Living with Coyotes

Coyotes can be a cause of fascination and concern.  The  70th Anniversary Meeting of the Worcester County Conservation District will feature a presentation about coyotes at the Rutland Library.   This October 28 meeting will include a pot luck dinner before the 7 pm discussion of coyotes.

coyote blogMarion Larson of the MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife will talk about our largest wild canid (dog) and answer many of the common questions about these animals.  Learn how to keep coyotes, pets and people at a respectful distance.

The pot luck dinner will be at 6 pm.  Please bring your favorite entrée or salad but avoid foods with nuts.  The Worcester District will supply beverages, paper products and dessert.

Please RSVP by October 21st to Lisa (508) 829-4477 ext. 5 or email:  The Rutland Free Public Library is located at 280 Main Street, Rutland, MA.


Fauna Friendly Yards

Labor Day began winding down a season of garden delights.  Summer flowers have gone but cheerful late bloomers will keep bees busy a while: pink Turtlehead, lavender Obedient Plant,  golden Rudbeckia, many Asters & Anemone, a few Phlox, and Oak Leaf Hydrangea blossoms fading to pale violet.

IMG_0367-Pat Hayes

Pat Hayes photo

It’s been great seeing varied wildlife in the yard this summer. Melodic song birds as well as raucous calls of crows, blue jays and wrens greeting the dawn.  Each day, our yard had scores of birds flitting between flowers, feeders, shrubs and trees: chickadees, titmice, finches, cardinals, grosbeaks, woodpeckers, flycatchers, doves, hummingbirds and more.  At dusk, bats were catching mosquitos and sometimes we enjoyed an owl hooting.

Also darting and swooping among flowers, shrubs and trees were myriad insects, including a dozen kinds of butterflies as well as dragonflies, damselflies, caddisflies, wasps, bees, ladybugs, beetles and crickets.  On the ground are bold chipmunks, stealthy moles, wily squirrels and curious cottontails.  Along with an occasional red fox stalking them.   All part of this amazing ecosystem.

Earlier this year, we certified our backyard habitat with the National Wildlife Federation’s global network of mini-refuges. It required a small fee and a few minutes to answer questions about food, shelter and water to sustain wildlife.  The NWF also offers plenty of tips for the essential elements of a healthy backyard habitat.

Fall is a fine time to enhance wildlife habitat in your yard.  Planting shrubs and trees will offer flowers and berries next year. Planting evergreens and creating brush piles can provide shelter over winter.  For more interesting ideas, visit

Bioswales Benefit Brook

Several bioswales now remove sediment and other pollutants before road runoff goes into Monoosnoc Brook in Leominster.  These runoff remedies are linear bio-retention areas that both filter and convey stormwater.  Similar to rain gardens, bioswales briefly store the “first flush” of runoff (i.e., first inch of rain).  The plants and mulch remove pollutants, and a sandy soil used to fill the swale allows stormwater to soak into the ground for more filtering.  During larger storms, runoff with less pollutants will either bypass or overflow to nearby drainage system, depending on design of the bio-swale.

Bowen Bioswale reducedAs shown by the photo, runoff from a half acre of road enters the catch basin grate.  A six-inch diameter pipe then brings the stormwater into the bio-swale where it fills the two storage cells and infiltrates to the ground.  At the “beehive” riser seen on the far end, runoff goes to an underground leaching chamber where stormwater seeps through sandy filter media into native soils beneath the swale.  The cleansing by plants and infiltration removes 80 – 90% of the pollutants in the first inch of storm runoff.

Annual maintenance includes cleanout of the catch basin inlet as well as replacement of plants and mulch as needed.  This low-cost upkeep enables the swale to filter pollutants for many years.

Examples of Leominster bioswales will be part of the October 19 tour being hosted by the Ecological Landscaping Association (see blog below).  For more details about bio-swales, visit the MWC website or email

Nature at The Clark

Enjoyed the amazing exhibit “Van Gogh and Nature” at The Clark Art Institute.  As the museum’s website explains “For Vincent van Gogh, nature was the defining subject of his art. Over the course of his short but intense working life, Van Gogh studied and depicted nature in all its forms—from the minutiae of insects and birds’ nests to the most sweeping of panoramic landscapes—creating a body of work that revolutionized the representation of the natural world at the end of the nineteenth century.”  This unique Van Gogh exhibit will continue thru September 13 with extended hours for Labor Day Weekend.


Connecticut River from French King Bridge

The Clark’s recent expansion added new facilities to the 140 acre grounds, which include walking trails, green roof systems, and new landscaping with permeable parking areas that feed into a stormwater collection system.  A drive along the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) to Williamstown offers a panorama from the French King Bridge; pastoral scenes along the Deerfield River valley; and views of Mount Greylock, the state highest peak.  It’s always a delightful trip.

Good ways to reduce runoff

20150825_071359 (496x800)On vacation last week, we stayed at lovely lodgings beside a sparkling brook in Williamstown.  It was nice to see this motor inn is using low-cost measures to prevent pollutants from going into the brook.

The upper photo shows the porous parking area (crushed stone), as well as the groundcover and gardens that soak up runoff.

The lower photo shows the wide grass buffer and native vegetation filter between the parking area and the brook.  These simple runoff remedies offer effective ways for businesses and homeowners to help keep adjacent waterways healthy.

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For more information, visit or email

October Stormwater Funding Workshops

The Baystate Roads Program is teaming up with the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance and other partner organizations to offer workshops on Creating a Revenue Stream for Stormwater Management. Each workshop will explain how to develop dedicated funds for stormwater solutions and how to work with your town to make it happen. It will feature guidance from regional planners, consultants and municipal staff who have expertise in stormwater utilities.

Granite MS4 outlet 2 reduced

storm pipe discharge to brook

This full-day workshop will be held in three locations: on October 15 in Marlboro; on October 20 in Hadley; and on October 22 in Taunton. Topics covered will include changes in EPA’s municipal stormwater permit, how to design a stormwater utility, and case studies from communities that successfully funded their program. This workshop is intended for municipal officials, environmental and engineering consultants, planners, state agency staff, and environmental organizations.

For more information and registration details, visit