Forestry Workshops Inspired Woodlot Owners and Woodworkers

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 11/22/2017 

Forestry Workshops Inspired Woodlot Owners and Woodworkers

In early November, Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) teamed up with Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust to offer two forestry workshops led by consulting forester Charlie Moreno. ‘Restoration of a Forest’ and ‘Wood: From Forest to Workbench’ showcased two Branch Hill Farm-owned properties in Milton where Moreno has worked to improve the long term quality of the forest through sustainable forestry practices. The Restoration Workshop was intended for woodlot owners, whereas the Forest to Workbench Workshop was aimed at woodworkers; several enthusiastic participants attended both.

Both workshops covered the economics of forest products — the costs of cutting, trucking and milling (different for hardwoods and softwoods) to prepare the tree products for market, and the potential value of timber from a poor quality stand up through an exceptional quality stand.  For example, high quality hardwood veneer logs can be worth 20 times as much as an equal volume of firewood.    

Participants learned how to size up a tree for its timber value. A high value tree is straight, sound, and limbless, so the boards have no knots.  For white pine, long log lengths are important. Special and valuable hardwood grains, or ‘figure’, such as ‘tiger maple’ or ‘curly maple’ are sometimes revealed after logs are milled into boards. Board footage can be estimated from the measured circumference and height of the tree, with adjustments for defects. The branches and treetop generally yield only low value products such as firewood, pulp, or chipwood.

Sustainable management is key to cultivating a high value timber stand over the long term, and insuring that the forest is regenerated.  A sustainably managed forest will be diverse in tree species and ages, including some mature high quality timber trees to propagate by seed. A forest that has been high-graded (all the best trees removed, sometimes repeatedly) will quickly lose both its timber value and resilience to disease or disturbance but can be coaxed back to health and quality timber with good forestry practices.

In the Jones Brook East forest, which had been severely high-graded before purchase by Branch Hill Farm, American beech had taken over and white pine was nearly absent in large areas. Although beech is valuable for wildlife and is used for lower value wood products such as dowels and firewood, a beech monoculture is unhealthy.  A lack of species diversity reduces forest value for both timber and wildlife habitat. Moreno showed Restoration Workshop attendees several steps being taken to restore this forest, including removal of beech in a biomass harvest, planting of thousands of white pine seedlings supplemented by natural regeneration, and successive forest stand improvement (FSI) treatments to ‘release’ desirable seedlings and saplings by cutting nearby beech. These FSI treatments allow critical light to penetrate through to the wanted young trees and stimulate their growth. If given such a chance, most trees will grow an inch in diameter every year. Experiments are also underway to determine the most effective and cost efficient means to slow beech regeneration by comparing various sapling cutting intervals in several beech thicket plots.

Forest to Workbench participants learned to identify the many hardwood species of trees that are the source of the types of wood they love to work with and to recognize the tree species of milled boards. They also learned about scaling logs and the meticulous process of air drying lumber after milling. Carefully stacked boards and slower air drying is crucial early on.

MMRG member Frank Frazier was one of those attending both workshops. Afterwards, Frank said, “I was very inspired by these workshops. My biggest take-away was the passion Charlie Moreno has to look at the forest and think not just 5 or 20 years but 1,000 years ahead and to start the process of putting the forest back into balance after 300 years of mankind’s heavy hand upon the land. And he gave some great practical info on how to maximize future revenues on the trees you have now, how to manage your woodlands not only for bio-diversity but also for growing trees that can become valuable veneer logs and saw logs down the road.”  

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. Throughout the year, MMRG offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info.  Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org.

 

Restoration of a Forest’ workshop attendees posed for a group photo with forester Charlie Moreno (third from left with white cup). Photo by Kari Lygren

Wood From Forest to Workbench’ taught workshop participants how to size up logs for their timber value. Photo by Kari Lygren

 

 

Two Forestry Workshops with Charlie Moreno

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

 

Two Forestry Workshops with Charlie Moreno

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (BHF/CSFCT) will offer two forestry workshops led by consulting forester Charlie Moreno. The first, ‘Restoration of a Forest’, has been re-scheduled for Saturday, November 4, from 10 am to 12 pm in the Jones Brook East forest of Branch Hill Farm in Milton. The second, ‘Wood: From Forest to Workbench’ will take place on Sunday, November 5 from 9 am to noon in Branch Hill Farm’s Branch River West forest on Plummers Ridge in Milton.

