2021 In Review

We had a pretty busy year in 2021 and what a difference we made.

19 Rides in eleven towns in three different states with a total of 719 riders.

3 Campouts.

Trail Work. Douglas-State Forest 57.5 hours ($132.13 lunch). Uxbridge-West Hill Dam 30 hours ($70.27 lunch). Upton-State Forest 5 hours. Upton-Peppercorn Hill  39.2 hours. Thompson CT 22.25 hours. Oxford-Hodges Village Dam 50.19 hours ($149.92 lunch). Douglas-SNETT 4 hours. Douglas-BSTRA property 58.84 hours. Athol 21 hours. Barre 12 hours. Mendon-Inman Hill Wildlife Conservation Area 1 hour. Hubbardston- bridge and culvert repair 8 hours. Grand total of 307.48 hours. Volunteer rate for MA is $32.96 per hour. Trail work worth $10,536.30 including lunches (you have to feed the hungry workers!)

Trail projects (site walks, paperwork, meetings) 31.58 hours. ($1,040.87)

Webinars (trail related) 5 hours.

Public hearing/comments. 3.75

Be My Guest interview-video about BSTRA 1/2  hour.

Mendon-Inman Hill Conservation Area spent $2,500 to improve the parking field.

Hubbardston-Mt Jefferson donated $1,540.16 for bridge and trail improvements.

Upton-Peppercorn Hill donated $500 to help preserve 66 acres called the Kelly property.

Douglas-purchased 17+ acres to connect the SNETT to the town owned trails behind the schools. $14,025.

Donated pea stone & delivery for our bridge projects $362.49

So what is our total that we put into on the ground trail work? It’s $29,167.31 for 2021!

Our Fundraising Committee raised over $35,000 in 2021 for trail projects.

This was an amazing accomplishment and all those that did the work, volunteered or supported us should be very proud. Thank you all so very much.

March 31, 2021 was a historical first for BSTRA. We purchased a 17 acre parcel of land in Douglas MA. 

This property makes a connection between the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT) and the 131 acres of land owned by the Town behind the schools.

We should be able to get about two miles of looping trails on both properties. Some of the existing trails on the land behind the schools are used by their cross country runners.

Short term plans for the new property will be to clean up the old farm dump and establish the connector trail. Long term plans are to turn the property over to Metacomet Land Trust. A land trust is in the business of holding and protecting land and our Board of Directors felt that this would be the best option. It will accomplish our goal of preserving land that is open for horseback riding and other non-motorized us, but we won’t have to worry about being a “landowner” and all that is associated with it.

Aug. 2, 2021 we held our first work party. We brushed back the invasive knotweed from Martin Road to where we were entering the property to access the old farm dump. We then cleared the trail down to the old farm dump. Five people with brush cutters, back pack blower and chain saw finished that up with a total of 14 hours of volunteer work worth $461.44.

Aug. 4, 2021 the scrap metal dumpster was dropped off.

Aug. 7, 2021 Eleven volunteers, one with a Kubota tractor that has a bucket and one with a riding lawnmower with a tow behind cart met up to start hauling out all the metal. Surprisingly 99% of the metal made it out to the dumpster that morning. We are talking about 1930’s cars or what was left of them, tons of buckets, various tubs, cans, empty metal drums, mattress springs, old refrigerator, and so on. We put in a total of 40.84 hours worth $1,346.09

Aug. 8, 2021 Two volunteers with the Kubota tractor spent another 8 hours total (worth $263.68) getting that last piece of the car frame out of there. Turns out that the roots of a tree right next to the frame had grown all around the brake drum assembly and underneath to the tie rods. Thus the huge amount of time to actually get it out which they finally did!


April 3, 2021 DCR’s Douglas State Forest Trail Work Day

We had a super turnout for the first trail work day of the year. Sixteen BSTRA members and DCR’s Cary VandenAkker.

With enough people we split into three groups. Group #1 (Chris DiMasi, Phil Rutledge, Kathy Rich, Bill Knott, Sue Sanders, Lynn Paresky, and Deb Carlson) headed over to Ricky’s trail and then split into two groups to start on each end with cutting and brushing back.

Group #2  (Laura & Arthur Susmann, Beth Phippard and Cary VandenAkker) headed over to Rocky Brook to work on installing the geo-textile material and pea stone on the two bridges there to make them non-slip and safe for all trail users. Actually Laura, Arthur and Beth had come down from New Hampshire not only to help out, but to learn how we were installing the geo-textile and pea stone on the bridges because they want to do the same for the park they ride in up in New Hampshire. How cool is that?

Group #3 (Becky Kalagher, Lee Paresky, Gloria Duhaime, Katherine Petersson, Rose Zariczny, and Cheryl Fitzpatrick) headed over to where the Grand Trunk comes out onto Wallum Lake Road. To cross, you had to go diagonally up the heavily traveled road on a blind corner before you could get to the other cart road. . Our goal was to create a crossing that was straight across the road.  On a previous visit with Cary, he and I scoped it out and figured out where we could actually make the crossing.

Group #3 finished up that new connector pretty quickly and then headed off to our second mission. From Streeter Trail there is a short trail that connects down to the SNETT that was pretty grown in.

Lee put his brush cutter to work and was quite busy getting all the small brush. I was in front running my chainsaw and cutting back the myriad of small pine trees seriously crowding the trail. Side note here: I was cutting a small tree (3” diameter) that ended up falling towards me. As I went to push it the other way and turned guess what my chainsaw hit? First time in over 40 years of running a chainsaw. So is PPE worth it? You bet your sweet life it is.

While Group #3 was working on the connector trail (we really needed a better name for this trail) Group #1 (the bridge group) joined up to help us finish this section. This worked out really well. Cary came in from the SNETT end with his chainsaw, so just about the time I caught up with him, I ran out of gas! Perfect timing.

After a job well done, we all headed back to the headquarters building for lunch. Thank you Rose for calling it in and picking it up. It was pretty nice to sit out in the sun for our well deserved lunch. BSTRA paid $132.13 to make sure everyone was well fed and happy.

Including all the different sections, we cleared 1.1 miles of trail and improved the safety of two bridges for a total of 56 hours worth $1,845.76



April 17, 2021 West Hill Dam Uxbridge Trail Work Day

Another lovely day greeted us as the rain/snow from the day before finally stopped. With 10 people, we split into two crews to hit two sections of the main trail.

One of these years I will have to make sure I am in Viola’s crew. I am sure I missed some interesting educational information about something in the park – like Viola pointing out the huge poison ivy vines growing up the trunk of the trees! Though we did have some of that at the headquarters building before and after the event like a flying squirrel nest for six and a hummingbird nest that was really tiny!

Our mission was to clean out the water bars. They do get filled in and when that happens it doesn’t get the water off the trail. So with shovels, rakes, and loppers in hand we headed out. We got all the water bars cleaned out, winter debris picked up, and some minor brushing back.

Our grateful thanks to the following who joined our fun trail work day to improve the trails for all that use them at West Hill Dam. Gloria Duhaime, Darlene Falcone, Susan Linton (new member) Chris DiMasi, Debby Deschenes (definitely drove the farthest), Becky Kalagher, Angie & Bill Knott, Linda Lestha (local lover of the trails that joined us). And we can’t forget Viola Bramel – Army Corps of Engineers extraordinaire!

All totaled, we put in 30 hours with a value of $988.80 and spent $70.27 to feed our hungry crew.



April 19, 2021 DCR’s Upton State Forest Bridge Work

Five people got together to install geo-textile and pea stone to the second bridge between Westboro Road & Southboro Road at the Upton State Forest.

We had Bill Taylor (Friends of the Upton State Forest), Mary McManus, Suzanne Nicholas, Joyce Sandvik, and Becky Kalagher.

