Land Trust seeing plans start to blossom; Expansion of meadow should brighten property.
HOLDEN - The giant logging truck could be heard long before it could be seen, which provided a good opportunity to get out of the way.
It appeared at the top of the hill on the Greater Worcester Land Trust's Cascades West property just over the Worcester line near Boynton Park, like something that will be colonizing the moon in a few years. All tires and chains and claws and pointy plows, it rumbled down the recently reopened farm road with earth-shaking authority, dragging behind it like a straw broom a cluster of 50-foot long trees. The limbs smacked the trees by the side of the dirt road as the machine headed toward a medieval-looking contraption that pretty much eats trees and shoots the chips into a trailer.
The hellish scene wasn't a nightmare land trust Director Colin Novick couldn't wake up from - it was years of planning and design finally put into action. The loggers have been working all week clearing a seven-acre patch of forest at the top of a hill to expand a gorgeous meadow that Mr. Novick says helps attract and support an important network of vegetation and wildlife.
With its nearly fluorescent patch of wildflowers, berries, alien-looking plants and even wild grape vines, the meadow sits atop a hill that was likely used for pasturing by local farmers from the 1800s up through the early 1900s, Mr. Novick said.
The land trust recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to do the logging, and the trucks worked all week. The work will likely be finished early next week. While Mr. Novick walked the land on a recent afternoon, near the tree line yet another strange and dangerous-looking machine chopped trees at their bases, hugged them with a giant metal grip, and laid them down for the tree-dragging machine to come get.
When the work is done the newly bare land, along with some trees left behind, will be left alone to let nature take its course.
"The new meadow should start to come in immediately," Mr. Novick said.
The area had previously been a dark, relatively mono-cultured batch of white pine trees. While they weren't dying, they were not exactly in the prime of their lives, and would likely start to decline soon, Mr. Novick said. Plus, the thick canopy created by the pines and other trees in the forest inhibits the diverse plant life that attracts wildlife. When the meadow grows in, Mr. Novick said, he expects to see everything from various birds and butterflies to bears, which have been known to hang around the area anyway.
Roger Plourde, the consulting forester on the project, said growing meadows to break up tracts of forest is starting to become more common. He said it was important to retain trees that add value to the habitat - ones that either provide food or shelter for animals in the area. He said old stone walls in the area are a good sign that it was a field before.
"It's sort of going back to something that was here probably in the early 1800s," Mr. Plourde said.
Part of a network of land that starts in Worcester in the West Tatnuck area and stretches into parts of Holden and Paxton, the Cascades West features a network of woodsy hiking trails, and Mr. Novick said the land trust tends to leave the area in its natural state as much as possible.
The new meadow, while a bit remote, will still offer some public access, Mr. Novick said.
"We always have a trail so people can come," Mr. Novick said. "It gives people a chance to see nature."
CUTLINE: Meadow restoration area
PHOTOG: T&G Staff/STACEY ARSENAULT
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|Title Annotation:||LOCAL NEWS|
|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||Jun 30, 2012|
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