The Jones Brook East forest was severely ‘high–graded’ before BHF purchased it, meaning that nearly all the high value trees had been removed, a common problem in NH. In the Saturday Forest Restoration workshop, Moreno will show how various forestry practices implemented over the last nine years have begun to improve the forest’s health and its value for timber. He’ll also discuss the economics of doing nothing versus active restoration practices and talk about how to deal with the problem of beech taking over after high-grading. The workshop will entail less than a mile of walking with several stops for discussion, and is appropriate for woodlot owners, forestry students and professionals, and anyone interested in the health of our forests.

The Sunday Forest to Workbench workshop will be of interest to woodworkers and wood enthusiasts. Moreno’s goal is to make the connection between wood that woodworkers love to use for woodworking and the forests that it comes from, such as wood grown here in our own backyards of NH and Maine. He’ll walk participants through the sustainably-managed Branch River West forest, showing the high quality timber that can come from this mixed-age forest and how it is being grown for the future. He’ll talk about the products and values that come from trees, the common tree species and their wood qualities for use in different projects, and the process of milling and drying your own wood.

As a consulting forester, Charlie Moreno manages over 30,000 acres of forests for private landowners, conservation organizations, and communities in southern New Hampshire and Maine, including the forests of Branch Hill that are the sites for these workshops. In addition, he is a long-term hobbyist woodworker, learning ‘everything he knows’ at the Homestead Woodworking School in Newmarket. When speaking of his own woodworking, Moreno claims to just fool around. But he adds, “I love wood. For my projects, I never buy the wood. I always get the logs and cut them, dry them and use them to make something such as a piece of furniture. That way, I always know where a piece comes from.”

These workshops are free and open to the public but pre-registration is required. For more information and to register, please call MMRG’s Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at (603) 978-7125 or email info@mmrg.info. Please do not bring pets to these events.

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. Throughout the year, MMRG offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info.  Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org.

 

charlie in orange jacket birghtened

charlie in orange jacket birghtened

cherry tree cherry boards and cherry bureau in the making

cherry tree cherry boards and cherry bureau in the making

Charlie Moreno talking to workshop group (Kate Wilcox)

Charlie Moreno talking to workshop group (Kate Wilcox)

A Choice of Two Free Forestry Workshops in October

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 9/14/2017

A Choice of Two Free Forestry Workshops in October

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (BHF/CSFCT) are teaming up to offer two free outdoor forestry workshops. The first, ‘Attributes of a Northern Hardwood Forest on an Enriched Soil,’ from 9 am to 12 pm on Saturday, October 7, will be led by forester Dan Stepanauskas; the second, ‘Restoration of a Forest,’ will be taught by forester Charlie Moreno from 10 am to 12 pm on Saturday, October 21.

Daniel Stepanauskas has been a consulting forester in New Hampshire for well over thirty years.  He works on the sustainable management of private and municipal forest lands, using light-touch management techniques and imitating nature’s design to achieve the desired results. In his Hardwood Ecology workshop, Stepanauskas will take participants through hardwood forests owned by Branch Hill Farm in Wakefield and point out the wide array of bird and wildlife habitats in a mature hardwood stand and show how soils determine forest composition, soil chemistry and nutrient levels. He’ll discuss how to decide which sites to manage and what to preserve by using your mind’s eye to watch a forest grow. Implicit in that process is our understanding of the ability of different tree species to tolerate a changing climate. Stepanauskas also plans to talk about fungus and carbon sequestration, but nevertheless promises unlimited time for questions and discussion.

With over thirty years as consulting forester under his belt, Charlie Moreno has managed over 30,000 acres of forests for private landowners, conservation organizations, and communities in southern New Hampshire and Maine, including the forests of Branch Hill Farm and the BHF Jones Brook East forest site of this workshop. The Jones Brook forest was severely ‘high–graded’ before BHF purchased it, meaning that nearly all the high value trees had been removed, a common problem in NH. Moreno will show how various forestry practices implemented over the last nine years have begun to improve the forest’s health and its value for timber. He’ll also discuss the economics of doing nothing versus active restoration practices and talk about how to deal with the problem of beech taking over after high-grading. The workshop will entail less than a mile of walking with several stops for discussion, and is appropriate for woodlot owners, forestry students and professionals, and anyone interested in the health of our forests.

