New Year’s Day 2021 Poetry Walk

This year our traditional HCT New Year’s Day Walk will be modified in keeping with best practices for safety during the pandemic. We are hosting a Poetry Walk on the Burgess-Brown land, and participants are advised to walk alone or in small groups that maintain appropriate social distance.  A favorite HCT trail traverses this landscape and scattered along the path you will discover, among the trees, poems about winter and new beginnings. We hope that the self guided and reflective nature of this activity helps us all to confidently step into a bright and hopeful new year, when we can breathe a little easier and look forward to positive changes.

To access this wonderful piece of property for your first steps into the New Year, park at the turnaround at the end of Murray Lane. The poetry walk will be well marked. Happy New Year!

Shaker Spring House Trail

An often-overlooked trail here in Harvard is the Shaker Spring House trail! It’s recently been refreshed, and the 45-min loop offers beautiful walk through forest and wetlands as well as a close-up look at a historic landmark: the Shaker Spring house. The house and water system underneath was originally built by the Shakers in 1855.  Suffering from a drought, they laid an aqueduct about a mile long from the spring at this site to a reservoir in Shaker Village (now Route 2 runs between these two sites, so you won’t be able to hike from this trail over to the Old Shaker Village any longer.)

You’ll find the entrance to the trail at the end of Green Hill Road, just off of Old Littleton. There’s parking off the cul-de-sac for 3-4 cars. About 150 yards into the trail, you’ll come to a fork and can hike the loop in either direction.  If you want to see the Spring House first, head to the left (clockwise) you’ll come upon it very quickly.

It’s winter now, so many of the trees are bare and the noise from the highway is significant during business hours. That said, the proximity and easy access for many who live along Old Littleton makes up for this, and once you turn south away from Route 2, you’ll wander through the woods and along streams.

For more information, visit https://harvardconservationtrust.org/maps/shaker_spring_house.pdf

CARES ACT Changes to Charitable Giving

HCT Members & Friends:

The COVID 19 Stimulus Package, also known as the CARES Act contained language that impacts the way your charitable contributions to the organizations you care about are rewarded by the IRS.

To highlight a few of these changes:

The adjusted gross income (AGI) limit for cash donations was increased for individuals. In 2020, cash contributions may be deducted up to 100 percent of your AGI (increased from 60 percent).

If you’re between 59½ years old and 70½ years old, benefits similar to a QCD (Qualified Charitable Distribution) are now available; you can take a cash distribution from your IRA, contribute the cash to charity, and this may completely offset tax attributable to the distribution by taking a charitable deduction in an amount up to 100 percent of their AGI for the tax year.

If you are over 70.5 years, you might also consider the tax benefit of making a donation directly from an IRA or 401(k) account. The IRS allows these direct donations to be tax-free withdrawals from the account. In addition, you can take a deduction up to $300 (if you do not itemize) and up to $100,000 (if you itemize) subject to certain income limits. By using the retirement assets, one gets a double benefit, avoidance of ordinary income tax on the withdrawal, and a tax deduction up to the applicable limits. If it’s not retirement assets, you are donating with post-tax earned dollars.

(Please note this information is not intended as legal or tax advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor for application to your own situation.)

For further information, please see:

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/how-the-cares-act-changes-deducting-charitable-contributions

https://www.fidelitycharitable.org/articles/what-the-cares-act-means-for-charitable-giving.html

https://wish.org/stimulus

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash