A Place for Pollinators

A fritillary butterfly visits a coneflower (Echinacae purpurea) in the Harris Center’s new pollinator garden. A complete, illustrated list of plants in the garden is available here. (photo: Meade Cadot)

A dedicated group of volunteers spent this past year turning the Harris Center’s old swimming pool into a new pollinator garden, and it’s now open for visitors. Park in the lower parking area, and there it is.

As pollinators continue to decline, it’s ever more important to provide habitat for the many bees, butterflies, birds, and beetles that help flowers turn into fruits and vegetables. Plant selection for the new garden thus focused on both native flowering plants and non-native plants that are known pollinator magnets, as well as ensuring a constant bloom throughout the growing season. Growers were asked if they used systemic pesticides (neonicotinoids) − an important consideration, as these toxins can sometimes persist for the life of the plant. An illustrated plant list is available here.

Because the garden is so new, it needs time to fill out, and no doubt we’ll be adding a few new flowers as time wears on. In the meantime, we hope you’ll walk along the garden’s edge, sit on the benches, and enjoy the colorful buzzing and fluttering of a garden alive with native pollinators!

An Opportunity to Protect the Silver Lake Watershed

The proposed easement would protect 187 acres, including 1,800 feet of undeveloped shoreline on the northeastern edge of Silver Lake in Harrisville. (photo: Brett Amy Thelen)

The Silver Lake Land Trust and the Seaver Silver Lake Farm Trust are working with the Harris Center to conserve an exquisite 187-acre parcel stretching from Silver Lake east to Nelson Road in Harrisville. The proposed conservation easement includes a quarter-mile of frontage on Nelson Road and 1,800 feet of shoreline on Silver Lake, which − when paired with existing conserved lands in Nelson − would amount to 0.6 mile of protected, connected, undeveloped shoreline on the northeastern edge of the lake. In addition, the easement would add to a block of more than 6,000 acres of contiguous conservation land, protecting wildlife habitat in the towns of Nelson, Roxbury, Harrisville, and Marlborough. The easement would also increase the proportion of conserved lands in the Silver Lake watershed to an amazing 75%, helping to protect water quality in Silver Lake and nearby Childs Bog.

To complete this easement purchase, we must raise $350,000 by September 30. No small task! For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution to support the Silver Lake Eastside Easement, please contact Jeremy Wilson at wilson@harriscenter.org or (603) 525-3394.

In the Field with the 2015 KSC Conservation Interns

The 2015 KSC conservation intern team prepares to conduct a road mortality survey along Route 123, near the Harris Center’s Virginia Baker Natural Area.
(photo: Brett Amy Thelen)

In late June, we wrapped up our third year of the Harris Center-Keene State Colelge conservation internship program, a seven-week summer internship experience for undergraduate students in the Environmental Studies Department at Keene State College (KSC).

Under the guidance of Harris Center staff and KSC faculty, four outstanding undergraduate interns — Will Holden, Lizzy King, Bryan Mindermann, and Meaghan O’Dwyer — assisted with many facets of the Harris Center’s diverse conservation and education work. Together, the team documented nine new vernal pools, surveyed thirteen forest community inventory plots, helped construct a trail on the newly-conserved Hiroshi land, surveyed and pulled hundreds of invasive plants, monitored four conservation easements, helped prepare the Harris Center’s new pollinator garden site for planting, conducted weekly monitoring of our campsites on Spoonwood Pond, and assisted with educational events. They also collected a third year of data for a wildlife road mortality study on a section of Route 123 that bisects Supersanctuary lands in Hancock, Antrim, Stoddard, and Nelson. You can see intern Will Holden’s video snapshot of this innovative summer internship experience here. Read more…