together the open space “charms” of Westborough. The Charm Bracelet is now an on-the-ground reality.

Over the years, I have enjoyed backpacking in areas of open space as far as the eye can see. I have the opportunity to walk out my front door here in Westborough and enjoy the WCLT trail system. The respite provided by the outdoors, both large and small, rejuvenates me, as do the many friendships I have formed working in the woods.

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Al Sanborn Receives WCLT President’s Award for Keeping Trails User-friendly

Al Sanborn received the President’s Award

Al Sanborn leading a canoe trip in the Adirondacks for the Appalachian Mountain Club. More locally, he has led canoe trips up the Sudbury River from Fruit Street to Cedar Swamp Pond in Westborough.

At the Westborough Community Land Trust’s (WCLT) June 2014 annual meeting, member Al Sanborn received the President’s Award for his tireless work in trail maintenance – as Al puts it, “keeping the trails user-friendly.” Al also served as a founding director of WCLT. He spoke the following words about his gratitude for the outdoor life he has lived and for the award.

I have so much to be thankful for!
With the last of our four “kids” graduating from college, Elaine and I re-located here in New England, where there are lots of rivers and mountains. That was in 1979, and that was the beginning of our love affair with the Great Outdoors. Within months we took up whitewater canoeing, and quickly became hooked!.

  • We have paddled just about every river in New England, about half of them starting each February or March when the ice went out!
  • We’ve gone on whitewater canoe camping excursions in Canada, the Northeast US, the Southeast, Southwest, Northwest, and Costa Rica.

Now let’s shift from the rivers to the mountains.
My first mountain-climbing experience was Mount Washington in March, 1952, in a 60-mph whiteout blizzard. Naturally, I was thoroughly hooked! Since then I’ve spent many happy days in those mountains.

  • On my 60th birthday I stood on top of Mt. Adams (5,800 feet) at zero degrees with 100 mph winds, steady!
  • In 1990 (age 61) I hiked the entire 2,146 miles of the Appalachian Trail, while Elaine supported me the entire way!
  • At age 70 I stood on the summit of Ayers Rock (aka “Uluru”), in Australia.

These are all precious moments in my memory bank.

And now let’s switch to the “Conservation Phase” of my life.
When I retired in 1988, I took a part-time job with Sudbury Valley Trustees, managing the Walkup Reservation. That job expanded over the years to include a total of 251 acres of preserved land. I also became involved with the Westborough Community Land Trust and, later, the Grafton Land Trust.

  • At age 75, I retired from the Sudbury Valley Trustees job, and that allows me to spend more time on Westborough and Grafton trails.
  • At age 85, I hope to be allowed to continue doing my favorite activities for years to come: keeping those trails user-friendly. I am so lucky!

Please understand these stories that may sound like bragging are simply the essence of my life and represent who I am. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how impressed I am by the accomplishments of WCLT!

My involvement with WCLT has been a huge blessing for me; I am just so thankful that the opportunity was there and my health has allowed me to do the things that I truly love to do!

For the entire Great Outdoors and, especially, for the recognition bestowed on me, I am immensely grateful.

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WCLT’s Pepper Award Honors Marty Newark for Bluebird Conservation Work

WCLT gave the Pepper Award to Marty Newark


In June, the Westborough Community Land Trust (WCLT) gave the Pepper Award to long-time Westborough resident Marty Newark for his bluebird conservation work in Westborough over many years. WCLT’s Ellie and Jack Pepper Award recognizes an individual in the community who has done outstanding work in conservation.

Earlier this year, just prior to Mary’s 90th birthday, Boy Scout Eagle candidate Matthew Buffo and his team of Scouts built and installed 42 bluebird nest boxes to complete Marty’s dream of erecting a total of 100 nest boxes in Westborough, in honor of Westborough as the 100th town to be incorporated in Massachusetts in 1717 (a 300-year anniversary to be celebrated in 2017). The photo shows Matthew and Marty installing the 100th bluebird box on June 9, 2014. Marty developed his love of the outdoors – and bluebirds – as a boy growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., as he described in his own words when he introduced himself in his column, “Ask Marty about Bluebirds,” which ran in the Westborough News in 2009-2010.

Boy from the city . . .
Let’s say I have a “past” . . . not the kind to be ashamed of, but it is mine and I would never think of altering it. When I was growing up in the middle of Brooklyn, N.Y. (no zip codes back then), in order to get somewhere, 5 cents could get you to the end of the line . . . but that was still in the city. Summers were something else – for two months it was “Barefoot Boy with Cheeks of Tan.” (At the end of the summer, the other cheeks were whiter than snow.) The bungalow is gone now that was built by my family on the salt marsh meadows of Hook Creek at the head of Jamaica Bay, only ten miles by flivver or trolley. Boy, I took to that place like a baby sea-turtle just hatched and headed for the ocean!