One hour later, we had a beautiful looking and safe bridge crossing for all users. A total of five hours was put in by everyone for a value of $164.80



May 1, 2021 Hodges Village Dam Oxford MA Trail Work

Our mission was to brush back some of the trails that we were going to use for our National Trails Day ride.

We had a huge crew, 20 people, show up for this work day. We split into two groups. Phil Rutledge’s group headed over to the trails by the dikes to work on them.

I headed up the second group with the brush cutter and hit some of the trails north and west of the cemetery.

We cleared back a good mile of trails. We had a bit of walking to get to different places, so that did take up some time.

Towards the end, our group was still working on the way out, cutting brush and picking it up. Barbara McCumber was ready to hide the gas can so I couldn’t fuel up again. I told her that I ran out of gas, not the brush cutter. I was tired too!

All totaled, we put in 50.19 hours of trail work worth $1,654.26 and we paid $149.92 for lunch to feed all our hard working volunteers.

Many thanks to the following: Melissa Beagle, MaryEllen Coyne, Kirsten Hodges, Chris DiMasi, Angie Knott, Becky Kalagher, Lida Roman, Crysanda Boisvert, Phil & Jane Rutledge, Patricia McElligott, Barry Greene, Deb Carlson, Kathy Budrow, Barbara McCumber, Deb Deschenes, Cheryl Fitzpatrick, Valerie Clark, and Mary  & Ed Wood.



May 2021 BSTRA Helps Protect 66 Acres

The Sudbury Valley Trustees working with Metacomet Land Trust and the Town of Upton to acquire the Kelly properties to add to the Peppercorn Hill Conservation Area.

BSTRA donated $500 towards the $73,000 they had to raise to purchase and protect these properties. The fundraising campaign was successful and the property is now preserved.


June 2021 Peppercorn Hill Upton MA Trail Work

Lets hold a Trivia Ride. Sounds good. Where might we want to do it. Well, we just helped out with preserving land at Peppercorn Hill and we did have a ride there once. Looked that up, it was 1997.

Fast forward to present. Is this feasible? On March 17th Lurissa Marston and I took a 4 hour hike. The back trail is definitely not suitable for horses. Extremely rocky and steep.

Figure out a route and on May 18th ride it with Lurissa. That took 3.25 hours. It can be done, but the trails have not been maintained for horseback riders height.

Seven trail work sessions later it is finally cleared for riders to pass. Many thanks to Becky Kalagher, Sue Perry, Janeen Rose, Gloria Duhaime, Mary McManus, and Carla Williams.

All totaled for the trail work sessions we put in 34.7 hours of work. That was worth $1,143.71


June 2021 Hubbardston Trail Work

On June 20th, members of Hubbardston’s Open Space Committee (and BSTRA) ventured into Hubbardston SF to make repairs to a bridge over Canesto Brook and replace a failing stone culvert.

Bridge Repair

The bridge is a 10′ by 16′ bridge, the decking for which had been failing rapidly in the last 2 years.  Before repair there were 2′ holes in the decking and worse – rotten spots that still appeared solid.

The challenge was how to repair the bridge.  We examined the structure and found that the supporting beams (telephone poles) were in excellent condition – not surprising.


  1. Wood Remove and replace all the old decking and replace with 3″ PT wood.  Very labor-intensive, moderately expensive given current cost of lumber, limited lifespan – 15-20 years, and a surface that would need to be “coated” with anti-slip treatment.
  2. FRP Panels Through Bob’s never ending penchant for searching for safe, long lasting, and economical solutions to trail problems  – geosynthetic solutions is a primary starting point.  Already familiar with many HDPE products (none of which were ideal for this problem) another geosynthetic product – FRP (Fiberglass reinforced polymer) was investigated.  The family of products in this category is very broad and used for many applications perfectly suited for trails – especially spanning challenges.   Indeed these products have been / are being used in many state and national parks to create clear bridges in remote areas – areas where it is impossible to get heavy equipment.  The variety of products are light enough to be hand carried by teams of workers to the site and then assemble on site. In our case, we already had the span members in place (telephone poles 2′ O.C.) We just needed a new deck.  In fact, since this product comes in panels which can be interlocked to form essentially one huge sheet – we did not need to remove the old deck underneath.  The old deck will slowly disappear, but the new deck will simply settle uniformly. The product chosen was what is called 2x2x2 molded square square grid grating.  At 2′ OC support, this has a load bearing capacity of over 2000 # / sq ft!  Grating capable of 500 # / sq ft would be more than enough for horses but we knew this large bridge would also need to support maintenance equipment as well.