Both workshops are free and open to the public but pre-registration is required. For more information and to pre-register, please call MMRG’s Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at (603) 978-7125 or email info@mmrg.info.

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. Throughout the year, MMRG offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info.  Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org.

Charlie Moreno talking to workshop group (Kate Wilcox)

Dan Stepanauskas in the woods (David Levin)

Dan Stepanauskas with workshop participants (David Levin)

Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival was a day of fun and learning

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
(603)-817-8260
info@mmrg.info

Submitted: August 16, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival was a day of fun and learning

 
Close to 700 people joined in a multitude of activities celebrating our great outdoors as part of the 15th annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival in Milton Mills.  Presented by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm (BHF), this annual festival provides a day of fun, exploration and learning about nature for families, a crucial step in making sure the next generation appreciates and strives to conserve our region’s natural resources.

 

An informal poll of kids found that an overwhelming majority picked Nature’s Playground as kids could find a myriad of ways to play: swing on a rope, jump between log stumps, climb on a treehouse, walk along a fallen log, or pass through a giant twine spider web. Fishing in the Branch Hill Farm pond was another popular activity, with several children eager to report what fish they had caught. Instruction and poles were provided by NH Fish & Game volunteers.

 

Festival attendee Dorothy Smith also responded to the question about favorite events, “As an adult observing, I thought the best event was kids cutting the log because they were the most involved in that activity, and it’s something real that happens in the forest.” The log cutting event is called Tree Cookies; kids cut thin slices of a pine log, resembling cookies, using a two-person crosscut saw. Lots of kids were eager to try their hand at the saw under the watchful eye and help from a MMRG volunteer. The craft tent where they painted their ‘cookies’ was busy from the beginning to end of the day. Said volunteer coordinator Cheryl Giguere, “Kids did not want to leave this event!”

 

Building bee houses was another Festival craft activity with a purpose. Kids inserted straws, made of the hollow stems of Japanese knotweed, into soft clay at the bottom of a pot to create a place for our important native pollinators to nest. A similar project building bird houses was popular in previous years. The Moscaritolo kids from Massachusetts had made a bird house at the festival a few years back and now have tree swallows nesting in it every year. Said Paul Moscaritolo, “Now we’ll place the kids’ new bee houses next to some flowers and watch for bees using them.”

 

The lively fiddle and guitar tunes played by the York River Ramblers got several folks up and dancing, including Nancy Cole, who swayed around with her young grandson Silas in her arms.  At a music break, she enthused about the terrific apple grafting information she had learned at All About Apples by Jug Hill Cider Orchard, one of several new festival offerings. A new permaculture installation of winding paths among raised beds planted with heirloom vegetables was also well received. Here Comes the Sun brought solar energy to the festival for the first time and allowed people to charge their electronic devices with solar power. Alternative energy has long been a part of the WWW Festival, however, in the form of the Smoothie Bike. On this contraption, kids use leg power to blend frozen blueberries and other ingredients into a thick fruity drink, a ‘huge hit’ this year, according to Giguere.

 

As MMRG’s biggest annual outreach event, the WWW Festival also serves as a major fundraiser with proceeds supporting MMRG’s land conservation and outreach missions. MMRG is grateful to its festival underwriters, the Siemon Company and BHF/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust and to its major festival sponsors: Bruce and Jennifer Rich, Carl and Beth Siemon, DF Richard Energy, Frank Massin Agency, the Hays-Dombrower Family, Norman Vetter Poured Foundations, S&S Plumbing and Heating, and the Wyatt Family. Additional thanks to Beverly Siemon, Charlie Moreno Consulting Forester, Devonshire Realty, Dottie Bean, Eastern Boats, EOS Research, Gene Hays, Great East Lake Improvement Association, Liberty Mutual, MapleStone Farm, Milton Veterinary Clinic, New England Furniture, Profile Bank, Proulx Oil & Propane, and Wentworth Hunt.

 

Moose Mountains Regional Greenway is a non-profit land trust serving Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro (see www.mmrg.info). Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust is a private operating foundation (see www.branchhillfarm.org).