Nature surrounded me with sights and sounds that echo in my dreams to this day. Between swimming when the tide came in and crabbing in my “dinky” boat when tide went out, I was one happy kid! Morning brought the song of the meadow lark and afternoons the trill of the marsh wren. Mud hens made tracks chasing fiddlers or hunkered down trying not to be seen. There was no tomorrow – summers lasted forever. Well, I guess that reaffirms “you CAN take the boy out of the city but you CAN’T take the city out of the boy.” So there you have it . . . I am this person named Martin . . . a collection of all I’ve been through, including a war that makes me feel thankful to be alive!.

Now, you ask me, “But how did you get into bluebirds?” I guess there is a connection between seeing my first bluebird at sixteen in New Egypt, N.J. Outside the one-room house built for my parents’ retirement was a peach tree my father and I planted. It was spring, and the most beautiful bluebird I had ever seen landed on it! Well, fast forward to my own retirement when the sighting of a bluebird was a rarity. Once plentiful, the species was decimated and facing extinction. Loss of habitat, DDT use, and lack of nesting cavities combined to “do them in.” How could I not get involved? So there you have it, and now I am addicted.

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Tending and Mending the Wild at Tufts Wildlife Clinic

Dr. Mark Pokras of the Wildlife Clinic at Tufts

Mark Pokras with Girl Scouts at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic.

With compassion and humor that kept the audience smiling, veterinarian Dr. Mark Pokras of the Wildlife Clinic at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton spoke at WCLT’s annual meeting in June about cases that come to the Wildlife Clinic and how they reflect local environmental issues. Mark is a Westborough resident and WCLT member.

Noting that the Wildlife Clinic had received 210 phone calls on a recent Friday in June, Mark observed that some of the Clinic’s work is environmental education for the public, rather than conservation medicine. He reported that two-thirds of that Friday’s calls concerned baby animals that the callers believed to be orphaned. He reassured the audience that most of these young animals were not actually in trouble. For example, young birds typically leave the nest a week or two before they can fly well, and the parents continue to feed and care for them. It’s best for people to leave these birds where they find them, but if a baby bird is out of the nest and in harm’s way, it’s okay to move it to a safer, more protected location nearby.

“It’s not true that the mother won’t accept a baby bird if a human touches it,” Mark said, addressing a common misconception.

In August-September, people often worry about birds that look bald when they appear at bird feeders. Mark pointed out that for the majority of the birds, this appearance is not an illness. “It’s the seasonal molt – growing a new set of feathers and losing the old ones.”

What should you do if animals nest in your chimney? “Don’t light a fire – call animal control,” Mark advises. Raccoons, hooded mergansers, screech owls, and wood ducks all normally nest in hollow trees but sometimes mistakenly nest in chimneys or wood stove pipes. And there are chimney swifts, birds that normally nest in uncapped chimneys when they are here for the summer. Chimney swifts are in trouble as a species, due to pollutants, capped chimneys that prevent them from nesting, and their arduous migration flights to and from Brazil.

When it comes to practicing medicine on injured animals, Mark reported that most traumatic injuries to wildlife are inadvertently caused by people. Harm comes to wild animals from our system of roadways, our windows, and our many artificial plastic items that are hazardous to animals.

The Clinic typically sees a lot of turtles that have been hit by cars, especially on rainy spring nights when the ground is soft and female turtles are looking to dig holes where they lay can their eggs. Mark explained that the shell is part of a turtle’s skeletal system and said that the Clinic repairs the injured turtles’ shells whenever possible. If the mother can’t be saved, the Clinic incubates the eggs that were inside her body, making sure that the young are released in appropriate habitats after they hatch.

Besides turtles, the Clinic treats many other animals that have been hit by cars, including raccoons and red-tailed hawks, and even an eagle, a bear, and a bobcat.

Birds are often injured or killed when they fly into windows, misled by reflections. To minimize the risk, Mark suggests placing bird feeders “either quite close to a window, or far away.” He also noted that there are now special architectural designs for windows to help prevent bird strikes.

Artificial plastic items that don’t readily degrade in the environment are another human-made hazard to wildlife. Plastic six-pack containers can harm marine mammals and sea turtles. Plastic fishing line and gill nets entangle animals, such as a common loon that recently got tangled in fishing line on Wachusett Reservoir and starved. Every year the Clinic sees a number of owls that have been caught in soccer nets.

“Recycle – keep the plastic out of the environment,” Mark said, “and fold or roll up soccer nets when not in use.” Toxins that humans put into the environment are another source of trouble for wildlife. Rat poison, for example, takes hours or days to kill a mouse or rat. In the meantime, the dying and confused animal wanders out of the house or garage and is eventually eaten by foxes, owls, hawks, or eagles, which in turn are poisoned. The result is the loss of wild predators that are far better at controlling rats and mice than poison is.