Why else did we choose an FRP solution?

  1. FRP products are more expensive from an acquisition viewpoint.  But are much less expensive from a life cycle viewpoint.  FRP products have a lifespan of 80-100 years, are impervious to UVE, etc
  2. There is essentially zero maintenance
  3. Are much easier to get to remote sites
  4. Inherently support a not slippery surface design
  5. Much easier to install.

Installation Day The tractor arrived at the scene at about noon on Monday the 21st of June.  We had a team of 4 men and one woman – Steph did most of the work!!   Not surprising. We first cleaned leaf debris off the deck.  The FRP square grid grating has open spaces as can be seen in the pix.  Our plan all along was to fill the voids with stone – porous (aka no water / ice / slipperiness) but needed to contain the stone.  Other geosynthetic product to the rescue.  First a layer of Triax – very stiff mesh we use for trail hardening was applied first. then a layer of HDPE fabric.  The fabric would keep the stone from falling through, but would sag.  The triax is very stiff and supports the fabric.   Next we laid out the panels on the deck and interlocked the panels with special clips just for this purpose.  The clips essentially turn the multiple panels into one big grate.   All of the above was completed in about 45 minute. Now ready for a BIG test and the final step – depositing the stone.  The function of the stone was purely a non-slip surface and an aesthetically pleasant looking trail.  aka the structure was structurally sound (theoretically) and ready to hold weight.  We (Bob) drove the tractor with a bucket load of stone (~ 13,000 #) to the far side of the bridge and the dropped the stone as other helpers smoothed out with rakes and shovels.  The new deck was in place and sound in 90 minutes!! There was one last step – a fine grit as a top surface.  The initial fill was 3/4″ stone – a bit coarse for horse and human.  We did go back and add a thin layer of 1/4″ peastone, which makes a much more pleasant surface for horse and human.

Equestrian Test On Tuesday (the next day), Steph lead a team of Burnshirt riders across the bridge.  Great to be back to a safe passageway!! On Thursday Cross State Trail Ride provided the big equestrian test.  Cross State was holding their summer ride at Sawyers Farm about a mile at the top of the hill.  The bridge would be crossed literally many hundreds of times by horses over the next 4 days!!

Culvert Repair

A more classic problem / solution.  Along the same trail (Canesto Brook) there was an old stone culvert that was failing.  Some of the top stones were falling in, resulting in a very dangerous situation – especially for equestrian use.  “Holes” were in the 6″- 8″ diameter range – small enough to not be very visible – but big enough and deep enough to present a lethal situation for horse and rider.

This effort required digging out the old stones and replacing with today’s standard of double wall HDPE (the word again) culvert pipe.  This job although simpler in nature was more labor and machine oriented and took about 6 hours to complete.  Most of the original old large stones were preserved and used as the top layer for aesthetics.

All totaled this project cost $3,080 with a good days worth of labor. Many thanks to BSTRA for donating $1,540.16 towards project costs and to Cross State Trail Riders for donating $1,000 towards the cost of this project..



August 2021 Repairs made to parking field

The parking field for Inman Hill Wildlife Conservation Area in Mendon MA was torn up again because some people just don’t know to stay off of fields in the spring because they are very wet. Needless to say, there were ruts in there that would send your horse through the trailer roof.

BSTRA hired CJM Construction and paid $2,500 to fix the ruts. The ruts did get fixed and the good news is that the town installed a gate to keep vehicles out until the fields dry up.