The Massachusetts Forest Stewardship Program, under the auspices of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), has selected the Gill Town Forest Committee and Conservation Commission to receive a state fiscal year 2017 Community Forest Stewardship Implementation Grant in the amount of $7,100.00
This matching grant will assist in furthering several of the management recommendations and practices identified in the Gill Town Forest Stewardship Plan. Specifically, the identification and marking of boundaries; development of a recreational trail system and kiosks; control of invasive plant species/habitat restoration; and controlling unwanted access/dumping.
The Gill Town Forest Committee and Conservation Commission must match the grant amount dollar for dollar with other non-state funds or services. We must finance 100% of the cost of the project, which can include: local funds or services, in-kind-labor/contributions, materials, and equipment. The DCR will not reimburse the town for any more than 50% of the eligible expenditures, up to the grant amount.
The award is the fruit of several years' worth of meetings of the Forest Committee as we hammered out priorities and created a budget. Committee member Paul Sievert ultimately synthesized the material and wrote up and submitted the application. In the final months of the application process, the committee persevered under the uncertainty as to whether or not the funds would actually be available. Informed at one point that they might not be, the Forest Stewardship Program Coordinator encouraged us to write a letter to Secretary Matthew Beaton, of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, asking that funding be restored to the Working Forest Initiative in DCR's Capital Budget. This letter was effectively drafted by Phil Gilfeather-Girton.
Notice of the restoration of funds was given in July, and the award to the Gill Forest Committee was received on July 27, 2016. We were among only three communities to receive awards, and the application scored high points in the Stewardship Program's ratings.
The work must be completed by June 30, 2017. The project will be guided and implemented by the Forest Committee, and, we hope, assisted by other town volunteers, as well as students of the Northfield Mount Hermon School, and the Franklin County Technical School.
A brief overview of the evolution of the Town Forest:
- Established and purchased from the Franklin Land Trust, 2009.
- Inventoried for bio-richness, 2013.
- Forest Stewardship Plan developed, 2014.
We are excited to have this opportunity to further improve access to and enjoyment of our 162 acres of beautiful forested land which includes hills and eskers, a magnificent pond and river, and tucked away in hidden corners, remnants of historical interest.
Anyone interested in learning more about opportunities to volunteer and participate in upcoming projects at the Town Forest should contact Amy Gordon (click this link to email Amy) or call or email Ray Purington at the Town Hall (413-863-9347 or email@example.com. We hope you will join us!
Amy Gordon, Co-Chair, Gill Town Forest Committee & Gill Conservation Commission
Chris Polatin, Co-Chair, Gill Town Forest Committee & Gill Conservation Commission
Paul Sievert, Co-Chair, Gill Town Forest Committee & Gill Conservation Commission
Steve Baskowski, Gill Conservation Commission
Donna Bigelow, Gill Town Forest Committee
Patricia Crosby, Gill Town Forest Committee
Dick French, Gill Town Forest Committee
Liz Gardner, Gill Town Forest Committee
Phil Gilfeather-Girton, Gill Conservation Committee
Ken Sprankle, Gill Town Forest Committee
Tim Storrow, Gill Town Forest Committee
Ray Purington, Administrative Assistant, Town of Gill