 

Kids intent on collecting specimens from Branch River (Photo: Kate Wilcox)

Girl stump hopping in Natures Playground (Photo: Kate Wilcox)

4H kids use crosscut log to saw tree cookie with volunteer Bill Malay helping (Photo: Kate Wilcox)

MMRG Unveiled its new Regional Conservation Plan: ‘Our Home, Our Land, Our Tomorrow’

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Date: 7/27/2017 

MMRG Unveiled its new Regional Conservation Plan: ‘Our Home, Our Land, Our Tomorrow’ 

After nearly a year of and conducting research and gathering input from community members and diverse stakeholders, Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) rolled out its new Regional Conservation Plan, ‘Our Home, Our Land, Our Tomorrow,’ at an evening meeting at the Pinckney Boathouse of Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro. The unveiling session brought together more than sixty people to hear Conservation Planner Dan Sundquist of Greenfire GIS and Community Planner Steve Whitman of Resilience Planning and Design, who undertook the conservation planning process at MMRG’s behest.

After a social hour, during which participants munched refreshments and looked over MMRG’s new regional conservation planning maps, Executive Director Patti  Connaughton-Burns kicked off the session with a reminder of MMRG’s continuing mission: ‘to identify and conserve important natural resource areas, including water resources, farm and forestlands, wildlife habitat, recreational areas, cultural and scenic areas; to educate others about these efforts, and to join protected lands to form greenways.’ Her observation that ‘we are the headwaters watershed of many of your lakes and streams’ underscored the significance of MMRG’s work even beyond the seven towns served by the organization (Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield and Wolfeboro).

An online survey about outdoor recreation and conservation priorities was one tool MMRG used to engage the community in the planning process. Steve Whitman reported that hiking was the most popular activity among respondents, along with other non-motorized outdoor pursuits. Common conservation themes included lakes and ponds, forests, drinking water, wildlife habitat, and health and well-being. Many respondents were not residents of this area but nevertheless cared enough about the region to fill out the survey. A whopping 92% replied positively to prioritizing conservation land near schools, even though most do not have children in these school systems, from which Whitman concluded ‘apparently most people believe kids need time in nature’.

Dan Sundquist bade everybody to ‘fasten their seat belts’ and performed a high speed review of the distribution of conservation values across MMRG’s seven towns. Of the 283-square-mile-region, approximately 11% is either public land or already conserved. But the natural resource deemed most significant, our critical lake watersheds, is only 8% is protected. Wetlands and riparian (shoreline) areas fare only slightly better, with 13% and 12% protected, respectively. Sundquist remarked how much he had personally enjoyed getting to know the area, adding “What a special region you have here!” He went one to say, “There’s so darn much good conservation opportunity out there. Get it done; don’t wait until the bulldozers start digging!”

The information encapsulated in the presentations by Whitman and Sundquist will be available in much greater detail in a thorough written report, with expected completion in early fall.  The approximately 100-page report will also contain some thirty or more maps, showing the distribution of high conservation value natural resources as well maps of the co-occurrence (overlapping) and connectivity of those resources to form potential greenways. MMRG Board member Dan Coons, who co-chaired MMRG’s conservation planning committee and is also Chair of the Wolfeboro Conservation Commission, was enthusiastic, “These maps will be an excellent too for local land-use and conservation planning!”  MMRG will share the final plan with local Conservation Commissions, land trusts, and other conservation-minded organizations as well as make it available on their website, www.mmrg.info.

MMRG’s Conservation Planning project was supported by funds from the sale of the Conservation License Plate (Moose Plate) through the NH State Conservation Committee grant program and other generous foundations.  MMRG thanks Parkers Accounting of Bow, NH and Wentworth Watershed Association for their sponsorship of the evening roll-out session.

Attendees looking at maps (Photo: Emily Lord)

Closeup of connectivity map (Photo: Emily Lord)

Dan Coons speaking with Patti Emily and Dan Sundquist listening (Photo: Virginia Long)

MMRG Executive Director Patti Connaughton-Burns asking audience to raise their hands (Photo: Emily Lord)

Presenter Dan Sundquist of Greenfire GIS (Photo: Emily Lord)

Presenter Steve Whitman of Resilience Planning and Design (Photo: Emily Lord)

 

 

15th Annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival Features Fun for the Whole Family 

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
(603) 473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date submitted:  July 21, 2017

15th Annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival Features Fun for the Whole Family                                                                                                                  

The highly-anticipated 15th annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival will take place on Saturday, August 12 from 10 am to 3 pm at Branch Hill Farm, 307 Applebee Road, Milton Mills, NH. Presented by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways and Branch Hill Farm, this day-long celebration of the great outdoors is an occasion for families to have fun, explore and learn about the natural world together.

The WWW Festival will appeal to all animal and wildlife lovers, with many opportunities for both children and adults to get up close and personal with a variety of living creatures. Families can feed and pet barnyard animals or observe and learn about rescued wildlife. There are fish to be caught in the farm pond, draft horses to watch at work, animal pelts to touch in the Mountain Man’s Hut, and a tunnel that gives kids a worm’s view of life in the soil.

All the favorite Festival activities will be back this year. Kids Discover the Forest and Nature’s Playground allow families to explore and play amongst the ferns and tall trees. Two differently-themed Hayrides run all day, giving everyone a choice and chance to ride. Volunteer instructors from NH Fish & Game provide poles and bait to kids for Let’s Go Fishing! in the pond. A Guided Family Forest Walk is a fun discovery adventure led by MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren. Nature experts display rescued wild animals at the Squam Lakes Wildlife Workshop and Ruth Scruton’s Traveling Barnyard brings their petting zoo. Volunteers from the NH Farm Museum, local craftsmen, and a horse logging operation demonstrate traditional rural skills. Kids can try out their craft skills and get creative in Build a Bee House and the Tree Cookie Craft Corner. The York River Ramblers will also be back with their toe-tapping tunes on guitar and fiddle.

Repeat Festival-goers may be interested to know of several new Festival events this year. Families can stroll along winding paths between raised bed gardens and learn about composting and growing heirloom vegetables in the new Festival Permaculture Garden. Here Comes the Sun focuses on the amazing potential of solar energy and how solar panels work. Education Coordinator Lygren expects another first-time activity, Fairy Houses and Gnome Homes, to be very popular with kids. Using natural materials, without disturbing growing plants, children will learn how to sustainably create lovely wee abodes sized for gnomes and fairies.

The festival takes place rain or shine. Homemade salads, desserts, hot grilled food, and cold smoothies will be on sale along with T-shirts and raffle baskets of local fresh produce and other items. Rest rooms and most events are wheelchair accessible. No pets please. The cost is $5/person or $10/family and free to ages 12 and under and to MMRG members; all events are included in the admission price. For more information, including a tentative program of events, visit www.mmrg.info/festival.

Festival proceeds and business sponsorships support MMRG’s land conservation and educational outreach mission. MMRG is grateful to its festival underwriters, the Siemon Company and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust. MMRG would like to thank the following major sponsors: Bruce and Jennifer Rich, the Hays-Dombrower Family, Carl and Beth Siemon, and the Wyatt Family.

Thanks are also due to many more business, organizational, and individual sponsors and supporters and to the dedicated volunteers who have already signed up to help out. More volunteers are needed; please call Kari Lygren at 603-978-7125 or email info@mmrg.info. A few business sponsorships of festival events are still available; please contact Amy Gardner at amy.mmrg@gmail.com.

Moose Mountains Regional Greenway is a non-profit land trust serving Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro (see www.mmrg.info). Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust is a private operating foundation (see www.branchhillfarm.org).

 

A NH Fish & Game volunteer helps a boy learn to fish in the Branch Hill farm pond at last year’s festival. (Photo David O’Connor )

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center presents rescued great horned owl at the 2016 Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival. (Photo Kate Wilcox )

A full haywagon heads across the Branch Hill Farm field at the 2016 Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival. (Photo David O’Connor)

A family enjoys petting a sheep brought by Ruth Scruton’s Traveling Barnyard. (Photo David O’Connor)

Volunteers already preparing for this year’s Woods, Water & wildlife Festival

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways

Box 191, Union, NH  03887
(603) 473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:  June 28, 2017

A new permaculture garden installation at Branch Hill Farm in Milton Mills got many helping hands as volunteers started preparing for the 15th annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival presented by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm. MMRG is now seeking more helpers to assist with preparations and at the Festival on Saturday, August 12 at Branch Hill Farm in Milton Mills.

Amy Gardner and her two young sons were among the volunteers helping transplant vegetables into new permaculture raised beds built by Sheehan Gardens, an heirloom vegetable business in Milton Mills. Amy remarked afterwards, “As a mom, I appreciated the opportunity to get kids involved in gardening. They dug holes, mixed in compost, and had fun planting. Anytime you put kids and dirt together, it’s a happy combination! Thomas (age 5) came to life planting melons into the prepared mounds; he did an awesome job patting the soil carefully around the delicate melon roots. And of course they enjoyed the free lemonade and cider donuts for volunteers!”

