Getting Outside During COVID-19

The heart of HCT’s mission is the ability of people to enjoy the beauty and natural resources of Harvard.  HCT and the Town have opted to keep our trails open for use, under new provisional guidelines, as these outdoor resources are needed more than ever.  We hope everyone in our community will take advantage of the range of different properties and recreational trails that have been preserved and cared for through volunteer efforts. Conservation areas are open from dawn to dusk and can be safely used and enjoyed under the posted rules (found at https://harvardconservationtrust.org/trails/ and https://www.harvard.ma.us/home/news/mud-season-and-harvard-trails) as well as the provisional guidelines below, developed in response to the current COVID-19 public health emergency:

• When parking please be respectful of others; avoid blocking other cars and do not park beyond specified areas into hayfields or adjacent natural lands. If parking area is full upon arrival, please choose a different property to visit, and/or return at another time.

• Limit the number of people in your group; ideally, 2 or less, and under no circumstances more than 5. Avoid congregating at trail heads, scenic overlooks, benches and rest areas, etc. Consider only using trails with members of your immediate family or those from your household.

• Maintain the physical distancing criteria advised by public health experts, at least 6 feet, at all times; including in the parking area, at the trail head, on the trail, on bridges, etc. When encountering others on the trail traveling in the opposite direction, step off the trail to provide a safe distance while passing. Likewise, when running, biking or otherwise overtaking a trail walker, pause and negotiate safely distanced passing.

• Keep pets leashed, or heeled, to reduce the potential for inadvertent contact with other trail users through the interaction of pets.

• Adult ticks and nymphs are active now, please take precautions such as wearing appropriate clothing and performing “tick checks” during and after walks.

A complete list of Harvard’s conservation properties, along with printable trail maps, can be found online at http://www.harvard-trails.com/mapindex.html.

Note Regarding COVID-19

As we all take the necessary precautions to help our community stay safe and healthy, please keep in mind that Harvard’s conservation lands remain open from dawn to dusk.  Getting outside to walk, run, or ride the trails keeps the body fit, while sitting quietly at the edge of a field or pond can calm the mind and relieve stress in these worrisome times.  We ask that you respect the space of others you encounter on the trails and maintain appropriate distance.  Please also refrain from visiting conservation lands in groups of 10 or more.  Though we may be practicing social distancing at the moment, in the big picture, connecting with land and nature can bring us together and strengthen community bonds through a shared sense of place.

The Harvard Conservation Trust

Harvard Conservation Trust New Year’s Walk

Per tradition, the Harvard Conservation Trust will ring in the New Year with a stroll among Harvard’s forests and fields. Nothing sets the tone for the year ahead like a leisurely walk with friends and neighbors in the crisp rejuvenating air of January. The walk will take place at 11:00am. HCT Membership not required. Location details will be provided at sign up. The walk will require a moderate level of fitness. Hiking poles, or good foot traction will be helpful if conditions are icy. Expect the walk to take approximately 1 hour. Dress for comfort and warmth. In the event of hazardous weather, the walk will be cancelled. Registration is necessary at : http://bit.ly/HCTNewYear.  Happy New Year from HCT!

Honoring the Memory of Marylynn

We are saddened to share the news of the passing of HCT’s first Executive Director, Marylynn Gentry (read obituary). Marylynn was a leader, a passionate naturalist, and a committed champion of land conservation in Harvard and beyond.  She will be greatly missed and the example she set will continue to inspire our work for years to come.

Opposed to Article 18, Citizen’s Petition

The Harvard Conservation Trust (HCT) manages over 325 acres of land in the Town of Harvard.  As stewards of this land, we have a responsibility to take a holistic and long-term view in caring for our natural heritage.  While passive land management has often been the default approach, it is not always sufficient or responsible.  Managing land well is an adaptive endeavor that requires careful consideration of complex and dynamic natural systems.  For this reason, we endorse maintaining all of the options and tools available, for the long-term.  At the October meeting of HCT’s Stewardship Committee, a recommendation was made to oppose the Citizen’s Petition to ban hunting on Town Conservation land in Harvard as it removes a potentially important management tool from the Conservation Commission’s land management tool box.  The Board of Trustees voted on October 16th to support a recommendation to oppose Article 18 at the October 28th Special Town Meeting.  While the Citizen’s Petition to ban hunting on Town conservation land does not apply to HCT’s land, natural systems function across property boundaries, and limiting the Conservation Commission’s options for managing Town land could result in negative consequences for HCT conservation lands by extension.