For example, Mark noted, one red-tailed hawk eats about 4 mice per day. That means a pair of hawks eats 2,920 mice a year (8 mice x 365 days = 2,920). A family with 3 chicks will eat 9,800 mice per year. “Don’t poison the mice that then poison the red-tails,” Mark advised. Instead of poisoning mice, he suggests trapping them and “putting them out for the foxes.”

Lead in the environment also poisons animals. A significant number of road-killed deer have lead in their bodies from being shot in the past, Mark reported, and this lead gets into bald eagles and other scavengers that feed on the road kill.

Mark’s research includes common loons, which swallow fishing gear. Their stomach acid then dissolves the fishing sinkers and jigs, releasing lead that poisons the bird. The remedy involves switching to copper and other metals for bullets and iron, tungsten or other metals for fishing gear, and using nontoxic shot for hunting waterfowl or skeet and trap shooting.

Humans can reverse the problems they cause. Mark cited the examples of bald eagles, osprey, and other birds of prey whose populations are rebounding now that DDT is disappearing from the U.S. environment after being banned in the 1970s.

Mark suggested that it’s in people’s best interest to pay attention to the problems that affect animals because wildlife can serve as sentinels that warn of environmental problems that can potentially affect humans. For example, X-rays and necropsies of local great blue herons have revealed abnormal fat in their bodies, indicating a possible new disease (steatitis) that may be caused by water pollution and toxins from an overgrowth of algae.

Another example is cancer in wild animals. “Any living thing can get cancer,” Mark said, “and when we start seeing it in many animals, maybe the problem is in our shared environment.”

What can ordinary people do to help wildlife and the environment?

“Live greener,” Mark suggested. “Reduce water use and energy use, and decrease lawns. Plant for wildlife, using native species. Take part in citizen science, such as feeder-watch projects and vernal pool studies, to provide data for science. And pass environmental awareness and knowledge on to young people – the next generations.”

Did you miss Mark’s annual meeting talk? A video of it is available on demand from Westborough TV (the public channel, Verizon 24 or Charter 11). Westborough TV also ran this video in its August programming and will show it again in the future. Click here to watch the video.

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New Faces on the Board

Meet The New Directors

WCLT members elected four new directors to the board at the June 2014 annual meeting. They are Vince Aquilino, Bridget Behringer, Neil Feldman, and Adam Last.

Vince Aquilino

Vince Aquilino is a retired program analyst for the General Services Administration in Washington, D.C., where he managed the day-to-day operation of the federal government’s multi-billion dollar air travel program, including competitive procurement of travel services. Near the end of his thirty-year career, he met his wife, Dr. Sylvia Sirignano, at their 40th high school reunion, married her, and moved to Westborough six years ago.

An avid golfer, he can be found happily chasing after his golf ball as a member of the Westborough Country Club and is also a member of the Westborough Golf Course Operating Committee. A devoted amateur geologist, he is a member of the Worcester Mineral Club and loves to explore local road cuts, excavations, and open spaces for geologic formations of interest. Vince is an accomplished bass/baritone, currently singing with the Mastersingers of Worcester. He has sung with the National Wagner Society and Westborough Community Chorus.

Vince received a B.S. in recreation administration from the University of Memphis in 1970 and a M.S. in urban affairs and policy analysis from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, in 1978. He looks forward to combining his formal training with his genuine love for the outdoors as a board member of the Westborough Community Land Trust.

Bridget Behringer

Bridget Behringer was introduced to the town of Westborough in 1990 when she began her professional career at AstraZeneca, an international pharmaceutical company. She liked the town so much she decided to make it her home in 2003.

Bridget is an active outdoor enthusiast and enjoys nature. She has hiked all 48 New Hampshire 4,000-foot mountains, enjoys kayaking on the local lakes, and has recently picked up both rock and ice climbing. She has traveled extensively around the world to places such as New Zealand, Nepal, Peru, the Canadian Rockies, and throughout the United States on many backcountry hiking expeditions. Bridget also appreciates the various trails around Westborough and has a strong desire to preserve its wilderness.

Over the last 15 years, Bridget has been an active member of many conservation groups, such as Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Mass Audubon, Mount Washington Observatory, The Trustees of Reservations, Appalachian Mountain Club, and Westborough Community Land Trust. Since 2009, Bridget has been an information volunteer with the Appalachian Mountain Club to aid hikers with necessary knowledge (trail, weather, safety) during their backcountry hut experiences.

Bridget is the business relationship manager for neuroscience and works out of AstraZeneca’s Cambridge office. She has her B.A. from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and M.B.A. from Boston University.

Neil Feldman

Neil Feldman has been a resident of Westborough for 18 years. He, his wife, and his children (Ben, 16 and Grete, 13), and their dog (Sirius Lee) have been long-time users of the land that WCLT preserves and maintains, especially the Libbey property, out their back door, and Gilmore Pond, just up the street. They have taken part in several trail clean-ups.