Prue Thresher, a first-time volunteer for MMRG, enjoyed meeting others involved with the organization while planting, mulching, and watering the new gardens. Sheehan Lygren, co-owner of Sheehan Gardens, was pleased at what the helpers had accomplished in a few short hours. And MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren praised their efforts. “They all worked really hard and did a great job. And I think they appreciated getting to take home a couple heirloom veggie plants from Sheehan Gardens as a token of our thanks.”

More help is needed to finish the permaculture garden, including building, planting and mulching a few more raised beds. Call Sheehan Lygren directly at 603-828-9343 to volunteer spontaneously on a convenient day.

2017 WWW Festival volunteers will be organized once again by Cheryl Giguere in coordination with Education Coordinator Lygren. Giguere, a dedicated MMRG volunteer herself, serves in many capacities at the organization and was recognized at MMRG’s Annual Meeting in April as MMRG’s ‘Volunteer of the Year’. Giguere says the Festival is her favorite volunteer job. “Especially now that I’m a new grandmother, I’ve become even more aware of the need to teach youth about taking care of wildlife and nature. I believe in everything that MMRG stands for and the Festival is one place we do that for children. I hope my grandson will come up for the Festival on August 12. We make a point of giving Festival volunteers time to go to the day’s activities, so I want to take him on a Hayride or to ‘Let’s Go Fishing’.

Many Festival volunteers are needed to pitch in on festival day, Saturday, August 12, or to help set up on Friday, August 11. Volunteers can set up hay bales, tents, and tables, assist with parking cars, sell food and raffle tickets, help kids have fun with crafts and other activities, and especially to help clean up at the end of the day. Please call Kari Lygren at (603) 978-7125 or email info@mmrg.info. For more information about the WWW Festival, see www.mmrg.info/festival

Adds Giguere, “If lots of people can pitch in just a little, nobody will get burnt out. It’s work but it’s fun and you reap more than you sow!”  Lygren adds, “Volunteers get free admission, some time to enjoy festival events and a free festival salad or dessert. And we’ll thank all our volunteers with a lake house cookout on Sunday afternoon, September 10. We couldn’t do it without all our wonderful helpers and we want them to know how important they are to us!”

Donations and festival proceeds support MMRG’s land conservation and educational outreach work. Business sponsorships of festival events are still available; please contact Amy Gardner at amy.mmrg@gmail.com or call 603-473-2020. MMRG extends thanks to its major sponsors: Carl Siemon, the Hays-Dombrower Family, and the Wyatt Family. The Siemon Company and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust generously underwrite the festival by matching sponsorship donations up to $20,000.

 

Amy Gardner and sons helping

Amy Gardner’s sons take a break

Sheehan Lygren and volunteers planting permaculture gardens at Branch Hill farm

Volunteers planting

Grand Opening of Trails in Milton

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date:  June 7, 2017

It’s not often that the town of Milton has a grand opening event and the one held on a Saturday morning in mid-May wasn’t your typical store or restaurant opening but was titled ‘Grand Opening of Plummers Ridge Forest and Farms Hiking Trails’. The event was extremely popular, with over 80 attendees packing the yard of the NH Farm Museum, which offered a staging area for celebratory remarks and complimentary food.  After tasting cider donuts from McKenzie’s Farm, participants headed out on some of the newly-blazed trails, starting at the new Branch Hill Farm trailhead kiosk just across the road (White Mountain Highway / Route 125), then returned for a hearty chili lunch

Almost seven miles of trails meander through 400 managed acres of forests and fields and along the Branch River, connecting the adjacent Plummers Ridge lands of Branch Hill Farm, McKenzie’s Farm and the New Hampshire Farm Museum. To keep the hiking parties of manageable size, Cynthia Wyatt and Kari Lygren of Branch Hill Farm each guided a subset of participants along a different trail loop, Mark Foynes of the NH Farm Museum took a group on a tour of Farm Museum trails, and forester Charlie Moreno of Moreno Forestry Associates led the largest group. He showed hikers the new scenic overlooks on a trail following the Branch River, while stopping en route to talk about forestry practices recently implemented at Branch Hill Farm to improve the forest quality and wildlife habitat.