Participation on Town’s Deer Management Subcommittee

The Harvard Conservation Trust (HCT) was glad to have representation on the Town Conservation Commission’s Deer Management Subcommittee (DMS). We are a non-profit organization with a charitable mission to preserve the rural character and natural resources of Harvard. It is in HCT’s interest to keep abreast of important ecological and land management issues in the Town and region. Deer are a common species in our landscape and trying to better understand their potential impacts on forest ecology as well as other social and environmental issues is prudent.

The DMS included one HCT Trustee as a representative on the committee. Two other members of the committee are currently HCT Trustees, but they were not representing HCT on the DMS and their membership on this municipal committee pre-dated their election to HCT’s Board.  The recommendation of the DMS (a subcommittee of Town government) does not reflect any position or policy of HCT (an independent non-profit organization). We will continue to keep abreast of this and other conservation-land stewardship matters taken up by the Town. Currently, there is no change in HCT’s hunting policy, which remains, hunting is prohibited on HCT lands.

We wish to thank our board members, and all those who generously volunteer their time on civic boards and committees in Harvard.

HCT Annual Meeting 11/1 – “The Art of Cider Making”

Thursday, November 1st, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m., at the Harvard Historical Society (PLEASE NOTE THE LOCATION OF THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CHANGED TO THE HARVARD HISTORICAL SOCIETY, 215 STILL RIVER ROAD)

Celebrity chef and raconteur Paul Correnty, author of The Art of Cider Making and founder of the largest hard cider festival in North America will be the guest speaker at the Harvard Conservation Trust’s annual meeting on November 1, 2018. In his talk, Chef Paul will examine the history, the science, and the pleasures of hard cider, a beverage with deep roots in New England’s heritage. Along with enthusiasm, Chef Paul will bring an assortment of hard ciders for the audience to taste. The meeting will be held at the Harvard Historical Society on Still River Road. From 7 -7:30 pm, HCT business portion of the annual meeting with election of new trustees and at 7:30 pm Mr. Correnty will take the floor.

Guided Forest Walk

Saturday, October 20th at 1:00 pm (Burgess-Brown Farm at the end of Murray Lane, Harvard)

Experience the peace and tranquility of Harvard’s woodlands in a new way. Certified guide Pam Frederick leads this one hour introduction to Forest Bathing or “Shinrin Yoku.” The walk includes slow, mindful walking which helps us become present to the wonders of the natural world. Contact Pam Frederick for more information and to register. pwfrederick@gmail.com or 978-460-0781 or 978-456-3312.

Run for the Hills 2018: new course, live music, and more

Please join us for the 9th annual Run for the Hills 5K trail race! Sunday October 21st; registration opens at 9:00 a.m. with 10:00 start.

New Location! Run starts and ends at Community Harvest Project orchard (115 Prospect Hill Rd) and traverses the scenic and challenging Prospect Hill Conservation area. As a less strenuous alternative, participants can register for a 2K “Orchard Walk” featuring some of the best views in Harvard.
Easy online registration at: https://www.lightboxreg.com/2018-run-for-the-hills-5k_2018. 5K registration fee is $30, with special rates for HCT members and early bird registration before 9/8, and youth ($20), orchard walk only ($20), and families ($60). Free T-shirt to all runners and walkers registered by Friday  October 5th.

All proceeds from the 5K trail race and orchard benefit the Harvard Conservation Trust!

Come One, Come All to Horse Meadows Knoll Opening Celebration

Saturday, September 29th, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. at Horse Meadows on Sherry Road in Harvard.

Come celebrate and explore the opening of Harvard’s newest conservation area.  Staff and Board members of the Harvard Conservation Trust and Sudbury Valley Trustees will be on hand to share the story behind their partnership to protect this ecological gem, as well as provide guided walks of the land with its rocky outcrops, varied terrain and natural communities, and active wildlife.

Pre-registration is requested but not required at: https://www.svtweb.org/calendar/grand-opening-horse-meadows-knoll-trails