January Report to the Board of Directors

Since our last hybrid meeting there has been considerable activity involving the trails and outreach initiatives, and a summary of these activities is given below.  If you wish to be on a specific committee or involved in a particular effort, please contact Dan Murray (
dpjmurray@gmail.com) and/or the person listed in bold as “chair” for the committee. 
  Recent zoom meetings: Agendas and minutes for this year’s meetings were sent out to the Board.  If you have questions please contact LPS (lpsofnorton@icloud.com), or chairs of respective committees or working groups.
Trails:  Maintenance & Problems:  Mike Rainville
In general trails are in good shape, primarily because LPS members and other users work to keep them cleared of falling trees etc. and rubbish-free, and to alert us if there are issues we should be aware of.  LPS thanks all of you profusely, for without you help we could not adequately maintain the trails.  There continue to be problems with the ‘usual suspects’, such as the Red Mill area. VOLUNTEERS ?
   Signage:  Dylan Moreau
Improvement of signage has occurred on several levels. Thanks to a former intern, Dylan Moreau, our signage is largely compliant with ADA criteria, and clear. As described below, on several of our more extensive and/or complex trail systems we’ve included maps not only at the trailheads, but also along the trails. There still is work to be done. VOLUNTEERS ?
  Suggestions for work in the near future, from Mike Rainville 

  •   Scout out new trails.  We have ideas for Johnson-Henrich, Woodward and maybe Foster.  John Thomas has mentioned wanting to connect Johnson Farms to Reinhard Pastures.
  • Add or Upgrade the title signs and kiosks.  For example: add a title sign at the Crane parking area; add a kiosk at King Philip;  check the “health” of all signs and kiosks.
  • Add benches.  For example: Johnson-Henrich overlooking the pond and/or the Rumford; Foster Refuge overlooking the upper pond; a couple more spots in Woodward; maybe Foster East and Reinhard.
  •   Semi-standardize the kiosk layouts with the town and parcel maps and info, outreach, and event flyers, etc.
  • Attached is a worksheet I’m trying to use for tracking the ideas (not included with this note).


Woodward Forest:

  • Trail conditions:  Good.  Alnylam volunteers have cleaned up the River Loop  and other parts. Pat Coleman prepared two more benches and Alnylam installed them (along the river and at the  #2 field).  Some trees have come down recently, and we need to remove them.  Please contact Mike Rainville if you can help.
  • Trail signage: Signage is improved, and 15 You Are Here maps have been posted.  Each shows a map of WF, with a star showing your location. Dylan Moreau has primary responsibility for the planning and maintenance of trail signage.
    There are currently ribbons marking trails as well. Please leave them on trees, as they are being used in variety of projects, such as the Walks developed by Outreach.
  •   Contact person(s): Mike, Dylan or Dan
  •   Trail conditions: Trails are in decent shape.
  • Trail signage.  Signage is improved, and five You Are Here maps have been posted.  Each shows a map of J-H, with a star showing your location
  •   Other issues: Ray Mathieu, with help from David Henry and Mike Rainville, has installed a new kiosk.
  • Contact person(s): Mike
Crane Preserve:
  • Trail conditions: Trails are in good shape, and a new one been added by Pat Coleman and a Norton HS student.  Fred Abraham--with help from his wife, Mike Rainville and Dan-- has removed industrial waste (e.g., car axles, bales of wire, glass, etc.) from the Three Mile River.
  • Trail signage: Dylan has updated the signage.
  •   Other issues: Long-terms plans are to continue to clean up the river and develop a plan for the creation of river trails on our land.
  • Contact person(s): Pat and Dinny Coleman are the Caretakers for this site.
    King Philip Cave:
  • Trail conditions: : Trails are in good shape.  Ray Mathieu constructed a bench and plaques dedicating the trails in honor of Phil and Nick Zawasky .
  •   Contact person(s): Kathy Ebert-Kawasky
Foster Trail:
  •  Trail conditions: : Trails are in decent shape.
  • Trail signage: Needs some work
  • Other issues:
o   Ray Mathieu, with help from David Henry and Mike Rainville, has installed a new kiosk.
o   Plans are underway to remove all of the scrap metal (e.g., from the old town water tower and road construction. LPS has submitted a proposal to the Norton Cultural Council for funds to make further improvements.
  • Contact person(s) Dan
Foster Site
  • This refers to the LPS property on the other side of Rte. 140. It extends along the Wading River to the Woodward Forest Trails. It is the site of most of the Copper Works., where the refinement of copper ore into coins and ship hull plating during  the 19th century occurred.  Jessie Kilburn, a Wheaton College intern, has researched this area and prepared a storyboard to be displayed at the site of the Copperworks.
  • It abuts on the east with the Devlin property, which currently is under consideration for development of five duplex housing units.  Stay tuned!
   Valentine Trail:
  • Trail conditions: : Trails are in decent shape.
  • Other issues Ray Mathieu constructed a stout wooden bridge across a small stream.
  • Contact person(s): Linda
  Red Mill:
  • Problems: Nothing has really changed (for here that’s good news!). Even better news, John Thomas, the Norton Conservation Director, is working with us to resolve this problematic area.
  • Contact person(s) Mike Rainville
·      Rheinhard Pastures:
  • Trail conditions:  The trails are in good shape, in part from ‘unauthorized’ work by Mark Sweeney, an abutter. 
  • Trail signage: We are updating it.
  • Problems: This site has the potential to be one of our premier locales, as it provides access to the Canoe River and diverse ecosystems.  However there are problems yet to be resolved:
  •     Parking
  •   Trespassing: The aforementioned abutter improved the trails so as to get more easily to a bridge he built across the Canoe River, just off our property. It provides a passageway to go from the trailhead over to sandpits near Red Mill,  The DEM plans to take it down, and we have served him a warrant prohibiting trespassing on LPS land. As our land has not been used by dirt bikers or others causing damage, for now it may behoove LPS simply to ask the abutter’s help in watching over our property. This might be an opportunity to work cooperatively toward making the land more welcoming to walkers. This is a topic for consideration.) A work in progress!
  •     Property boundary: uncertainties as to our property boundaries may require that they be resurveyed.
Contact person(s) Mike Rainville
Dahl Preserve: Nothing has changed since the airport cut down trees last spring.  Remediation is promised to start this spring. If you have questions contact Dan.
   Other sites: No significant changes.
·      Acquisitions:
  •   Salley: This 14-acre plot is part of the Leighton Foster lands.  It is off Taunton Ave. And Barrrowsville Rd.
  • Condyne: Three small parcels , totaling ~5 acres, were donated.  This is in addition to the larger tract that Condyne donated off Leonard Street
Outreach Committee: Laurie Pleshar, chair.
The Outreach committee met monthly throughout the summer and fall and organized two successful events described below:
  •   Look Up! An evening of Stargazing at the Norton Middle School soccer fields attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd of all ages on Friday, September 30, when Jupiter was prominent in the night sky. Tim Barker, Professor of Astronomy Emeritus at Wheaton College, provided a telescope and a wealth of fascinating information. LPS thanks him for sharing his expertise and knowledge! Kathy Z. was largely responsible for arranging this event and for assembling favors for young participants. Thank you!
  •   A self-guided Gratitude Walk in Woodward Forest on Sunday, November 27 drew a larger-than-anticipated crowd of nearly 30 people to cap off Thanksgiving weekend. It worked particularly well for participants to arrive anytime between 1:00 and 3:00 and follow the well-marked Frances Shirley Trail featuring the vernal pool. Laurie Pleshar, Dinny Coleman, and Ann Murray were welcomers at the trailhead and volunteers were stationed at optional stopping points to answer questions on the following topics: the meadow site (Marshall Martin), woods management (Dylan Moreau), the vernal pool (Deb Cato), and glacial erratics (Dan Murray). Dylan created signs for each stop indicating what the volunteer could talk about. A one-page handout prepared by Deb provided information on Native American land use in New England prior to the arrival of the first colonists. A one-page handout prepared by Ann and Laurie discussed what Norton was like when the Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving in Plymouth. LPS provided hot cider after the walk and collected donations to the Cupboard of Kindness food pantry. We also provided membership forms. The model of self-guided woods walks with optional stops was the most successful to date, and we will use it again in the future.
  • We are currently planning a winter woods walk for February and a spring woods walk probably in April, both in Woodward Forest.  By walking the trails in fall, winter and spring participants can observe seasonal changes.
  • At its most recent meeting Outreach discussed limiting its primary focus to Community Outreach, which would continue to plan and implement public events. Separate committees such as Membership should be created, and specialized subcommittees of Outreach should be formed to develop and manage other initiatives such as involvement with the Norton school system and Wheaton College. To repeat from the previous LPS Update, we need more volunteers!  Some of the efforts you might consider working on are the LPS newsletter, website, maintaining regular contact with the LPS membership, involvement with education, participation in local and statewide conservation efforts such as the Mass. Land Trust Conservation Conference, preparation of informational material for woods walks and to be distributed online and in appropriate venues. If you can contribute even a small amount of time to any of these outreach efforts , please contact Dan Murray or Laurie Pleshar who will put you in touch with those individuals currently working on or in charge of these projects. We welcome assistance from the Board of Directors and from the LPS membership at large!
·      Communication:  Linda Kollett and Kathy Zawasky are “chairs” . Please add update if needed.
  •   Newsletter
  • Website
  • Recording – notes of Zoom meetings
·      NHS and LPS joint projects:
  • LPS has slowly  begun to move our archival material into the NHS schoolhouse.
·      Other projects
  • ALNYLAM: We are repeating this highly successful event.  This year up to 40 volunteers from ALNYLAM are scheduled to arrive at Gateway on Wednesday September 28, with the following Wednesday available as a rain date. They Have committed $2500 for our efforts as well. They intend to return in the Fall, and possibly sooner on Earth Day.
  •   Wheaton College interns:
    •   Jessie Kilburn has researched the history of the Copperworks, and has produced reports and story boards that are geared to the general public.  They will be on permanent display at the Foster trailhead, as well as other places.
    •    A new Wheaton Intern will work with Kathy Zawasky in 2023.
  • River trails: We’ve begun a discussion about how to clean up rivers on our property for the purposes of including kayaking to our hiking trails.  Please contact Mike Rainville if your wish to participate. I know that would be of interest to Dave Lennon and Pat Coleman, and I’m sure others.
  • Land Trust Alliance: and Trust Alliance  (LTA) is a “nature conservation organization, based in Washington, D.C. The Alliance represents many land trusts across the United States.  This organization has many resources available to local land trust members, and  LPS has rejoined this organization in order to use them.  We are planning to meet with  a consultant from the LTA to develop a plan that prioritizes short- and long-term activities.
o  Two proposals were submitted to the Norton Cultural Council, and are in review.