One of Moreno’s first stops was at the ‘Tree Cookies’ sign, on which are affixed several thin slices, resembling cookies, cut from trunks of different tree species. By counting the visible tree rings and examining their spacing, much can be learned about the conditions in which the tree grew. Tightly spaced rings indicate slow tree growth that may be characteristic of the species or else caused by detrimental conditions such as drought or over-crowding and lack of sunlight. As pointed out by Moreno, a forest of trees needs to be thinned to promote their best growth, just like any garden.

Milton Mills resident Rachel Towne was enthusiastic about the event and the new trails. “I really like to see this kind of collaboration and the Grand Opening event to celebrate and inform people about the trails was a wonderful idea,” she said.

The public is welcome to walk, snowshoe or ski these trails connecting the three privately owned farms, but asked to please stay on the trails, which have been carefully routed to protect sensitive areas such as wetlands and stream banks that could erode. Visitors are also requested to leash and clean up after pets. Multiple trail loops offering options for distance, scenery and destination are shown on a detailed map with color-coded trails and marked points of interest, including the ‘Tree Cookie’ sign, the scenic overlooks, the old Jones and Plummer Family Cemeteries, and some cellar holes. Printed maps are available at McKenzie’s Farm, the NH Farm Museum, and at the trailhead kiosk across the road from the Museum.

The event was co-sponsored by regional land trust Moose Mountains Regional Greenways. The Farms thank Eagle Scout Stephen Steer and Milton Boy Scout Troop #155 for constructing and installing trail signs and a kiosk.

 

Photo: Rachel Towne

Photo: Cyndi Paulin

Photo: Rachel Towne

Branch River Paddlers Enjoyed Fast Water

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date:  June 7, 2017

Kayakers and canoeists found exceptionally high and fast-moving water in the Branch River for the annual paddle event presented by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (BHF/CSFCT). Approximately fifty participants made the bumpy but exciting 4-1/2 mile trip down the Branch River to the upper end of Milton Three Ponds this year, where they were transported back to the launch site in Milton for a picnic lunch prepared by Chef Gracie of Sheehan Gardens.

Before they headed out onto the river, MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren spoke to the paddlers about boating safety as well as about MMRG’s mission to conserve lands and educate the public about the value of our natural resources. Consulting forester Charlie Moreno challenged paddlers to pay attention to the abundant wildlife along the stream banks, and in particular to watch and listen for birds, which are always present in great variety and entertaining with their vibrant colors and song. At the end of the trip, Moreno collected a list of thirty bird species identified by participants, including a Barred owl that was heard hooting from the woods for the second paddle year in a row.

Also at the introduction, guest Wayne Sylvester of Three Ponds Protective Association (TPPA) mentioned the importance of the riparian (stream-side) zones along the two rivers that feed into the Three Ponds, the Branch and Salmon Falls, for ensuring the quality of the downstream lake water. (Implicit in his remarks was the fact that) forested riparian areas, like those along the Paddle route, help maintain pristine water by preventing erosion of stream banks and by filtering runoff water before it drains into the river. In addition to supporting best land use practices through monitoring for soil erosion and offering small grants for amelioration work, TPPA samples and analyzes lake water quality, performs courtesy boat inspections to monitor for invasive species that can infiltrate a lake, and is building an emergency fund to deal with a potential invasive species outbreak such as the European naiad recently discovered in Northeast Pond.

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways is a land trust serving Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. MMRG has helped conserve more than 5,000 acres in the region and holds monthly educational outreach events to inform people about the importance of its land conservation work. Branch Hill Farm/CSFCT is a private operating foundation whose mission is to conserve land,  produce quality timber products, and educate people about sound forestry practices and conservation. For more information, visit www.branchhillfarm.org. MMRG would like to thank the business co-sponsors of the Branch River Paddle: M&M Boat Storage, the Land Bank of Wolfeboro-Tuftonboro, and Access Sports Medicine of Rochester.

 

 

15th Annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival

Branch Hill Farm, 307 Applebee Rd, Milton Mills, NH

Saturday, August 12, 10 am – 3 pm

This family-friendly celebration of the natural world features fun and educational outdoor activities including hayrides to the river, rescued wild animals from Squam Lakes Science Center, fishing in the pond, a petting zoo, demonstrations of traditional rural skills, a kids’ discovery walk in the woods, guided nature walks, a permaculture garden, and much more! Rain or shine; no pets please. Presented by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways and Branch Hill Farm. $5/adult or $10/family. FREE for kids 12 and under. 

Photo credit: David O’Connor