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