Hike the Storybook Trail at Burgess-Brown Land

Introduce your children to the wonders of spending time in the woods with HCT’s inaugural storybook trail, featuring Owl Moon, the children’s book by Jane Yolen. Now open from March 15th – April 2nd, you’ll find the start of the walk at the Brown-Burgess Land trailhead entrance at the end of Murray Lane in Harvard, MA. Ideal for young readers of all skill levels, the storybook trail offers an opportunity to experience Owl Moon while wandering along a ½ mile path through the woods. Each station contains two pages of this children’s book, chosen to help build connection between your children and the natural world around them.

About Owl Moon

Owl Moon is a gentle and poetic story about the companionship of a young child and her father as well as our relationship as humans with the natural world. The 1988 Caldecott Medal winner for John Schoenherr’s stunning illustrations, the book has been translated into nine languages, been an ALA Notable Book, a Reading Rainbow book, a Junior Literary Guild selection, and on dozens of state award lists.

Walking The Burgess-Brown Trail

The walking loop at Brown Burgess land (http://www.harvard-trails.com/brown.html) is an enchanting one for hikers of all ages, offering new discoveries around every corner. The trail begins by crossing a meadow with vestiges of old apple trees and a small pond. You then enter piney woods and pass by a spectacular glacial erratic rock structure which triggers the imagination of young ones. Mysterious stone piles and stone walls along the walk remind us how this forest was once farmed land.

Tell Us About Your Experience

 We hope that the story book trail offers a new adventure and way to experience our beautiful town for you and your little ones! Please share your feedback and photos by emailing us at sights@harvardconservationtrust.org.

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!

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

Review: 2020 Annual Meeting

For those who may have missed it, the 2020 Annual Meeting was one of the best attended anyone can remember. Nearly 70 individuals joined our Zoom meeting, and all learned something new about how mycorrhizal relationships work, how trees share, and how fungal species establish relationships with plants while avoiding other fungus. We also learned how all of the preceding three statements are all referencing the same wood-wide web! Dr. Susan Goldhor, of the Boston Mycological Club has left us all with a better understanding and appreciation of the many ecological processes taking place right under our feet that we cannot see. Dr. Goldhor recommended two books for those who are interested in learning more: The Hidden Forest and Mycorrhizal Planet. For younger audiences, our Executive Director Brian Colleran also recommends the Trees installment of the Science Comics series. In the meantime however, please enjoy a favorite Ted Talk of Dr. Goldhor’s, or Dr. Goldgor herself in the videos below.

Thank you for making the 2020 Annual Meeting a success!