Neil is an IT director for American Tower in Marlborough and previously worked for Abt Associates and EMC in similar positions. He has volunteered as a soccer coach, and in the schools as a math enrichment teacher and in the music program. He is currently serving as treasurer of the Westborough Fine Arts Education Association and as New England college fair coordinator for his alma mater. He has previously served as director, treasurer, and VP of finance and administration of Congregation B’nai Shalom and as treasurer of the Fay Mountain Association. Neil is looking forward to becoming more involved with the WCLT and serving on the board.

Adam J. Last

Adam joined the Westborough Community Land Trust board in fall 2013 to fill a position that was unexpectedly vacated. He was elected to a standard three-year term in June 2014. A member of WCLT for several years, he lives in Westborough with his wife and six children, ages 3 - 12 years.

Adam has worked in the environmental consulting field since 1991. He is a regional manager for Corporate Environmental Advisors (CEA) environmental consulting practice. He is a professional engineer and licensed site professional. His degrees include an M.S. in environmental engineering (hazardous materials management focus) from Tufts University and a B.S. in civil and environmental engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.


Know Your Continuing Directors
Continuing board members include: Sue Abladian, Warren Anderson, Marjorie Fisher (re-elected for a second three-year term), Stephanie Garrett, David Jablon, John Metzger, Bob Nolan, Steve Rowell, Christopher Sasetti, Scott Shumway, Carolyn Spring, and Kelly Thomas (re-elected for a second three-year term).

Two Board Members Conclude Their Terms
Board members Mary Casey and Mark Fox concluded their terms, with many thanks for their leadership, wisdom, and efforts in advancing the work of WCLT.

Officers & Executive Committee Chosen for 2014-2015
The executive committee is elected annually and consists of the WCLT officers and two members-at-large selected from the board of directors.

Elected for 2014-2015 were:
President: Scott Shumway
Vice President: John Metzger
Secretary: Marge Fisher
Treasurer: Kelly Thomas
Assistant Treasurer: Steve Rowell
Member-at-Large: Robert Nolan
Member-at-Large: Warren Anderson

Thanks to the Nominating Committee
“I am very grateful to my fellow members of the nominating committee,” noted Warren Anderson, chair of the nominating committee. “Darcy Lane, Bob Nolan, Liz Lassen, and our advisor, Scott Shumway successfully recruited a strong pool of candidates, exceeding the number of vacant positions.”

Thanks to Warren as well!

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Stewardship News:

Work Continues at Gilmore Pond

New access road at Gilmore Pond

Work continues at Gilmore Pond on WCLT’s Upper Jackstraw Brook property, reports Marge Fisher, stewardship committee chair. For a trail map, click here.

Over the summer, two work sessions removed invasive honeysuckle and multiflora rose between the pond edge and the trail along the south and west sides of the pond.

On a rainy Saturday morning, October 11, there was a shrub-planting workday when Boy Scout Troop 100 helped the stewardship committee plant native shrubs along the rail fences between Quick Farm Road and the pond. Shrubs planted include cranberry and arrowwood viburnums, bayberry, winterberry, and pepperbush.

“This is the access road to the property,” Marge said, “and we plan to have it finished this fall: new stone fines will be laid down and ‘tackifier’ will be applied to hold it in place.”

Along with seven dads and one mom, a dozen members of Troop 100 got 22 shrubs planted in the rain in an hour and a half, Marge noted.  She said that the mom, Nancy Mazur (troop nurse), revived everyone at the last minute with hot chocolate and all the Munchkins Dunkin's had available. Troop fathers who contributed valiantly to the effort were David Buffo, who organized the troop to help WCLT, Brian O'Keefe, first and last on the scene, Scott Shumway, who insisted on Latin names for all the shrubs, Patrick Howarth, Keith Martin, Warren Anderson, and Ed Hastings.

Several scout projects are in the works, both Eagle projects from the Boy Scout troops and Gold and Silver Award projects from the Girl Scouts.

“We are ever grateful to the Boy Scouts for their interest and their considerable effort,” Marge commented, “and we are particularly excited to have the Girl Scouts working with us now. This is a new and very welcome development!”

Marge also noted a change in the stewardship committee:

“It is with equal parts love, sadness, and appreciation for Al Sanborn that we announce his ‘retirement’ from the stewardship committee,” she said. “Al is an original founder of WCLT and has worked long and hard, and reliably, maintaining trails. He kept a regular schedule of mowing, string trimming, chain sawing (as needed), and maintaining and transporting equipment in his van. There is no one person who could replace what he has done for WCLT and what he means to us all!”

If you are interested in finding out more about the work of the stewardship committee and its volunteer opportunities, please email stewardship@westboroughlandtrust.org.

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